Reviews, articles, rants & ramblings on the darker side of the media fringe

Linda Blair

Linda Denise Blair (born January 22, 1959) is an American actress. Blair is best known for her role as the possessed child, Regan, in the film ‘The Exorcist’ (1973), and the ‘Exorcist II: The Heretic’ (1977).

Blair was born in St. Louis, Missouri and raised in Westport, Connecticut. She began her career as a six-year-old child model and started acting with a regular role on the short-lived ‘Hidden Faces’ (1968-69) day time soap. Her first theatrical film appearance was in ‘The Way We Live Now’ (1970). Blair was selected from a field of 600 applicants for her most notable role as Regan in The Exorcist (1973). The role earned her a Golden Globe and Peoples Choice Award for Best Supporting Actress as well as an Academy Award nomination.

The Exorcist is a 1973 horror film directed by William Friedkin, adapted by William Peter Blatty from his 1971 novel of the same name. The book was inspired by the exorcism case of Robbie Mannheim, dealing with the demonic possession of a young girl and her mother’s desperate attempts to win back her daughter through an exorcism conducted by two priests. The film features Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow, Jason Miller and Linda Blair. The film is one of a cycle of “demonic child” films produced in the late 1960s and early 1970s, including ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ and ‘The Omen’. 

The Exorcist was released theatrically in the United States by Warner Bros. on December 26, 1973. The film earned ten Academy Award nominations—winning two (Best Sound and Best Adapted Screenplay), and losing Best Picture to ‘The Sting’, it was robbed. It became one of the highest earning movies of all time, grossing $441 million worldwide.

The film has had a significant influence on popular culture. It was named the scariest film of all time by Entertainment Weekly and Movies.com and by viewers of AMC in 2006, and was #3 on Bravo’s 100 Scariest Movie Moments. In 2010, the Library of Congress selected the film to be preserved as part of its National Film Registry. 

Blair reprised her role in the sequel, ‘Exorcist II: The Heretic’ (1977). Directed by John Boorman from a screenplay by William Goodhart, the film starred Linda Blair, Richard Burton, Louise Fletcher, Max von Sydow, James Earl Jones, Ned Beatty and Kitty Winn. The film is set four years after The Exorcist, and centers on a now 16-year-old Regan McNeil who is still recovering from her previous demonic possession. 

The film was a critical failure at the time of its release, and is often considered the worst film in the series.

Towards the end of the 1970s, Blair encountered trouble with law enforcement authorities as she was arrested and charged with drug possession and conspiracy to sell drugs: after trial, she was found not guilty of possession, but guilty of conspiracy to sell, leading her to get a reduced sentence of three years’ probation. Though she tried to act in films, Blair found it hard to restart her screen career and landed low grade films in the 1980s and later. As she herself said in an interview, her career “went down faster than the Titanic”.

Blair’s career took a new turn in the 1980s, as she starred in a number of low-budget horror and exploitation films, including ‘Hell Night’ (1981), ‘Chained Heat’ (1983) and ‘Savage Streets’ (1984).

Blair featured in the Exorcist spoof, ‘Repossessed’ (1990), and had a cameo role in ‘Scream’ (1996). In 1997, she appeared in a Broadway revival of Grease. She also hosted Fox Family’s ‘Scariest Places On Earth’ (2000-6).

In 2008 she turned up at the 18th annual Malaga Fantasy and Horror Film Festival to accept a lifetime achievement award for her work in the horror genre. She also appeared in the 2009 documentary ‘Confessions of a Teenage Vigilante’, discussing her role as Brenda in Savage Streets (1984). The documentary is included as a bonus feature on the 2009 DVD release of the film.

Blair has become an animal rights activist and humanitarian, working with PETA, Feed The Children, and Variety, the Children’s Charity. Blair also devotes time to her non-profit organization, the Linda Blair WorldHeart Foundation, which works to rescue abused, neglected and mistreated animals.

10 responses

  1. I still have nightmares over the The Exorcist.

    January 22, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    • It’s still my #1 horror movie of all time… saw it too young, in a small old cinema… terrified me and my friends. Awesome. I still get that disturbed sensation every time I watch it.

      January 23, 2012 at 6:29 pm

  2. Keith

    Every time you watch it!! I still get that disturbed sensation every time I think about it!!!…….like now!!!
    Linda Blair was, (and possibly still may well be), a fine actress. Its one of those stories that her career just didnt happen for her the way it should. While the Exorcist brought her the initial fame and attention, it just seems to me that Regan became a mill stone that prevented her career developing as successfully as it should. A role that very much overshadowed the actress!!

    January 24, 2012 at 5:59 am

    • True, Ellen Burstyn went on to an Oscar in her next film, Max von Sydow has had a fantastic career… Linda Blair and Jason Miller have been forever linked with their roles in The Exorcist. I suppose both appearing in sequels didn’t help their cause…

      January 24, 2012 at 6:35 pm

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