Rubinstein was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and attended the University of California and the University of Pittsburgh. She stood just 4 feet 3 inches (130 cm) due to a deficiency of the anterior pituitary gland, which produces growth hormone. Commenting in 2002 on the challenges of being a very short statured person, Rubinstein said, "Little People are societally handicapped. They have about two minutes to present themselves as equals—and if they don’t take advantage of that chance, then people fall back on the common assumption that 'less' is less."Acting career
Rubinstein entered the film industry comparatively late, upon returning to the United States after living in London for several years. Poltergeist was her first major film role. She remained active in film from thereon, frequently portraying various psychic characters. She also narrated the horror television series, Scariest Places on Earth, which aired in the U.S. on ABC Family and in Canada on YTV.
Rubinstein's other minor/major film roles included Sixteen Candles, Cages, Teen Witch, The Wildcard, Southland Tales and National Lampoon's Last Resort. She also contributed voice-over work for TV including Hey Arnold!, and The Flintstones. She made numerous guest appearances on network TV shows, including Caroline in the City, Martin, Mr. Belvedere, and had a starring role as Ginny Weedon in the TV series Picket Fences. Her character there was killed off in typical off-beat fashion, by falling into a freezer. She also appeared in an episode of Tales From The Crypt in which she played the mother of a girl who has been dead for 40 years.
Since 1999, she did voiceovers in television starting with the groundbreaking reality Fox Family TV Show, "Scariest Places On Earth," commercials promoting movies such as Lady in the Water and products including Skittles candy. Her most recent film role came in 2007 when she made a cameo appearance in the horror film Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon.
Human rights and activism
Rubinstein became active in the fight against AIDS/HIV in 1984. She appeared in a series of advertisements, directed towards gay men specifically, promoting safer sex and AIDS awareness. Rubinstein did so at risk to her own career, especially so shortly after her rise to fame, and admitted later that she did "pay a price, career-wise." She attended the first AIDS Project Los Angeles AIDS Walk.
Illness and death
On December 29, 2009, it was reported that, after a month-long stay at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, her close companion and her family made the decision to take Rubinstein off life support due to both kidney and lung failure. On January 2, 2010, friends reported she was not near death, and was well on her way to recovery. On January 27, 2010, Rubinstein died at Barlow Respiratory Hospital in Los Angeles.