‘Ex­or­cist ’ au­thor Blatty dead at 89

The Hazleton Standard-Speaker - - LOCAL/ NATION - By HILLEL ITALIE AP Na­tional Writer Blatty

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 Os­car-win­ning movie “The Ex­or­cist,” has died. He was 89.

Blatty died Thurs­day at a hos­pi­tal in Bethesda, Mary­land, where he lived, his widow, Julie Ali­cia Blatty, told The As­so­ci­ated Press. The cause of death was mul­ti­ple myeloma, a form of blood can­cer, she said.

In­spired by an in­ci­dent in a Wash­ing­ton sub­urb that Blatty had read about while in col­lege, “The Ex­or­cist” was pub­lished in 1971, fol­lowed two years later by the film of the same name. 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 far wider au­di­ence through the movie ver­sion, di­rected by Wil­liam Fried­kin, pro­duced and writ­ten by 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.”

Named the scari­est movie of all time by En­ter­tain­ment Weekly, “The Ex­or­cist” topped $400 mil­lion world­wide at the box of­fice, among the high­est at the time for an R-rated pic­ture. Os­car vot­ers also of­fered rare re­spect for a hor­ror film: “The Ex­or­cist” was nom­i­nated for 10 Academy Awards and re­ceived two, for best sound and Blatty’s screen­play.

Blatty was mar­ried four times and had eight chil­dren.

“He was an ab­so­lutely won­der­ful, kind, gen­er­ous, faith-filled man, and I was very blessed to be his wife,” Julie Blatty said.

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