Zelda Rubinstein

Actress, Voice actor, Medical laboratory technologist
The diminutive, squeaky-voiced actress Zelda Rubinstein became a star overnight as the medium Tangina in "Poltergeist" (1982) and its sequels. However, she struggled to find similarly dramatic work in the two decades ... Read more »
Born: 05/28/1933 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

Filmography

Actor (32)

Critic's Choice 2014 (Movie)

(Actor)

Unbeatable Harold 2009 (Movie)

Bunny (Actor)

Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon 2007 (Movie)

Mrs Collingwood (Actor)

Cages 2007 (Movie)

(Actor)

Southland Tales 2007 (Movie)

Dr Katarina Kuntzler (Actor)

Scariest Places on Earth 2000 - 2006 (TV Show)

Narrator

The Scariest Places on Earth 2000 - 2001 (TV Show)

Narrator

Caroline in the City 1992 - 1994, 1996 - 1998 (Tv Show)

Actor

Little Witches 1997 (Movie)

(Actor)

Martin 1992 - 1994, 1996 - 1997 (Tv Show)

Actor

Lover's Knot 1996 (Movie)

Woman in AIDS clinic (Actor)

The Watcher 1994 - 1995 (TV Show)

Actor

Picket Fences 1992 - 1994 (Tv Show)

Actor

Guilty as Charged 1992 (Movie)

Edna (Actor)

The Luck of the Draw: The Gambler Returns 1991 - 1992 (TV Show)

Actor

The New Arrival 1991 - 1992 (TV Show)

Actor

Teen Witch 1989 (Movie)

Serena (Actor)

Anguish 1988 (Movie)

Alice--The Mother (Actor)

Poltergeist III 1988 (Movie)

Tangina Barrons (Actor)

The Dancing Princess 1987 - 1988 (TV Show)

Actor

The Mouse and the Motorcycle 1986 - 1987 (TV Show)

Voice

Poltergeist II: the Other Side 1986 (Movie)

Tangina Barrons (Actor)

The Roquefort Gang 1985 - 1986 (TV Show)

Voice

I Gave at the Office 1984 - 1985 (TV Show)

Actor

Sixteen Candles 1984 (Movie)

Organist (Actor)

The Flintstone Funnies 1981 - 1984 (TV Show)

Voice

Frances 1982 (Movie)

Mental Patient (Actor)

Poltergeist 1982 (Movie)

Tangina (Actor)

Flintstone Family Adventures 1980 - 1981 (TV Show)

Voice

Acting on Impulse (TV Show)

Actor

Stormy Weathers (TV Show)

Actor

Biography

The diminutive, squeaky-voiced actress Zelda Rubinstein became a star overnight as the medium Tangina in "Poltergeist" (1982) and its sequels. However, she struggled to find similarly dramatic work in the two decades that followed; more often than not, she was reduced to playing eccentrics or variants on her most famous character. However, she remained active and, from all accounts, game to tackle any project until 2009, when she was hospitalized for kidney failure. But her performance in "Poltergeist" - so convincing and honest in the face of so much supernatural goings-on - would ensure her lasting remembrance among movie fans.

EDUCATION

University of California

Berkeley, California
Attended graduate program in early 1980s

University of Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Studied medical technology(bacteriology)

Milestones

2007

Had a small role in Richard Kelly's "Southland Tales"

2007

Made a cameo appearance in the horror film, "Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon"

2005

Appeared in the film "Cages" as a manipulative and protective middle-aged British woman

2001

Voiced a Psychiatrist in the Cartoon Network movie, "The Flintstones: On the Rocks"

2000

Narrated the horror series, "Scariest Places on Earth" for ABC Family

1992

Had a recurring role as police dispatcher Ginny Weedon on the CBS series, "Picket Fences"

1989

Had a supporting role in the film, "Teen Witch"

1988

Once again portrayed Tangine Barrons in "Poltergeist III"

1987

Formed her own production company, ZR Productions

1986

Reprised the role of Tangina Barrons in "Poltergeist II: The Other Side"

1984

Had a small but memorable role in the John Hughes' comedy "Sixteen Candles"

1982

Breakthrough role as eccentric medium Tangina Barrons in Steven Spielberg's "Poltergeist"

1981

Made feature film debut in "Under the Rainbow"

1980

First TV credit, voiced a character on "Flintstone Family Adventures" (CBS)

1980

Returned to school to study acting

Worked in blood banks as a medical laboratory technologist in late 1960s and early 70s

Bonus Trivia

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In a 1992 interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, Rubinstein said she "had a rough childhood, [but] I became very verbally facile. . . . I learned to meet everyone head-on."

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In the early 1980s she formed the nonprofit Michael Dunn Memorial Repertory Theater Company in Los Angeles. It was named after the late actor, a little person who received a supporting actor Oscar nomination for his role in the 1965 film "Ship of Fools."

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Rubinstein stood just 4 feet 3 inches (130 cm) due to a deficiency of the anterior pituitary gland, which produces growth hormone.

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Rubinstein was one of the very first Hollywood celebrities to speak out on HIV and AIDS. She portrayed the mother in the campaign L.A. CARES (Los Angeles Cooperative AIDS Risk-Reduction Education Service), which was launched in early 1985 at what is now known as the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center.

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