‘Exorcist ’ author Blatty dead at 89
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.