It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of William Friedkin, director of the 1973 horror classic, “The Exorcist,” which was based on William Peter Blatty’s bestselling novel about a 12-year-old girl possessed by the devil.  Marcia Franklin, his long-time executive assistant, announced on behalf of his family that Friedkin had passed away peacefully Monday after battling a long-term illness.  “The Exorcist,” enjoyed an impressive cast, including Linda Blair as the possessed girl, Ellen Burstyn as her mother, and Max Von Sydow and Jason Miller as the priests who try to exorcise the devil from her, helped make the film a box office sensation. It was so scary for its era that many viewers fled the theater before it was over, and some reported being unable to sleep for days afterward.

In recent years, Friedkin was often called on to reflect on his career around the 50th anniversaries of his classics and was always candid.  “Everything you see, we actually did. There was no CGI then. There was no way to fake it. I just put the pedal to the metal, and we went 90 miles an hour in city traffic,” he said. “The fact that nobody got hurt is a miracle. The fact that I didn’t get killed, the fact that some of the crew members didn’t get hurt or killed. That’s a chance I would never take again. I was young, and I didn’t give a damn. I just went out and did it. I set out to make a great chase scene, and I didn’t care about the consequences, and now I do.”

Born in Chicago on Aug. 29, 1939, Friedkin began working in local TV productions as a teenager. Despite his successes, Friedkin — who had been experiencing heart issues for some time before his death — never aimed to be one of the greats, yet he was.  Rest In Peace, William Friedkin, you will be missed.  

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