ABOUT THE ACTORS
JOBETH WILLIAMS and CRAIG T. NELSON both share 1979 as the year of their brilliant motion picture debuts in two of that year's most important films. Miss Williams had an awkward meeting with young Justin Henry when she appeared as Dustin Hoffman's girlfriend in the Academy Award winning film "Kramer Vs. Kramer," while Mr. Nelson squared-off against Al Pacino when he played a determined prosecuting attorney in "...And Justice For All." In 1980 they shared the screen in the comedy hit, "Stir Crazy," with Williams seen as the sassy social worker, who falls in love with Gene Wilder and Nelson essaying Deputy Ward Wilson, the prison convincer. Now, they not only share the screen but also top billing starring as Diane and Steve Freeling in MGM's "Poltergeist."
Texas-born JOBETH WILLIAMS honed her acting skills at such prestigious regional repertory companies as the Trinity Theatre, in Rhode Island, The Walnut Street Theatre, in Philadelphia, The Charles Theatre in Boston, and at the Arena Theatre in Washington, D.C., after graduating from Brown University. She then spent the next two-and-a-half years performing in the New York-based daytime serials, "Somerset" and "The Guiding Light."
Other television credits include guest-starring roles in the two-hour drama, "Fun and Games," WNET's American series production of "Feasting With Panthers," and a regular berth on "Jabberwocky" for National Children's Television.
Most notable of her many stage appearances are the American premiere of D.H. Lawrence's "The Daughter-in-Laws" and her New York stage debut in the off-Broadway production of Michael Weller's "Moonchildren." Her most recent New York stage appearance was in "A Coupla White Chicks Sittin' Around Talkin'" with Louise Lasser. Williams also co-starred with Linda Lavin and Sam Waterston in the San Diego production of Chekhov's "Uncle Vanya." Her most recent feature film credit prior to "Poltergeist" was in "The Dogs of War" opposite Christopher Walken.
CRAIG T. NELSON began his show business career as an award-winning writer/performer on the popular "Lohman and Barkley Show" in Los Angeles. For his efforts, he and his writing partners Barry ("...And Justice For All") Levinson and Rudy ("Silent Movie," "Caveman") DeLuca, won local Emmy Awards in 1969 and 1970. He continued to write for the next three years for such programs as "The Tim Conway Show," an Alan King TV Special and made guest appearances on most of the major TV Talk Shows as well as "The Mary Tyler Moore Show." In 1973, Nelson and his family moved to a retreat near Mt. Shasta, in Northern California. After four and a half years in the mountains, he produced a series of 52 half-hour films documenting the reasons why America's artists move to a rural lifestyle, which were syndicated under the title "American Still." In 1978, he returned to Los Angeles and acting, acquiring a reputation for playing "heavies" on such television series as "Wonder Woman," "Charlie's Angels," "How The West Was Won" and the television movie "Diary of a Teenage Hitchhiker."
In addition to "...And Justice For All," Nelson's credits include "Where the Buffalo Roam," with Peter Boyle and Bill Murray, "The Formula," with Marlon Brando and George C. Scott, "Private Benjamin," co-starring Goldie Hawn, and his starring role in the new MGM-TV series "Chicago Story" on the NBC Network.
BEATRICE STRAIGHT, winner of the Academy Award as Best Supporting Actress for her performance as the late William Holden's wife in MGM's "Network," stars in "Poltergeist" as an expert parapsychologist. In addition to her numerous Broadway, Off-Broadway and stock stage appearances, Straight has vigorously supported theatre as a producer. As a founder of Theatre, Inc., she was instrumental in bringing the famed English Theatre company, The Old Vic, to the U.S. for the first time. She is also well known to television audiences from her role as Mrs. Hacker in the critically acclaimed series "Beacon Hill," and is currently starring in the new television series "Kings Crossing" on ABC. Prior to "Poltergeist," Ms. Straight's most recent motion picture appearance was in MGM's "The Formula."
RICHARD LAWSON plays Ryan, a scientist, in "Poltergeist." Lawson first attracted attention when he starred in a San Francisco Bay Area production of "Golden Boy." The former law student subsequently moved to Los Angeles where he opened in the Westwood Playhouse production of "Streamers," and won the Los Angeles Drama Critic's Award. He has made guest appearances on many episodic television programs, appeared in the television movies "Buffalo Soldiers" and the critically acclaimed "Jericho Mile" co-starring as Peter Strauss' buddy.
MARTY CASELLA, a graduate of the California Institute of the Arts with a degree in Drama, makes his motion picture debut in "Poltergeist." He began his career as a production assistant on Steven Spielberg's "1941" and remained as Spielberg's assistant for "Raiders of the Lost Ark" all the while harboring the training and desire to act and write. He's done both. While "Poltergeist" was being filmed, Casella was appearing in the Bank Playhouse production of "The Lion In Winter" in Pasadena, and will have a play that he has penned performed during the summer at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts.
ZELDA RUBINSTEIN appears as Tangina in "Poltergeist." She is just a thesis away from her Masters Degree in Drama, but has seriously concentrated her efforts on acting during the past three years. Her voice is familiar to young television viewers from her weekly incarnations on "The Flintstone Comedy Show" as Atrocia Frankenstone. She was most recently seen in the feature film "Under the Rainbow."
DOMINIQUE DUNNE, OLIVER ROBINS and HEATHER O'ROURKE co-star as the Freeling children in "Poltergeist."
Dunne is a veteran of regional theatre and episodic television with roles on most of the major series to her credit.
Oliver Robins was selected after Spielberg, Hooper and producer Frank Marshall held an open casting call for the role of Robbie. This is his first film following two commercials.
Heather O'Rourke, the blond-haired, blue-eyed darling of the Freeling family, was discovered by Spielberg in the MGM commissary when she joined her mom and older sister, who appeared as one of the juvenile dancers in MGM's lavish "Pennies From Heaven," for lunch. When Mr. Spielberg approached their table, Mrs. O'Rourke, not recognizing the filmmaker, thought that she was about to be asked to leave because of Heather's age but to everyone's surprise, Spielberg invited them to his office after lunch, arranged for a screen test and three days later had found his young star.
"Poltergeist" marks Heather's feature film debut, but the San Diego resident is no stranger to cameras. She has appeared in numerous commercials including one of McDonald's longest running spots and is featured in Mattel toys campaign for "My First Barbie."
Other prominent members of the "Poltergeist" cast include veteran character actors JAMES KAREN, DIRK BLOCKER, MICHAEL MCMANUS.
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