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William Peter Blatty

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

William Peter Blatty
Blatty in 2009
Blatty in 2009
Born(1928-01-07)January 7, 1928
New York City, U.S.
DiedJanuary 12, 2017(2017-01-12) (aged 89)
Bethesda, Maryland, U.S.
  • Novelist
  • screenwriter
  • film director
EducationGeorgetown University (BA)
George Washington University (MA)
  • Horror
  • drama
  • comedy
  • Mary Margaret Rigard
    (m. 1950; div. 1963)
  • Elizabeth Gilman
    (m. 1965; div. 1971)
  • (m. 1975; div. 1980)
  • Julie Witbrodt
    (m. 1983)
Children7; including J. T. Blatty

William Peter Blatty (January 7, 1928 – January 12, 2017) was an American writer, director and producer.[1] He is best known for his 1971 novel The Exorcist and for his 1973 screenplay for the film adaptation of the same name. Blatty won an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Exorcist, and was nominated for Best Picture as its producer. The film also earned Blatty a Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Drama as producer.

Born and raised in New York City, Blatty received his bachelor's degree in English from Georgetown University in 1950, and his master's degree in English literature from the George Washington University. Following completion of his master's degree in 1954, he joined the United States Air Force and served in the Psychological Warfare Division where he attained the rank of first lieutenant. After service in the air force, he worked for the United States Information Agency in Beirut.

After the success of The Exorcist, Blatty reworked his 1966 novel Twinkle, Twinkle, "Killer" Kane! into a new novel titled The Ninth Configuration, published in 1978. He went on to adapt the novel into a film of the same name, The Ninth Configuration (1980), which was also his directorial debut. At the 38th Golden Globe Awards, the film won Best Screenplay and was nominated for Best Picture.

Blatty refused to have any involvement with the first sequel to The Exorcist, which was ultimately critically panned. However, he would go on to write and direct the second sequel, The Exorcist III (1990), which he adapted from his 1983 novel Legion. His second film as a director, The Exorcist III would turn out to be both his final directorial credit and his final screenplay credit.[1] Blatty would remain active as a novelist for the rest of his life; some of his later notable novels include Elsewhere (2009), Dimiter (2010) and Crazy (2010).

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • William Peter Blatty and The Ninth Configuration (1980)
  • FANTASY FILM FESTIVAL: William Peter Blatty


Early life and education

Blatty was born on January 7, 1928, in New York City.[2][3] He was the fifth and youngest child of Lebanese immigrants,[3][4] Mary (née Mouakad), a devout Catholic and the niece of bishop Germanos Mouakkad, and Peter Blatty, a cloth cutter.[5][6] His parents separated when he was a toddler.[3] He was raised in what he described as "comfortable destitution" by his deeply religious mother, whose sole support came from peddling homemade quince jelly in the streets of Manhattan;[3][5] she once offered a jar of it to Franklin D. Roosevelt when the President was cutting the ribbon for the Queens–Midtown Tunnel, telling him, "For when you have company."[7] He lived at 28 different addresses during his childhood[5] because of nonpayment of rent.[8] "We never lived at the same address in New York for longer than two or three months at a time," Blatty told The Washington Post in 1972. "Eviction was the order of the day."[3] Blatty's mother died in 1967.[5]

He attended Brooklyn Preparatory, a Jesuit school, on a scholarship and graduated as class valedictorian in 1946.[5][9] He later attended Georgetown University on a scholarship,[5] where he earned his bachelor's degree in English in 1950.[3][10] "Those years at Georgetown were probably the best years of my life," Blatty said in 2015. "Until then, I’d never had a home."[3] While studying for his master's degree at George Washington University, Blatty took menial jobs.[6] Initially unable to find a job in teaching, he worked as a vacuum-cleaner door-to-door salesman, a beer-truck driver,[3] and as a United Airlines ticket agent.[2] He earned his master's in English literature from the George Washington University in 1954.[3][10] He then enlisted in the United States Air Force.[2][3]

Mustering out of the Air Force, he joined the United States Information Agency and worked as an editor based in Beirut, Lebanon.[2][5] Eventually, his writing talent emerged, and he began submitting humorous articles to magazines.[10]


In the late 1950s, Blatty worked as the public relations director at Loyola University of Los Angeles[11] and as a publicity director at the University of Southern California.[12][3] He published his first book, Which Way to Mecca, Jack? in 1960,[5] a humorous look at both his early life, and his work at the United States Information Agency in Lebanon.[13][14] The book also tells of his successful masquerade as a Saudi Arabian prince when he got to Los Angeles. In 1961, while still pretending to be a prince, Blatty appeared as a contestant on the Groucho Marx quiz show You Bet Your Life, winning $10,000,[2][5] enough money to quit his job and to write full-time.[5] Thereafter, he never held a regular job.[5][15]

He then published the comic novels: John Goldfarb, Please Come Home! (1963),[5] I, Billy Shakespeare (1965),[2] and Twinkle, Twinkle, "Killer" Kane (1966).[2] He achieved critical success with these books – Marvin Levin in the New York Times, for example, wrote: "Nobody can write funnier lines than William Peter Blatty, a gifted virtuoso who writes like [S. J.] Perelman"; but significant sales were lacking.[2] It was at this point that Blatty began a collaboration with director Blake Edwards,[5] writing scripts for comedy films such as: A Shot in the Dark (1964),[5] What Did You Do in the War, Daddy? (1966),[5] Gunn (1967),[5] and Darling Lili (1970),[5] a musical starring Julie Andrews and Rock Hudson. Blatty also worked on his own using the name "Bill Blatty" writing comedy screenplays such as those for the Danny Kaye film[5] The Man from the Diners' Club (1963), and the Warren Beatty/Leslie Caron film[5] Promise Her Anything (1965). Other screenplays include the film adaptation of John Goldfarb, Please Come Home! (1965),[3] and The Great Bank Robbery (1969).[16]

Later Blatty resumed writing fiction.[2] In 1971, he wrote The Exorcist,[2] the story of a twelve-year-old girl possessed by a powerful demon, that topped The New York Times Best Seller list for 17 weeks and remained on the list for 57 consecutive weeks.[2] The book sold more than 13 million copies in the United States alone and was translated into over a dozen languages.[3] He later adapted it with director William Friedkin into the film version.[5] Blatty went on to win an Academy Award for his Exorcist screenplay,[5] as well as Golden Globes for Best Picture and Best Writing.[10] It also became the first horror film ever to be nominated for the best picture Oscar.[5]

In 1978, Blatty adapted his novel Twinkle, Twinkle, "Killer" Kane into a new book titled The Ninth Configuration,[2] and in 1980 he wrote, directed, and produced a film version, which focused on the question of the existence of God.[2] The film was a commercial flop despite critical acclaim. Movie critic Jerry Stein called it a "masterpiece" in The Cincinnati Post, and Peter Travers described it as "the finest large-scale American surrealist film ever made" in People magazine.[2] At the 38th Golden Globe Awards in 1981 it was nominated for three Golden Globes, and won the Best Writing Award[10] against competition that included The Elephant Man (1980), Ordinary People (1980), and Raging Bull (1980).[2] In 1983, Blatty wrote Legion, a sequel to The Exorcist which later became the basis of the film The Exorcist III.[2] At first he was unable to set up the production because he wanted to direct the film.[citation needed] Blatty's agent, Steve Jaffe, helped package the project[citation needed] with producer Carter DeHaven at Morgan Creek Productions. Blatty directed the film. He originally wanted the movie version to be titled Legion, but the film's producers wanted it to be more closely linked to the original. The first sequel, Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977), was disappointing both critically and commercially.[2] Blatty had no involvement with it and his own follow-up ignored it entirely.[2]

Blatty's son Peter Vincent Blatty died from a rare heart disorder in 2006 at the age of 19.[5][17] His death was the subject of Blatty's non-fiction book that is "part comic memoir, part argument for life after death", titled, Finding Peter: A True Story of the Hand of Providence and Evidence of Life After Death (2015).[17]

In 2011, The Exorcist was re-released in a 40th Anniversary Edition[5] in paperback, hardcover, and audiobook formats with new cover artwork. As described by Blatty, this new, updated edition features new and revised material.

The 40th Anniversary Edition of The Exorcist will have a touch of new material in it as part of an all-around polish of the dialogue and prose. First time around I never had the time (meaning the funds) to do a second draft, and this, finally, is it. With forty years to think about it, a few little changes were inevitable – plus one new character in a totally new very spooky scene. This is the version I would like to be remembered for.[18]

Tor/Forge have also re-published The Ninth Configuration[19] and Legion,[20] with new, updated cover artwork.

The Exorcist was eventually adapted into a stage play starring Richard Chamberlain and Brooke Shields in 2012 and a TV mini-series some years later.[6] The TV series debuted on Fox in 2016.[3] Internationally, the series premiered in Brazil on FX on September 23, 2016, the same day as in the U.S.[21] It premiered in Australia on showcase on December 4, 2016.[22]

Personal life

Blatty married four times and had seven children.[8] With his first wife, Mary Margaret Rigard, whom he married on February 18, 1950, he had three children: Christine Ann, Michael Peter, and Mary Joanne.[23] His first marriage ended in divorce after 13 years.[24] His second wife was Elizabeth Gilman, whom he married in 1965.[24] In July 1975 he married his third wife, tennis professional Linda Tuero, with whom he had two children: restaurant entrepreneur Billy and photojournalist J. T. Blatty.[24][25] Following the dissolution of his first three marriages,[3] Blatty married Julie Alicia Witbrodt, his fourth wife, in 1983,[26][5] with whom he had two children.[27] The couple remained together until Blatty's death.[8] After residing for many years in Hollywood and Aspen, Blatty settled in Bethesda, Maryland in 2000.[3]

Blatty was a Roman Catholic.[28] In 2012, he filed a canon law petition against his alma mater, Georgetown University, which he said has been at variance with Catholic Church teaching for decades, inviting speakers who support abortion rights and disobeying Pope John Paul II's instructions issued to Church-affiliated colleges and universities in 1990.[29] The Vatican rejected the petition in 2014.[30] In a response letter to Blatty, Archbishop Angelo Zani stated that this was because Blatty had not “suffered an objective change” at Georgetown's hands, but acknowledged that Blatty's case constituted "a well-founded complaint".[31]


Blatty died of multiple myeloma on January 12, 2017, at a hospital in Bethesda, five days after his 89th birthday.[2][5] He was interred at Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Silver Spring.[citation needed]

Critical studies

Studies of Blatty's work include G. S. J. Barclay's Anatomy of Horror: The Masters of Occult Fiction.[32] Critical essays on Blatty's work include Douglas E. Winter's essay in A Dark Night's Dreaming: Contemporary American Horror Fiction,[33] and S. T. Joshi's essay "William Peter Blatty: The Catholic Weird Tale" in The Modern Weird Tale: A Critique of Horror Fiction (2001).[34] Essays studying all Blatty's novels can be found in Benjamin Szumskyj's American Exorcist: Critical Essays on William Peter Blatty (McFarland, 2008).


Awards include:

  • The Commonwealth Club Silver Medal for Literature (The Exorcist)[35]
  • The Gabriel Award and American Film Festival Blue Ribbon for Insight TV series episode "Watts Made Out of Thread?"[10]
  • Saturn Awards for The Exorcist,[36] The Ninth Configuration[37] and The Exorcist III
  • The People's Choice Award for the Oscars – Best Picture Award for The Exorcist[38]
  • The Horror Writers Association Lifetime Achievement Award[39]
  • Academy Award, Best Adapted Screenplay (The Exorcist)[5][10]
  • Golden Globe, Best Screenplay (The Ninth Configuration)[9]
  • Golden Globe, Best Picture (The Exorcist)[10]
  • Golden Globe, Best Screenplay (The Exorcist)[40]




  • Blatty, William Peter (1974). I'll Tell Them I Remember You. Barrie & Jenkins. ISBN 978-0-214-20016-8.


  • Blatty, William Peter (1974). William Peter Blatty on 'The Exorcist': From Novel to Screen. Bantam Books. ISBN 0-553-08687-1.
  • Blatty, William Peter (2001). If There Were Demons Then Perhaps There Were Angels: William Peter Blatty's Own Story of the Exorcist. Screenpress Books. ISBN 1-901680-34-7.
  • Blatty, William Peter (2015). Finding Peter: A True Story of The Hand of Providence and Evidence of Life After Death. Regnery Publishing. ISBN 978-1-62157-332-6.[5]


Title Year Credited as Notes Ref(s)
Director Screenwriter Producer
The Man from the Diners' Club 1963 No Yes No [26][44]
A Shot in the Dark 1964 No Yes No [26][42][45]
John Goldfarb, Please Come Home! 1965 No Yes No [46]
Promise Her Anything No Yes No [47][42]
What Did You Do in the War, Daddy? 1966 No Yes No [48]
Gunn 1967 No Yes No [49]
The Great Bank Robbery 1969 No Yes No [50]
Darling Lili 1970 No Yes No [51]
The Exorcist 1973 No Yes Yes [52]
Mastermind 1976 No Yes No Credited as "Terence Clyne" [2]
The Ninth Configuration 1980 Yes Yes Yes [53]
The Exorcist III 1990 Yes Yes No [54]

See also


  1. ^ a b Zak, Dan (October 30, 2013). "William Peter Blatty, writer of 'The Exorcist,' slips back into the light for its 40th anniversary". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 26, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa Cain, Sian (January 13, 2017). "Exorcist author William Peter Blatty Dies Aged 89". The Guardian. Archived from the original on February 23, 2017. Retrieved December 26, 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p "William Peter Blatty, Author of 'The Exorcist', Dies at 89". The Washington Post. January 13, 2017. Archived from the original on February 23, 2017. Retrieved January 13, 2017.
  4. ^ Nelson, Emmanuel Sampath, ed. (2000). Asian American Novelists: A Bio-bibliographical Critical Sourcebook (illustrated ed.). Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 18. ISBN 978-0-313-30911-3. William Peter blatty.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab Vitello, Paul (January 13, 2017). "William Peter Blatty, Author of 'The Exorcist,' Dies at 89". The New York Times.
  6. ^ a b c "William Peter Blatty obituary". The Guardian. January 16, 2017. Retrieved February 3, 2017.
  7. ^ "Words of Wisdom: William Peter Blatty". American Task Force for Lebanon. April 1, 2015. Archived from the original on January 18, 2017. Retrieved January 16, 2017.
  8. ^ a b c "Exorcist author William Peter Blatty dead at 89: Stephen King and Edgar Wright lead tributes". The Telegraph. January 13, 2017. Retrieved December 26, 2017.
  9. ^ a b "'Exorcist' author William Peter Blatty dies at 89". Los Angeles Times. January 13, 2017. Retrieved December 26, 2017.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h "William Peter Blatty: Author, Screenwriter, Director". The Washington Post.
  11. ^ "Religion: The Exorcist Debate". Time. January 21, 1974. Archived from the original on December 22, 2008. Retrieved December 26, 2017.
  12. ^ "Overview for William Peter Blatty". TCM. Retrieved December 26, 2017.
  13. ^ Joshi, S.T. (2001). The Modern Weird Tale (illustrated ed.). McFarland. p. 50. ISBN 978-0-7864-0986-0.
  14. ^ Hebel, Udo J. (2009). Transnational American Memories (illustrated ed.). Walter de Gruyter. p. 129. ISBN 978-3-11-022420-7.
  15. ^ LoBrutto, Vincent (2018). TV in the USA: A History of Icons, Idols, and Ideas. Greenwood. p. 160. ISBN 978-1440829727.
  16. ^ "William Peter Blatty, 'The Exorcist' Author, Dead at 89". Rolling Stone. January 13, 2017. Retrieved December 26, 2017.
  17. ^ a b O'Sullivan, Michael (April 14, 2015). "William Peter Blatty talks literature, life after death and lousy movies". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 26, 2017.
  18. ^ Further 40th Details,; Retrieved December 26, 2017.
  19. ^ "The Ninth Configuration – William Peter Blatty". Macmillan. Archived from the original on May 13, 2014. Retrieved May 10, 2014.
  20. ^ "Legion – William Peter Blatty". Macmillan. Archived from the original on May 13, 2014. Retrieved May 10, 2014.
  21. ^ Marafon, Renato (September 6, 2016). "The Exorcist premiere in Brazil at the same day that premiered in USA". CinePop. Retrieved December 26, 2017.
  22. ^ Purcell, Charles (November 24, 2016). "New This Week (Nov 28): The Exorcist, DC Crossover, Shark Week, FFA Final, Wallabies and live sport". The Green Room. Retrieved December 26, 2017.
  23. ^ Reginald, R.; Menville, Douglas; Burgess, Mary A. (2010). Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature. Vol. 2 (illustrated ed.). Wildside Press LLC. p. 820. ISBN 978-0-941028-78-3.
  24. ^ a b c Evory, Ann (1983). Contemporary Authors New Revision Series: A Bio-Bibliographical Guide to Current Writers in Fiction, General Non-Fiction, Poetry, Journalism, Drama, Motion Pictures, Television, & Other Fields. Gale. p. 58. ISBN 978-0-8103-1938-7.
  25. ^ "Linda Tuero". Excellence in Education: Celebrating the Artistic, Academic, Athletic, and Administrative Achievements of the Women of Tulane University. Howard-Tilton Memorial Library. Retrieved March 30, 2022.
  26. ^ a b c The International Who's Who 2004. Psychology Press. 2003. p. 175. ISBN 978-1-85743-217-6.
  27. ^ Hall, Loretta (1999). Arab American biography (illustrated ed.). U.X.L. p. 80. ISBN 978-0-7876-2954-0.
  28. ^ "The Father King Society – to Make Georgetown Honest, Catholic and Better". Archived from the original on January 12, 2017. Retrieved December 26, 2017.
  29. ^ Burke, Daniel (May 18, 2012). "National Exorcist author, William Peter Blatty, to sue Georgetown University in Catholic court". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 26, 2017.
  30. ^ Boorstein, Michelle (May 13, 2014). "Vatican Responds to Georgetown Petition". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 19, 2021.
  31. ^ Angelo Zani (April 4, 2004). "Letter from the Vatican". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on December 6, 2022. Retrieved May 17, 2022.
  32. ^ Anatomy of Horror: The Masters of Occult Fiction New York: St. Martins, 1978.
  33. ^ "Casting Out Demons: The Horror Fiction of William Peter Blatty" in Tony Magistrale and Michael A. Morrison, eds. A Dark Night's Dreaming: Contemporary American Horror Fiction. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1996. ISBN 1-57003-070-7. (pp. 84–96) .
  34. ^ Joshi, S.T. (2001). The Modern Weird Tale: A Critique of Horror Fiction. McFarland & Company. ISBN 978-0-7864-0986-0.
  35. ^ Kay, Ernest (1976). The International authors and writers who's who. International Biographical Centre. p. 57. ISBN 978-0-900332-34-0.
  36. ^ "1973 Film Awards for Best Horror Film Release". Saturn Awards.
  37. ^ "William Peter Blatty, l'auteur de "L'exorciste", est décédé". January 13, 2017.
  38. ^ Riggs, Thomas, ed. (2000). Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television. Gale / Cengage Learning. p. 47. ISBN 978-0-7876-4636-3.
  39. ^ "1997 Bram Stoker Award Nominees & Winners". Horror Writers Association. Archived from the original on February 2, 2017. Retrieved January 14, 2017.
  40. ^ "The Exorcist". Golden Globe Awards.
  41. ^ Blatty, William P. (November 1, 1980). John Goldfarb, Please Come Home. Bantam Books. ISBN 0-553-14251-8.
  42. ^ a b c d e f "Exorcist writer William Peter Blatty dies aged 89". BBC News. January 13, 2017.
  43. ^ Blatty, William Peter (February 1, 2011). The Redemption. Piatkus Books. ISBN 978-0-7499-5373-7.
  44. ^ "The Man From the Diner's Club". American Film Institute. Retrieved February 17, 2019.
  45. ^ "A Shot in the Dark". American Film Institute. Retrieved February 17, 2019.
  46. ^ "John Goldfarb, Please Come Home!". American Film Institute. Retrieved February 17, 2019.
  47. ^ Deming, Mark. "Promise Her Anything". AllMovie. Retrieved February 17, 2019.
  48. ^ "What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?". American Film Institute. Retrieved February 17, 2019.
  49. ^ "Gunn". American Film Institute. Retrieved February 17, 2019.
  50. ^ "The Great Bank Robbery". American Film Institute. Retrieved February 17, 2019.
  51. ^ "Darling Lili". American Film Institute. Retrieved February 17, 2019.
  52. ^ "The Exorcist". American Film Institute. Retrieved February 17, 2019.
  53. ^ "The Ninth Configuration". American Film Institute. Retrieved February 17, 2019.
  54. ^ "The Exorcist III". American Film Institute. Retrieved February 17, 2019.

External links

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