William Peter Blatty, the novelist and filmmaker best known for The Exorcist, died Thursday in Maryland. He was 89.
The New York City native was the author of several acclaimed novels (including Elsewhere, Crazy, and John Goldfarb, Please Come Home) and screenplays (including The Great Bank Robbery, Gunn, Darling Lili, and the early Inspector Clouseau film A Shot in the Dark). But he found international fame and fortune with The Exorcist, the terrifying story of a young girl’s Satanic possession and subsequent exorcism; he first wrote the story as a best-selling novel, published in 1971, and both produced and wrote the screenplay for the smash film adaptation, released two years later. It netted him an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.
That film’s director, William Friedkin, warmly remembered his friend and collaborator on Twitter this morning:
Blatty also wrote, produced, and directed the 1980 adaptation of his novel The Ninth Configuration and the 1990 adaptation of his novel Legion, retitled The Exorcist III. Neither could match the considerable success of The Exorcist, though the latter has been reappraised in recent years, and was given the deluxe Blu-ray treatment earlier this year (including a previously unseen Director’s Cut).
According to Blatty’s wife Alicia, the cause of death was a form of blood cancer called multiple myeloma. Fellow horror icon Stephen King praised Blatty in no uncertain terms: