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Rest In Peace Zelda Rubinstein

Hey, guys. Quint here with some bad news. Legendary character actress Zelda Rubinstein passed away. You’ll know her from her work in movies like TEEN WITCH, ANGUISH, SIXTEEN CANDLES and, most likely, from her tour de force in POLTERGEIST.

This hits me pretty close to home. Not only did I grow up with Zelda’s movies, but over the last three years I’ve gotten to know her and her partner, David, personally. It all started when I interviewed her for Poltergeist’s DVD back in 2007. It was a phoner and instantly her voice sent me back to my childhood. I found her to be very sweet and very frank. Read the interview, with audio clips to see her talk about Tobe Hooper’s issues and just how much input Spielberg had on the movie. She was sweet and nice and all that, but what really caught me off guard was her flirtatious nature. Count me doubly shocked when she called me out of the blue a week later in the first of what would be a nearly weekly occurrence. We’d talk about everything, her life, her pilot boyfriend (who is very cool), her sexual history (no joke), her political opinions and just general bullshitting. After hours of phone calls I ended up visiting her at her home in Silverlake and I found her to be exactly the person I expected from the phone calls. Sweet, caring, opinionated, frank and occasionally vulgar… that’s Zelda in a nutshell. Three weeks ago people were already running their obituary, so I called and talked to David who said it was bad, but not as bad as they were saying. I left word with him to give her my best, but I don’t know if she ever recovered enough to hear it. The last time I talked with her I was planning this trip I’m on now, which begins at Sundance, then continues on to LA and we were planning on seeing each other on that trip. She was still full of verve and vigor, saying she was recovering from some surgeries and would be back to 100% soon. Zelda was fond of saying she was the last of her kind, that they had been able to cure her particular form of dwarfism and there would never be another like her. She’s right. There won’t be another Zelda Rubinstein and I feel blessed to have had the last few years to get to know her as a complicated, hilarious and good-natured person. I’ll miss you, Little Z.

-Quint Follow Me On Twitter

Readers Talkback
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  • Jan. 27, 2010, 7:24 p.m. CST

    Hope she stays away from the light...

    by moondoggy2u

  • Jan. 27, 2010, 7:27 p.m. CST

    "All are welcome...All are welcome..."

    by dingleberryjerry

    RIP sweet lady.

  • Jan. 27, 2010, 7:32 p.m. CST

    Go into the light!

    by ShabbyBlue

  • Jan. 27, 2010, 7:36 p.m. CST


    by Nobody26

  • Jan. 27, 2010, 7:36 p.m. CST

    She's with CarolAnne now...

    by vettebro


  • Jan. 27, 2010, 7:38 p.m. CST

    R.I.P. ZELDA

    by TheUmpireStrokesBach

    "There is no death. It is only a transition to a different sphere of consciousness." Man, I grew up listening to her strange but utterly unique voice, and those choice quotes will reverberate in my head for the rest of my life. Thank you Zelda!</p> <p>"I'm going in after her."

  • Jan. 27, 2010, 7:38 p.m. CST

    They should have made a series back then based on her character

    by Angry Mike

    Sort of like an X Files. Now that would have been interesting. But I guess being the early 80's, it was a pipe dream. Now if it was made today....

  • Jan. 27, 2010, 7:40 p.m. CST

    R.I.P. Zelda


  • Jan. 27, 2010, 7:43 p.m. CST

    She sounds like a cool lady, RIP Zelda.

    by ebonic_plague

    That was actually one of the sweetest tributes to an actress I've ever read on AICN, good job Quint... now I'm off to read that interview. <p> And it's off topic, but, Quint, has anyone ever told you that you look a lot more like Hooper than Quint? That last pic made me see it.

  • Jan. 27, 2010, 7:47 p.m. CST

    I wasn't aware she is still alive.

    by ricarleite2

    And I wasn't aware she was named after a nintendo game. Oh well, more experience points and gold to ABE VIGODA!

  • Jan. 27, 2010, 7:49 p.m. CST

    From Link With Love

    by Pulagatha

    Zelda Rubenstein - Super Awesome

  • Jan. 27, 2010, 7:50 p.m. CST

    Touching Eulogy

    by A-COD

    Nice piece Quint. Thanks for linking to the interview, I somehow missed it when you first published it. Great stuff about Tobe H.

  • Jan. 27, 2010, 7:52 p.m. CST

    Pernell Roberts has passed away also.

    by BurnedNotice_Dude

    RIP to both.

  • Jan. 27, 2010, 7:55 p.m. CST

    The Legend of Zelda

    by Reilly


  • Jan. 27, 2010, 7:57 p.m. CST

    Jean Simmons passed away too a few days back...

    by Nuking the Fridge

    And she gets no thread as far as a I can tell. Many people don't know who Jean Simmons is, and believe I am trying to say Gene Simmons(like from KISS). <p>Jean Simmons was enchantingly beautiful in the original Stanley Kubrik film Spartacus. She was breathtaking in that film, totally holds the film together at an emotional level. People should know her too. Zelda was great though, and RIP to all the great actors and actresses that have been passing away lately.

  • Jan. 27, 2010, 8 p.m. CST

    Ah man..,,RIP Zelda.

    by Traumnovelle

    She seemed cool as hell. Definitely a staple of my childhood. Rest In Paradise.

  • Jan. 27, 2010, 8:01 p.m. CST

    May she know the Peace

    by RoarsLoudly

    ...............of everlasting life!

  • Jan. 27, 2010, 8:01 p.m. CST

    R.I.P. Lady

    by SoylentMean

    Sorry to hear she was struggling, even sorrier to hear she's passed. Death is so damn stupid.

  • Jan. 27, 2010, 8:12 p.m. CST

    R.I.P. Zelda

    by Skyway Moaters

    Man are you guys inconsistent on these obits. Jean Simmons? Pernell Roberts? I guess you can't mark all of them, but come on...

  • Jan. 27, 2010, 8:13 p.m. CST

    Some people believe

    by blackwood

    that when you die there is a wonderful light. As bright as the sun but it doesn't hurt to look into it. All the answers to all the questions you want to know are inside that light. And when you walk to it... you become a part of it forever.<p>Rest In Peace.<p>Really touching eulogy Quint. I remember that interview you did. You guys had a wonderful chemistry. Glad that it continued.

  • Jan. 27, 2010, 8:18 p.m. CST


    by brabon300

    rip to a great actress

  • Jan. 27, 2010, 8:18 p.m. CST

    Oh my God!! The Poltergeist curse is real!

    by Ronald Raygun

    First Dominique Dunne. Then the old guy who played Kane. Then Heather O'Rourke. Now, twenty years later Zelda Rubinstein! I predict Steven Speilberg, Craig T. Nelson and JoBeth Williams will also die in the next twenty to thirty years! But not Tobe Hooper, cause everyone knows Speilberg told Tobe to go home after the first day and directed it himself.

  • Jan. 27, 2010, 8:22 p.m. CST

    Sounds like a lovely lady.

    by A G


  • Jan. 27, 2010, 8:26 p.m. CST

    R.I.P. Ms. Zelda Rubenstein...

    by SouthSide_2010

    She will definitely be missed.

  • Jan. 27, 2010, 8:28 p.m. CST

    Rest In Peace you weird, awesome lady

    by DOGSOUP

  • Jan. 27, 2010, 8:35 p.m. CST

    God bless your soul, Zelda

    by Meadowe

    I remember her most from a Tales from the Crypt episode where I thinq a radio psych was trying to help her wild (I forgot if she was wild, crazy, etc, its been a while) *daughter* that the radio psych thought was realy Zelda in disguise. I remember cuz a caller called in about her daughter's masturbation and it was the first time I heard that word hahah. Anyway, God bles ya Zelda!

  • Jan. 27, 2010, 8:38 p.m. CST

    what freaqs me bout poltergeist fliqs

    by Meadowe

    Is I thinq on e! True hollywood story they said it was cheaper to use real human skeletons (at least on 1 fliq, don't know bout the whole series) and the cast didn't know until later on they were handling real human remains.

  • Jan. 27, 2010, 8:43 p.m. CST

    Damn that is sad... R.I.P

    by samuraiyao

  • Jan. 27, 2010, 8:47 p.m. CST

    shit, quint. I'm really sorry mate...

    by spitflames

  • Jan. 27, 2010, 8:49 p.m. CST

    R. I. P.

    by RosemarysBabyDaddy

    Quint, just read your "Poltergeist" interview with Ms. Rubenstein. Great stuff. Did the Alamo "Anguish" screening ever happen? I've never seen that film, but I'm going to seek it out now. RIP Zelda

  • Jan. 27, 2010, 9:01 p.m. CST

    Very thoughtfully written

    by solanine


  • Jan. 27, 2010, 9:02 p.m. CST

    Nice job Quint

    by seanokeefe

    I grew up with her iconic voice as well. I was saddened to see the news but I did not have a personal relationship like you did. That was a very moving and well done tribute. Thank you.

  • Jan. 27, 2010, 9:02 p.m. CST

    POLTERGEIST - She made that movie!

    by Orionsangels

    The movie still creeps me out to this day and she was part of it. A wonderful actress who left us some great work. RIP.

  • Jan. 27, 2010, 9:03 p.m. CST

    Pernell Roberts was the last surviving cast member of Bonanza.

    by Orionsangels

  • Jan. 27, 2010, 9:04 p.m. CST


    by frank cotton

  • Jan. 27, 2010, 9:09 p.m. CST

    "This House . . . Is Clean."


    God bless you, Zelda.

  • Jan. 27, 2010, 9:17 p.m. CST


    by britney spears rusted clit ring


  • Jan. 27, 2010, 9:33 p.m. CST


    by Pogue__Mahone

    Lovely, Quint. I'm sorry for your's - and all her fan's - loss.

  • Jan. 27, 2010, 9:34 p.m. CST

    Quint, I'm sorry to hear about your friend

    by YackBacker

    She had an awesome screen presence and she seemed to be even more dynamic in real life. RIP Zelda.

  • Jan. 27, 2010, 9:43 p.m. CST

    That Was a Very Fitting Tribute

    by Dave I

    My deepest condolences. It is a sad loss, but I think she would have found your words very fitting and respectful.<p><p>-Cheers

  • Jan. 27, 2010, 9:43 p.m. CST

    Where's the Roy e Disney obit?

    by Six Demon Bag

    Sorry couldn't resist

  • Jan. 27, 2010, 9:44 p.m. CST


    by Geekgasm

    Poltergeist scared me shitless when I was a little kid. Ms. Rubinstein was wonderful in it and made a lasting impression. She will be missed.

  • Jan. 27, 2010, 9:47 p.m. CST

    pura vida

    by yabory

    to old friends.

  • Jan. 27, 2010, 9:59 p.m. CST

    My dad used to joke with me and say she played E.T.

    by KentButabi

    RIP, Zelda.

  • Jan. 27, 2010, 10:02 p.m. CST

    Nice obit. (Still a little bummed that Jean Simmons

    by V'Shael

    didn't get one)

  • Jan. 27, 2010, 10:08 p.m. CST

    Well done, Quint.

    by Skraggo

    Very nice write-up, Quint. Touching and heartfelt. I'm sorry for the loss of your friend. She was definitely a genre icon and had the most recognizable voice in the medium. From your article, it sounds like she was a real blast to know in person. Consider yourself lucky, brother.

  • Jan. 27, 2010, 10:25 p.m. CST

    R.I.P. Zelda

    by bat725

  • Jan. 27, 2010, 10:27 p.m. CST

    If even One person brings up Abe Vigoda, I'll Go INSANE!

    by Watch_The_Birdie

    Everytime an Obituary shows up on this website, some fucking retard always says that Abe Vigoda is laughing because he's still alive. Will someone put a bullet in the old geyser's head and get it over with?

  • Jan. 27, 2010, 10:28 p.m. CST

    Oh, R.I.P. Zelda

    by Watch_The_Birdie

    Our thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family.

  • Jan. 27, 2010, 10:34 p.m. CST

    The Triforce of Courage

    by jimbojones123

    Will pull me through.

  • Jan. 27, 2010, 10:37 p.m. CST

    Legendary subtlity

    by jimbojones123

  • Jan. 27, 2010, 10:50 p.m. CST

    She always kept a clean house

    by Yotz Von Frelnik

    That photo is just too sweet. What a gal.

  • Jan. 27, 2010, 10:55 p.m. CST

    "Top that!"

    by Azlam Orlandu

    Teen Witch was my favorite of her works.

  • Jan. 27, 2010, 11:30 p.m. CST

    Are the job requirements for AICN....

    by googamooga

    Obesity and bad facial hair? What? I'm just saying...

  • Jan. 27, 2010, 11:42 p.m. CST

    Lovely tribute, Quint.

    by AnnoyYou

    And RIP Ms. Rubinstein. You were truly singular.

  • Jan. 27, 2010, 11:51 p.m. CST

    Question for film nerds

    by LiquidLunch

    Who directed Poltergeist? Spielberg or Hooper?

  • Jan. 27, 2010, 11:59 p.m. CST

    She seems like a beautiful soul

    by krushjudgement


  • Jan. 28, 2010, 12:03 a.m. CST

    Poltergeist is about 1 million times better than

    by LiquidLunch

    Paranormal Activity and Zelda Rubinstein is about 1 million times better than Oren Peli. Too bad he will never appreciate her.

  • Jan. 28, 2010, 12:12 a.m. CST

    Zelda Whobinstein?

    by Pig_Ignorant

    Someone had to say it

  • Jan. 28, 2010, 12:13 a.m. CST

    quint, you're fug-ly

    by Cap'n Jack

  • Jan. 28, 2010, 12:13 a.m. CST

    Jay Leno as Zelda Rubinstein

    by PTSDPete

  • Jan. 28, 2010, 12:19 a.m. CST

    "cure her particular form of dwarfism"

    by Meadowe

    Can anyone expand on this? What form she had, the treatments people undergo, the cost, etc? Just curious.

  • Jan. 28, 2010, 12:30 a.m. CST

    Quint looks like Guillermo Del Toro

    by LiquidLunch

    and Zelda looks like a mini Harry Knowles minus the red hair and beard. RIP sweetie!!

  • Jan. 28, 2010, 12:41 a.m. CST


    by disfigurehead

  • Jan. 28, 2010, 12:46 a.m. CST

    She's with Ed McMahon now...

    by ReportAbuse

    RIPpin' ...

  • Jan. 28, 2010, 12:47 a.m. CST

    Zelda ruled in cult classic TEEN WITCH

    by BadWaldosRevenge

    That's my little sister's favorite movie. Even girls born after 1988 are obsessed with the movie which came out and bombed at the b.o. in '89. A re-make without LEGENDARY ZELDA? No way.

  • Jan. 28, 2010, 12:52 a.m. CST


    by BadWaldosRevenge

    Judging the unmistakable style of Spielberg's, it was him who directed most, if not entire movie. Check trivia for the movie at IMDB. Tobe Hooper was probably an incompetent dope. Exhibit A & B: Life Force and Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. TX Chainsaw Massacre 1 was frighteningly great, but Tobe's fame is extinguished with consequently shitty movies.

  • Jan. 28, 2010, 1:10 a.m. CST

    So sad...

    by kershner

    Rest in peace Zelda, you'll be missed.

  • Jan. 28, 2010, 1:11 a.m. CST

    awww shit. R.I.P.

    by NomoredirtyjokespleaseweareYanks

    classy lady.

  • Jan. 28, 2010, 1:46 a.m. CST

    loved the bit

    by El Borak

    maybe in 2 where the mom looks out the peep-hole and can't see her.

  • Jan. 28, 2010, 1:46 a.m. CST

    Remember her on Picket Fences?

    by solvseus

    She was good on that, until they decided to kill her character off in a sucky way for stupid reasons. She will be missed.

  • Jan. 28, 2010, 1:46 a.m. CST

    loved the bit

    by El Borak

    maybe in 2 where the mom looks out the peep-hole and can't see her.

  • Jan. 28, 2010, 1:49 a.m. CST


    by El Borak


  • Jan. 28, 2010, 1:50 a.m. CST

    Thank you Quint

    by Darth Thoth

    For such a beautiful tribute. My heart goes out to you my brother. RIP and God bless Zelda Rubinstein. Thank you Zelda for all the great memories. You are truly a legend!

  • Jan. 28, 2010, 2:19 a.m. CST

    RE: Pernell Roberts was the last surviving cast member of Bonanz

    by Droogie Alex

    Not true. He was the last of the Cartrights. David Canary (who replaced hims a non-family member) is still on ALL MY CHILDREN every day.

  • Jan. 28, 2010, 3:03 a.m. CST

    Jean Simmons is gone too?

    by Stalkeye

    Bummer! Rest in peace "Edith'.

  • Jan. 28, 2010, 3:08 a.m. CST

    I haven't wept so hard since Bob Hope Died

    by NippleEffect

    I'd say something snarky<br> But I'm afraid she'd haunt me<p> But my heart does go out to her family and friends<br> And I thank her for her work in film<p> Rest Well

  • Jan. 28, 2010, 3:32 a.m. CST

    underrated actress due to her body

    by cifra

    in Poltergeist, she was robbed of an Oscar nom at least. As said above, an amazing and scene-stealing tour de force. Rest in Peace, she's living forever in the silver screen.

  • Jan. 28, 2010, 5:27 a.m. CST

    "her particular form of dwarfism"

    by buggerbugger

    That'd be the tiny kind, right?

  • Jan. 28, 2010, 6:37 a.m. CST

    "This House Has Been Cleansed"

    by KillaKane

    RIP Zelda

  • Jan. 28, 2010, 6:45 a.m. CST

    RIP Zelda

    by pdennett316

    She sounded like a nice lady, my condolences to her family and friends - including Quint. Nice photo at the end.

  • Jan. 28, 2010, 8:03 a.m. CST

    While we're on the subject, R.I.P Jean Simmons

    by Miami Mofo

    Frankly, I was quite annoyed at AICn for letting the passing of this talented and beautiful actress go unmentioned. I read about her passing in Monday's The Miami Herald. That evening I watched my DVD of 'Spartacus.' Harry, Quint,, you really dropped the ball on this one! In closing, let me add my condolences re Zelda Rubinstein and Pernell Roberts.

  • Jan. 28, 2010, 8:40 a.m. CST

    Iconic Performance

    by Broseph

    if ever there was one that will forever resonate in my mind it was her in poltergeist.she brought something truely special to that role.may she rest in peace

  • Jan. 28, 2010, 8:54 a.m. CST

    No Obit for Ed McMahon?


    Sorry, love me some Zelda Rubenstein. It's a shame she wasn't the anchor for all the other poltergeist movies.

  • Jan. 28, 2010, 9:12 a.m. CST

    The scene where she one ups Craig T Nelson

    by skimn

    at the top of the steps always gets me. Way to go Zelda.

  • Jan. 28, 2010, 9:26 a.m. CST

    Yeah, Picket Fences

    by Grammaton Cleric Binks

    They should have kept her on for the whole run. I think she was on for the first season, and that was all.

  • Jan. 28, 2010, 9:29 a.m. CST

    They cured her form of dwarfism Quint?

    by Grammaton Cleric Binks

    According to CSI (yeah, it's tv so I'll take it with a grain of salt) there were basically two kinds. One you look like an average person like Meredith the actress. The other distorts facial features more so. Was there a third kind, and she had it?

  • Jan. 28, 2010, 9:33 a.m. CST

    Mrs. Spartacus, Ed McMahon, and John Quade

    by Grammaton Cleric Binks

    got screwed. At least we got one for Zelda.

  • Jan. 28, 2010, 10:20 a.m. CST

    Very sweet write-up, Quint

    by Jakester

    Sorry she's gone.

  • Jan. 28, 2010, 10:58 a.m. CST


    by torpedoboy

    Rest in Peace, Zelda.

  • Jan. 28, 2010, 11:55 a.m. CST


    by PleaseWipeMyAss

    rest in peace you old floozy

  • Jan. 28, 2010, 12:27 p.m. CST


    by uberman

    Great actress and sounds like a she was a fun human, and now a fun spirit. BTW: Is that Quint or a thinner Quilerrmo Torro (horrible spelling, but you know who I mean).

  • Jan. 28, 2010, 12:28 p.m. CST

    so now which foundation will be getting my PBS donations?


    ohhhh, silly me. i thought this ad was about Helena Rubinstein. carry on.

  • Jan. 28, 2010, 12:37 p.m. CST

    Give the Ed McMahon thing a rest, will you?

    by Watch_The_Birdie

  • Jan. 28, 2010, 1:07 p.m. CST


    by The Dum Guy

    <br><br>Her and then JD Salinger...<br><br>

  • Jan. 28, 2010, 1:16 p.m. CST

    Never. Ed got the shaft from Harry

    by Grammaton Cleric Binks

    now, cue thelordofhell.

  • Jan. 28, 2010, 1:37 p.m. CST

    I thought she had already passed...

    by ToMonicker

    into the light. R.I.P.

  • Jan. 28, 2010, 1:48 p.m. CST

    DVD interview

    by kurtisaurus

    Quint, that was a great farewell to a great lady, thanks for sharing your history with her. What ever happened on that recent DVD/Bluray release? They didn't throw anything on the disc except some lame documentaries about ghost hunters. I was looking forward to your interview on it and any historical things they would be throwing on there. What happened?

  • Jan. 28, 2010, 2:36 p.m. CST

    Salinger is dead? The phonies in Hollywood have won!

    by LiquidLunch

  • Jan. 28, 2010, 2:37 p.m. CST

    Here's hoping that Quint's TV screen was

    by dihay

    filled with snow as he wrote this. RIP Ms. Rubinstein.

  • Jan. 28, 2010, 2:37 p.m. CST

    Salinger had a copy of "The Catcher in the Rye" on him when he d

    by BackRiverCatfish

    Maybe he assassinated himself?

  • Jan. 28, 2010, 3:56 p.m. CST

    Very nice tribute, Quint.

    by DarthCorleone

    Thank you.

  • Jan. 28, 2010, 4:33 p.m. CST

    Good work, Quint

    by palimpsest

    Nicely done.

  • Jan. 28, 2010, 4:52 p.m. CST

    Sixteen Candles wedding planner

    by BanditDarville

    God bless her, she was trying to keep it together when Molly Ringwold's sister is all whacked out on painkillers. "Should be a hell of a honeymoon, eh Padre?"

  • Jan. 28, 2010, 5:06 p.m. CST

    Rest In Peace...

    by SeXX ED

    ... thanks for the memories, Zelda.

  • Jan. 28, 2010, 7:23 p.m. CST

    Rest in peace

    by pilgrim64

    Loved her in Poltergiest and she was perfect in Scariest Places

  • Jan. 28, 2010, 11:46 p.m. CST

    Pig_Ignorant & Capt Jack...

    by Rowsdower.ZabRowsdower

    The two of you butt-nuggets make a strong case against freedom of speech. The simple fact I'm responding to your comments probably gives you knob-gobbling, live-with-your-moms, old-milk-smelling troglydites a pathetic excuse for what you whimsically refer to as a hard-on. Leave it to one or two true shit-for-brains to piss all over the thread dedicated to the rememberance of a sweet old lady. They say if you don't want to see it, then don't look... well, if you don't need to say it then keep your stupid fucking mouths shut. Am I mistaken, or isn't this supposed to be the site for true film fans, not the swingset on your playground where you look over your sholder before telling jokes in hopes the bigger kids don't hear you making fun of them. "People" like the two of you are pathetic. Quit hogging up bandwidth and go hand-job each other to an Uwe Boll movie.

  • Jan. 29, 2010, 3:53 p.m. CST


    by REVENGE_of_FETT

    Oh come on, it's the first thing you thought of too!</p><p>At least I'm pretending to be all broken up like it makes 2 shits worth of difference to me that she's dead.</p><p>Just sayin'.

  • Jan. 29, 2010, 4:04 p.m. CST

    Saw her years ago

    by HootDad

    My ex-wifes's father was an actor (did a lot of TV and some movies) and he was in some play showcase at a tiny theater in LA. There were for people in the audience - me, my (then) wife, and Ms. Rubinstein accompanied by a very tall, dark man. It was very cool She was a terrific actress.