Standing 4'3", and possessed of a nails-on-the-blackboard speaking voice, actress Zelda Rubinstein specialized in eccentric characterizations. She was appropriately cast as one of the Little People in her first film, Under the Rainbow (1981). Her best-remembered screen role was Tangina, the disastrously self-assured exorcist in the first two Poltergeist films. Zelda's declaration that "This house is clean" has to be the most famous speaking-too-soon miscalculations in movie history. She was later seen in oddball minor roles as domineering mamas, witches, snoops and gamblers. TV fans know Zelda Rubinstein best as Ginny Weedon on the weekly cult favorite Picket Fences (1992-95). In January of 2010, after a long run-in with health issues, Rubinstein passed away at a respiratory hospital in Los Angeles.
Biography by Hal Erickson
- At 4-foot-3, was the only little person in her family.
- After college, became a medical-lab technician in a blood bank.
- After nearly 20 years in the medical field, decided to become an actor; made her film debut in Under the Rainbow (1981) portraying a Munchkin.
- First major part was in the role of Tangina Barrons in Poltergeist (1982), later reprising the role in the two sequels.
- Founded the Michael Dunn Memorial Repertory Theater Company, a nonprofit group whose actors were all little people.
- Was a vocal public advocate for AIDS education and the rights of little people.