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R.I.P. William Peter Blatty, writer of 'The Exorcist'

The novelist and screenwriter also wrote for the Pink Panther and Dear Abby.

Image: AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian

In 1949, William Peter Blatty was a student at Georgetown University. He heard the story of how a Roman Catholic priest had conducted an exorcism on a boy, known by the pseudonym "Roland Doe," in Georgetown University Hospital. The young Maryland kid was allegedly possessed by a demon.

The incident inspired Blatty to pen his masterpiece, The Exorcist. The novel hit shelves in 1971, followed by its classic film adaptation in 1973, which was written and produced by Blatty. Both the book and movie scared the heck out of everyone in the Seventies.

On Thursday, the horror icon passed away in Bethesda, Maryland, according to Variety. He was 89.

Blatty was a Hollywood veteran by the time he typed up The Exorcist script. He had worked with Blake Edward, crafting the screenplay for the Pink Panther sequel A Shot in the Dark. He was also an uncredited writer on The Omega Man, the 1971 sci-fi flick starring Charlton Heston. 

Previously, Blatty has also ghostwritten the book Dear Teenager for legendary advice columnist Abigail "Dear Abby" van Buren.

In 1971, a guest dropped out of The Dick Cavett Show. The talk show brought on Blatty as a replacement, and the author spent a good portion of the show discussing his novel The Exorcist. The television exposure rocketed the book to No. 1 on the bestsellers list.

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  • Carrie Fisher
  • FLORENCE HENDERSON, BELOVED MOM OF 'THE BRADY BUNCH'
  • GARRY MARSHALL
  • PATTY DUKE
  • Robert Vaughn of 'The Man from U.N.C.L.E.'
  • ZSA ZSA GABOR
  • VAN WILLIAMS, STAR OF 'THE GREEN HORNET'
  • WILLIAM SCHALLERT OF 'THE PATTY DUKE SHOW'
  • EDDIE APPLEGATE OF 'THE PATTY DUKE SHOW'
  • BETH HOWLAND FROM 'ALICE'
  • MIKE MINOR OF 'PETTICOAT JUNCTION'
  • ROBERT HORTON OF 'WAGON TRAIN'
  • ALAN THICKE, STAR OF 'GROWING PAINS'
  • JACK RILEY OF 'THE BOB NEWHART SHOW' AND 'RUGRATS'
  • ANN MORGAN GUILBERT OF 'THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW'
  • RONNIE CLAIRE EDWARDS OF 'THE WALTONS'
  • THERESA SALDANA FROM 'THE COMMISH'
  • FRANK SINATRA, JR.
  • EARL HAMNER, JR., CREATOR OF 'THE WALTONS' AND 'FALCON CREST'
  • ALAN YOUNG OF 'MR. ED'
  • BUCK KARTALIAN FROM 'PLANET OF THE APES'
  • MICHU MESZAROS OF 'ALF'
  • JOE SANTOS OF 'THE ROCKFORD FILES'
  • DORIS ROBERTS, 'RAYMOND' MOM AND 'REMINGTON STEELE' STAR
  • JANET WALDO, VOICE OF JUDY JETSON ON 'THE JETSONS'
  • PETER BROWN, STAR OF 'LAWMAN,' 'LAREDO' AND SOAPS
  • MADELEINE SHERWOOD, MOTHER SUPERIOR ON 'THE FLYING NUN'
  • GEORGE KENNEDY, STAR OF 'COOL HAND LUKE,' 'AIRPORT' AND 'THE NAKED GUN'
  • MARTIN E. BROOKS OF 'THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN' AND 'HUNTER'
  • SYLVIA ANDERSON, CO-CREATOR OF 'THUNDERBIRDS' AND 'SPACE: 1999'
  • RICHARD DAVALOS OF 'EAST OF EDEN'
  • GEORGE GAYNES OF 'POLICE ACADEMY' AND 'PUNKY BREWSTER'
  • GARRY SHANDLING, COMIC AND STAR OF 'THE LARRY SANDERS SHOW'
  • JOE ALASKEY, VOICE OF BUGS BUNNY AND DAFFY DUCK
  • RET TURNER, EMMY-WINNING COSTUME DESIGNER FOR CAROL BURNETT AND CHER
  • KEN HOWARD, STAR OF 'THE WHITE SHADOW'
  • PAT HARRINGTON, JR. OF 'ONE DAY AT A TIME'
  • GARY DUBIN, STAR OF 'THE PARTRIDGE FAMILY'
  • STUART NISBET, WHO APPEARED IN (ALMOST) EVERY TV SHOW
  • JAMES NOBLE OF 'BENSON'
  • FYVUSH FINKEL OF 'PICKET FENCES'
  • DON MARSHALL OF 'LAND OF THE GIANTS' AND 'STAR TREK'
  • JOHN ZACHERLE, A.K.A.
  • MARVIN KAPLAN OF 'ALICE' AND 'TOP CAT'
  • BARRY JENNER OF 'FAMILY MATTERS' AND 'STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE'
  • HUGH O'BRIAN OF 'THE LIFE AND LEGEND OF WYATT EARP'
  • Abe Vigoda of 'Barney Miller'
  • 'BACHELOR FATHER' STAR NOREEN CORCORAN
  • DAN 'GRIZZLY ADAMS' HAGGERTY
  • BERNARD FOX OF 'BEWITCHED' AND 'HOGAN'S HEROES'
  • TAMMY GRIMES, STAR OF 'THE UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN' AND TV
  • GRANT TINKER, FAMOUS TV EXECUTIVE AND CO-FOUNDER OF MTM ENTERPRISES
  • WILLIAM CHRISTOPHER of 'M*A*S*H'
  • Carrie Fisher
  • FLORENCE HENDERSON, BELOVED MOM OF 'THE BRADY BUNCH'
  • GARRY MARSHALL
  • PATTY DUKE
  • Robert Vaughn of 'The Man from U.N.C.L.E.'
  • ZSA ZSA GABOR
  • VAN WILLIAMS, STAR OF 'THE GREEN HORNET'
  • WILLIAM SCHALLERT OF 'THE PATTY DUKE SHOW'
  • EDDIE APPLEGATE OF 'THE PATTY DUKE SHOW'
  • BETH HOWLAND FROM 'ALICE'
  • MIKE MINOR OF 'PETTICOAT JUNCTION'
  • ROBERT HORTON OF 'WAGON TRAIN'
  • ALAN THICKE, STAR OF 'GROWING PAINS'
  • JACK RILEY OF 'THE BOB NEWHART SHOW' AND 'RUGRATS'
  • ANN MORGAN GUILBERT OF 'THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW'
  • RONNIE CLAIRE EDWARDS OF 'THE WALTONS'
  • THERESA SALDANA FROM 'THE COMMISH'
  • FRANK SINATRA, JR.
  • EARL HAMNER, JR., CREATOR OF 'THE WALTONS' AND 'FALCON CREST'
  • ALAN YOUNG OF 'MR. ED'
  • BUCK KARTALIAN FROM 'PLANET OF THE APES'
  • MICHU MESZAROS OF 'ALF'
  • JOE SANTOS OF 'THE ROCKFORD FILES'
  • DORIS ROBERTS, 'RAYMOND' MOM AND 'REMINGTON STEELE' STAR
  • JANET WALDO, VOICE OF JUDY JETSON ON 'THE JETSONS'
  • PETER BROWN, STAR OF 'LAWMAN,' 'LAREDO' AND SOAPS
  • MADELEINE SHERWOOD, MOTHER SUPERIOR ON 'THE FLYING NUN'
  • GEORGE KENNEDY, STAR OF 'COOL HAND LUKE,' 'AIRPORT' AND 'THE NAKED GUN'
  • MARTIN E. BROOKS OF 'THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN' AND 'HUNTER'
  • SYLVIA ANDERSON, CO-CREATOR OF 'THUNDERBIRDS' AND 'SPACE: 1999'
  • RICHARD DAVALOS OF 'EAST OF EDEN'
  • GEORGE GAYNES OF 'POLICE ACADEMY' AND 'PUNKY BREWSTER'
  • GARRY SHANDLING, COMIC AND STAR OF 'THE LARRY SANDERS SHOW'
  • JOE ALASKEY, VOICE OF BUGS BUNNY AND DAFFY DUCK
  • RET TURNER, EMMY-WINNING COSTUME DESIGNER FOR CAROL BURNETT AND CHER
  • KEN HOWARD, STAR OF 'THE WHITE SHADOW'
  • PAT HARRINGTON, JR. OF 'ONE DAY AT A TIME'
  • GARY DUBIN, STAR OF 'THE PARTRIDGE FAMILY'
  • STUART NISBET, WHO APPEARED IN (ALMOST) EVERY TV SHOW
  • JAMES NOBLE OF 'BENSON'
  • FYVUSH FINKEL OF 'PICKET FENCES'
  • DON MARSHALL OF 'LAND OF THE GIANTS' AND 'STAR TREK'
  • JOHN ZACHERLE, A.K.A.
  • MARVIN KAPLAN OF 'ALICE' AND 'TOP CAT'
  • BARRY JENNER OF 'FAMILY MATTERS' AND 'STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE'
  • HUGH O'BRIAN OF 'THE LIFE AND LEGEND OF WYATT EARP'
  • Abe Vigoda of 'Barney Miller'
  • 'BACHELOR FATHER' STAR NOREEN CORCORAN
  • DAN 'GRIZZLY ADAMS' HAGGERTY
  • BERNARD FOX OF 'BEWITCHED' AND 'HOGAN'S HEROES'
  • TAMMY GRIMES, STAR OF 'THE UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN' AND TV
  • GRANT TINKER, FAMOUS TV EXECUTIVE AND CO-FOUNDER OF MTM ENTERPRISES
  • WILLIAM CHRISTOPHER of 'M*A*S*H'

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