California

The first victim of the “Poltergeist Curse”

November 4, 1982
Los Angeles, California
Poltergeist actress Dominique Dunne dies 5 days after her ex-boyfriend strangles her

Dunne had recently ended her relationship with John Sweeney. He visited her at her home on October 30 with the hopes of reconciling. Following an argument, Sweeney strangled Dunne and, although paramedics arrived almost immediately after the attack, they were unable to revive her. She lingered in a coma for 5 days before she passed away. Sweeney was controversially convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 6 years in prison.

Dunne was one of 4 actors in Poltergeist to have died between 1982 and 1988, leading to the fabled Poltergeist curse. Along with Dunne, Heather O’Rourke died at 12 years old of septic shock, Julian Beck died after battling stomach cancer for 18 months, and Will Sampson died following an operation he underwent in a weakened condition.

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