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Thursday July 25, 2024

William Friedkin, ‘The Exorcist’ Director, dead at 87

William Friedkin was best known for Oscar-winning ‘The French Connection’ along with ‘The Exorcist’

By Web Desk
August 07, 2023
William Friedkin, ‘The Exorcist’ Director, dead at 87
William Friedkin, ‘The Exorcist’ Director, dead at 87

William Friedkin is no more.

Leaving behind his Oscar-winning The French Connection and popular The Exorcist, the director passed away on Monday in Los Angeles. He was 87.

Dean of Chapman University Stephen Galloway, a close friend of Friedkin's wife Sherry Lansing, confirmed his demise.

The Venice Film Festival will host the world premiere of his last movie, The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial starring Kiefer Sutherland.

In the 1970s, Friedkin achieved A-list fame alongside Hal Ashby, Francis Ford Coppola, and Peter Bogdanovich as a member of a young, daring group of filmmakers. 

Friedkin contributed a lot of vitality to the horror and police thriller genres, which he specialised in, by fusing his experience in television, notably in documentary film, with a cutting-edge style of editing.

The 1973 film The Exorcist, which earned an amazing $500 million worldwide, together with The Godfather which helped usher in the blockbuster age in cinema, followed the Oscar-winning and critically acclaimed The French Connection in terms of box office success. 

A severely stylized thriller as influential on the horror genre as Connection had been on cop thrillers, The Exorcist was adapted from William Peter Blatty's book about the demonic possession of a little girl. He received a second Oscar nomination for best director as a result.

Following the success of his well-known films from the 1970s, Friedkin created the excellent thriller To Live and Die in L.A. He resumed directing films on a regular basis in 1991 after being married to the head of the company, Sherry Lansing.

Friedkin, a Chicago native, attended Senn High School, where he struggled academically but worked hard to advance his basketball skills to the professional level. But because he was never taller than six feet, he decided to go to journalism.

He was married to Lesley-Anne Down, Jeanne Moreau, and Kelly Lange, a newsreader. Two sons and his fourth wife Lansing are his only survivors.