The Exorcist: The shocking rumour about Linda Blair that terrified audiences for years as the horror film’s director William Friedkin dies aged 87
Famed Hollywood director William ‘Billy’ Friedkin died on Monday morning at the age of 87.
The much admired filmmaker rose to fame in the early 1970s with Oscar-winning box office hits like The French Connection.
But it was in Australia that shocking rumours first emerged about his 1973 satanic blockbuster The Exorcist, which starred a then-unknown Linda Blair.
Blair, 64, first arrived Down Under at age 15 to promote the horror classic, after word had spread that she had been killed off during its making.
There were other stories that the young star had survived the film, but had come away psychologically damaged after acting out the demonic possession.
The star of The Exorcist Linda Blair – pictured – first shared untrue and shocking rumours about the making of the sensational 1973 blockbuster in 2013
Blair, 64, first arrived Down Under at age 15, to promote the horror classic, after word had spread that she had been killed off during its making Pictured: Blair in a horrifying scene from The Exorcist
Hollywood is mourning the passing of Exorcist director William Friedkin who died of pneumonia Monday U.S. time Pictured: William Friedkin accepting the Best Director Oscar in 1972 for his cop thriller The French Connection – the film also won Best Picture
In the film, Blair plays a young girl named Regan whose body is overtaken by the Devil.
Fans, who flocked to the sensational film, were shocked at scenes that showed Blair’s character involved in terrible violence and profanity.
In one gruesome moment Regan is shown masturbating with a crucifix.
Other scenes show the character’s head-spinning and vomiting over a priest, who was trying to expel the demon from Regan’s body.
On a trip to Australia in 2013, Linda Blair admitted to the Daily Telegraph that the films producers had deliberately spread rumours about her and the movie to stir up controversy.
‘There was all this negativity about what I had been through, so I began this world press tour,’ she explained.
‘I went out to England and Australia and all over the world to talk about the film and to show that I was fine.’
Blair was later nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe.
The Exorcist went on to become a massive global success earning US$482million.
Pictured: Linda Blair and Ellen Burstyn in a scene from The Exorcist. There were rumours that the young star had come away psychologically damaged
Pictured: Gene Hackman as brutal cop Popeye Doyle in a scene from The French Connection
Meanwhile, Friedkin’s wife, former studio boss Sherry Lansing, 79, shared news of his passing from pneumonia on Monday, U.S. time.
Beginning his career in non-fiction filmmaking and TV in the 1960s, Friedkin went on to win a Best Director Oscar for the fast-moving cop thriller The French Connection in 1971, which starred Gene Hackman.
He followed up the success of The Exorcist with the cult favourite Sorcerer in 1977.
His other movies include Cruising (1980) with Al Pacino and To Live and Die in L.A. (1985) starring a young William Petersen, who later rose to fame on TV’s CSI.