It's way too early in 2010 to be writing obituaries for cool horror people--particularly after the way 2009's tail end hit us with three big losses in a row--but I'm back with some sad news.

Zelda Rubinstein, best known to genre fans as the diminutive psychic Tangina in Tobe Hooper's Poltergeist and its two subsequent sequels, passed away yesterday in Los Angeles after a lengthy bout with various health issues. She was 76 years old.

Instantly recognizable thanks to her tiny stature (she was only 4'3" tall) and distinctive voice, Rubinstein became a cult icon after her appearance in Hooper's 1982 film. Unlike other cult celebrities, Rubinstein used her fame to move beyond horror, appearing on numerous television shows, including an extended run on Picket Fences, and doing voicework for children's cartoons.

Zelda returned to the genre later in her career, appearing in fan-favorite film Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon and serving as the narrator for numerous episodes of The Scariest Places on Earth.

We here at Horror Squad would like to pass along our condolences to Zelda's friends and family. She will be missed.