William Peter Blatty dies at age 89
Obituary | The Catholic novelist and filmmaker was best known for The Exorcist
by Mickey McLean
Posted 1/13/17, 05:56 pm
William Peter Blatty, author of the best-selling novel The Exorcist and producer and writer of the Oscar-winning movie based on the book, has died. His widow, Julie Alicia Blatty, told The Associated Press her husband died Thursday at a hospital in Bethesda, Md., of multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer. He was 89.
The Exorcist, a story published in 1971 about 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.
The film, which came out two years later and named the scariest movie of all time by Entertainment Weekly, topped $400 million worldwide at the box office and was nominated for 10 Academy Awards, winning two, for best sound and for Blatty’s screenplay. Linda Blair starred in the movie as the young, possessed Regan.
Blatty’s frightful tale was inspired by a news report from the late 1940s about a 14-year-old boy from Maryland who was reportedly possessed.
“Like so many Catholics, I’ve had so many little battles of wavering faith over the course of my life,” Blatty, a former Jesuit school valedictorian, told IGN.com in 2000. “And when I heard about this case and read the details, that seemed so compelling. I thought, ‘My God, if someone were to investigate this and authenticate it, what a tremendous boost to faith it would be.’ I thought, ‘Someday I would like to see that happen. You know, I would like to do it.’”
In 2012, Blatty sued Georgetown University, his alma mater and the setting for The Exorcist, in Catholic church courts for straying from church teachings concerning abortion. He said the “last straw” was when the university invited then–Secretary of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to speak. Blatty objected to Sebelius’ role in implementing Obamacare’s contraceptive and abortifacient mandate.
Blatty was married four times and had eight children.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Mickey is executive editor of WORLD Digital.