‘The Exorcist’ author William Blatty dies at 89

LOS ANGELES — William Peter Blatty, the novelist and Oscar-winning screenwriter most famous for landmark horror film “The Exorcist” as well as the director of two films, “The Ninth Configuration” and “The Exorcist III,” has died. He was 89.

“Exorcist” director William Friedkin announced the news on Twitter Friday morning: “William Peter Blatty, dear friend and brother who created The Exorcist passed away yesterday,” Friedkin wrote.

Blatty’s 1970 novel “The Exorcist” remained on the New York Times bestseller list for 57 weeks, and he subsequently adapted it for the 1973 bigscreen version directed by William Friedkin.

That film was not only an enormous box office success, playing in theaters for months, but was Oscar nominated for best picture (becoming the first horror film ever so nominated) and won for Blatty’s adapted screenplay.

The film won several polls for scariest horror movie ever, and the Library of Congress designated “The Exorcist” for preservation as part of the National Film Registry in 2010.

In January 2016 Fox ordered an updated reinvention of the original novel to pilot.

Blatty was an experienced screenwriter by the time he wrote the “Exorcist” screenplay. He had worked with Blake Edwards on a number of films: two comedies, “Pink Panther” sequel “A Shot in the Dark” (he and Edwards adapted a play by Harry Kurnitz) and Edwards’ “What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?,” plus “Gunn,” an adaptation of the “Peter Gunn” TV series that he co-wrote with Edwards, and Julie Andrews-Rock Hudson starrer “Darling Lili,” a romantic drama that he also co-penned with Edwards.

Blatty’s other film credits prior to “The Exorcist” were broad political comedy “John Goldfarb, Please Come Home!,” starring Shirley MacLaine and Peter Ustinov, adapted from Blatty’s novel of the same name; Arthur Hiller’s romantic comedy “Promise Her Anything,” with Warren Beatty and Leslie Caron; and comedy Western “The Great Bank Robbery,” with Zero Mostel and Kim Novak.

Blatty was uninvolved in the production of John Boorman’s 1977 sequel “Exorcist II: The Heretic,” which was critically drubbed.

In the late 1970s, however, he had reworked his 1966 novel “Twinkle, Twinkle, ‘Killer’ Kane,” which was republished under the name “The Ninth Configuration,” and he subsequently adapted the material for the bigscreen and directed the 1980 film, a surrealistic thriller centered on a castle in the Pacific Northwest housing insane members of the armed forces and the new officer, played by Stacy Keach, who leads the unit. It failed at the box office but has since attained a cult following.

Blatty’s novel “Legion,” a sequel to “The Exorcist,” was published in 1983, and he adapted the book into the film “The Exorcist III,” which he also directed and produced. “

Exorcist III” drew fairly positive reviews, with Vincent Canby of the New York Times declaring, “This may sound like heresy, but ‘The Exorcist III’ is a better and funnier (intentionally) movie than either of its predecessors.” It was also a modest box office success.

Blatty was uninvolved with the two subsequent “Exorcist” films: 2004 prequel “Exorcist: The Beginning,” a reworking by director Renny Harlin of Paul Schrader’s “Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist,” made earlier but released in 2005. Blatty described “The Beginning” as his “most humiliating professional experience” but said that “Dominion” is “a handsome, classy, elegant piece of work.”

Blatty was born in New York City to parents who had immigrated from Lebanon. After a stint in the Air Force, he entered the Foreign Service, serving as editor of News Review, a United States Information Agency publication, in Beirut. He graduated from Georgetown U. (whose environs later become the setting for “The Exorcist”), then received a master’s in English literature from George Washington U. in 1954.

While nursing a nascent writing career, Blatty worked in PR, serving as public relations director at Loyola U. of Los Angeles and then at USC.

To gather material for a humorous article to be published in the Saturday Evening Post, he went about meeting movie stars while masquerading as a Saudi Arabian prince, then appeared as a contestant on Groucho Marx quizshow “You Bet Your Life,” winning $10,000 – money that allowed him to write full time.

His first novel, “Which Way to Mecca, Jack?,” was published in 1960.

Blatty and director Friedkin sued Warner Bros. in 2001, claiming they had been denied their fair share of profits from a reworking of “The Exorcist.” In 1986 the author sued the New York Times, claiming that the paper had negligently omitted his novel “Legion” from its bestseller list, damaging sales of the book.

Blatty autobiography “I’ll Tell Them I Remember You” was published in 1973, and his memoir “If There Were Demons Then Perhaps There Were Angels: William Peter Blatty’s Own Story of the Exorcist” was published in 1978.

ad-high_impact_4
Entertainment
Tim Burton's imaginative artwork coming to Las Vegas
Tim Burton's imaginative artwork coming to Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Holiday poultry with Tim and Chemaine Jensen of Village Meat & Wine
Tim and Chemaine Jensen of Village Meat & Wine explain the different types of poultry available for the holidays. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Spring Preserve kicks off its Holiday Express
Springs Preserve hosts its Holiday Express, which includes a train ride, visits with Santa, SNOW, and a village winter wonderland.
Artists from Cirque du Soleil contribute art to Las Vegas art exhibit
Artists from Cirque du Soleil contribute art to Las Vegas gallery exhibit
Red Plate on the Las Vegas Strip serves a cocktail made with blooming jasmine tea
Red Plate on the Las Vegas Strip serves a cocktail made with jasmine tea
Benny the Ice Skating Dog
Benny is a Las Vegas Labrador who was rescued by former pro skater Cheryl Del Sanyo, and trained to ice skate. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Nevada State Museum
The Nevada State Museum of Las Vegas, located at the Springs Preserve, covers all eras of the state, from prehistoric to today.
Throw a better dinner party
Cash appears at Baseball Winter Meetings
Lights FC mascot Cash plays the electronic drums at the EZ Inflatables’ booth on Tuesday at the Baseball Winter Meetings trade show at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.
5 albums to soundtrack your holiday gatherings in style
1. Various Artists, “Holidays Rule," with Rufus Wainwright, The Shins, Calexico and more. 2. Various Artists, “We Wish You a Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year," with Lemmy Kilmister, Alice Cooper, Chuck Billy and others. 3. Various Artists, “Christmas on Death Row," featuring Snoop Dogg and Nate Dogg to name but a few. 4. Bright Eyes, “A Christmas Album.” 5. Various Artists, "The Motown Christmas Album." (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Inside the kitchen at Springs Preserve
The staff of Divine Events do party preparation in the kitchen at Divine Cafe at Springs Preserve. With nine parties the following day, this is a particularly busy time for the crew. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
WinterFest
WinterFest in Henderson.
Miss Rodeo America Fashion Show
The 28 women contestants of Miss Rodeo America compete in a fashion show at the Tropicana on Dec. 7, 2018.
Tournament Of Kings Holiday Show
Wizards and warriors are ready for the holidays at Excalibur's Tournament of Kings Holiday Dinner Show.
Take a dive with the Silverton mermaids
A visit to the Silverton Casino Hotel is not complete without taking in the popular, and very unique, mermaid show.
Cowboys and western aficionados can buy virtually anything at Cowboy Christmas
Vegas Golden Knights Christmas Display
In the Las Vegas Valley, the chances of getting a white Christmas are slim. But this year, you can have a “Knight” Christmas. A Henderson resident has a Christmas lights display that is synchronized to the entrance music for the Golden Knights. GG Misa’s Knights light show is played every 30 minutes from 5 to 10 nightly. His light show consists of two songs: Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” and the entrance music, “Le Castle Vania,” from the movie “John Wick.” The display is located at 730 Bollons Island St. (Richard Brian/Las Vegas Reivew-Journal)
Holiday Hooch At El Cortez is Just in Time For Repeal Day And Christmas
Holiday Hooch At El Cortez Is Just In Time For Repeal Day And Christmas. Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal
TV's LGBT superheroes
Green Valley Ranch's Winter's Village
The Mob Museum
Best Friend Menu Reveal Wednesday
Chef Roy Choi tells us what to expect from Wednesday’s Facebook Live Menu Reveal for his new Park MGM restaurant Best Friend. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Quick Chat With Criss Angel
James D. Gish and Susan Anton rehearse
Susan Anton will be special guest at James D. Gish’s holiday concerts Dec. 7 at Summerlin Library and Dec. 9 at Clark County Library. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bellagio Winter Wonderland
"Majestic Holiday Magic" at the Bellagio Conservatory.
Underwater Santa At The Silverton
Santa takes a dive Sunday, December 2, at the Silverton Casino Hotel. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Cowabunga Bay Christmas Town
Las Vegas Natural History Museum
Las Vegas Natural History Museum, which opened in 1991, has exhibits of mechanical dinosaurs and taxidermied animals, along with live snakes, fish and sharks. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Magical Forest Lights
Cirque Du Soleil Performers Team Up For New Show "Kinekt"
Through dance, acrobatics and aerial arts, “Kinekt” tells a story all too familiar to modern families: how to maintain a human connection in the digital age. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
ad-infeed_1
ads_infeed_2
Local Spotlight
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like