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William Peter Blatty, ‘The Exorcist’ Author, Dead at 89

Oscar-winning screenwriter “wrote the great horror novel of our time,” says Stephen King

William Peter Blatty, 'The Exorcist' Author, Dead at 89

William Peter Blatty, the author and Oscar-winning screenwriter of the horror classic 'The Exorcist,' has died at the age of 89.

Everett Collection

William Peter Blatty, the author and Oscar-winning screenwriter of the horror classic The Exorcist, has died at the age of 89.

The Exorcist director William Friedkin revealed news of Blatty’s death, tweeting Friday morning, “William Peter Blatty, dear friend and brother who created The Exorcist passed away yesterday.”

Stephen King tweeted, “RIP William Peter Blatty, who wrote the great horror novel of our time. So long, Old Bill.”

Before authoring what’s considered one of the greatest horror novels of all time and adapting the work into an Oscar-nominated blockbuster, Blatty specialized in comedy, penning numerous humorous feature films – notably The Great Bank Robbery, The Pink Panther sequel A Shot in the Dark, Promise Her Anything and What Did You Do in the War, Daddy? – throughout the Sixties.

In 1971, Blatty published The Exorcist, his “based on true events” story of two priests attempting to vanquish the demons possessing a 12-year-old girl in Washington, D.C. Both the novel and its acclaimed 1973 film adaptation – written by Blatty and directed by Friedkin – permanently impacted the horror genre. 

Blatty won the 1973 Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Exorcist, which was also nominated for Best Picture, a rare honor for a movie in that genre.

Following the success of The Exorcist, Blatty wrote 1978’s The Ninth Configuration; two years later, he would act as director, producer and screenwriter of the 1980 film based on that novel.

Blatty would return to the world he created in The Exorcist with his 1983 novel Legion, which served as the basis for The Exorcist III, which Blatty wrote and directed.

A Fox television series inspired by Blatty’s The Exorcist – with the victim of the titular exorcism of Blatty’s novel now the mother of a possessed child – debuted in 2016.


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