Novelist scared up ‘Exorcist’ book, film
NEW YORK — Novelist and filmmaker William Peter Blatty, a former Jesuit school valedictorian who conjured a tale of demonic possession and gave millions the fright of their lives with the bestselling novel and Oscarwinning movie “The Exorcist,” has died. He was 89.
Mr. Blatty died Thursday at a hospital in Bethesda, Md., where he lived, his widow, Julie Alicia Blatty said. The cause of death was multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer, she said.
Inspired by an incident that unfolded in St. Louis and Washington, D.C., that Mr. Blatty had read about while in college, “The Exorcist” was published in 1971, followed two years later by the film of the same name. Mr. Blatty’s story of a 12-year-old-girl inhabited by a satanic force spent more than a year on the New York Times fiction best-seller list and eventually sold more than 10 million copies. It reached a much wider audience through the movie version, directed by William Friedkin, produced and written by Mr. Blatty and starring Linda Blair as the young, bedeviled Regan.
“RIP William Peter Blatty, who wrote the great horror novel of our time,” Stephen King tweeted Friday. “So long, Old Bill.”