Nov­el­ist scared up ‘Ex­or­cist’ book, film

San Francisco Chronicle Late Edition - - NATION - By Hil­lel Italie

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.”

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