Linda Blair
Blair in 2018
Born
Linda Denise Blair

(1959-01-22) January 22, 1959 (age 62)
Occupation
  • Actress
  • activist
Years active1968–present
OrganizationLinda Blair WorldHeart Foundation
Websitelindablair.com

Linda Denise Blair (born January 22, 1959)[1][2] is an American actress and activist. She is best known for playing Regan MacNeil in the horror film The Exorcist (1973), for which she won a Golden Globe Award and received a nomination for an Academy Award. The film established her as a horror icon; she reprised the role in Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977), for which she was nominated for a Saturn Award.

Blair went on to star in numerous television films, such as Born Innocent (1974), Sarah T. – Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic (1975), and Stranger in Our House (1978), before establishing herself as a sex symbol in the romantic musical film Roller Boogie (1979).[3] The 1980s had her starring in numerous horror and exploitation films, including the slasher Hell Night (1981), the prison drama Chained Heat (1983), and the grindhouse cult thriller Savage Streets (1984). She was the host of the Fox Family reality series Scariest Places on Earth (2001–2003) and had regular appearances on the Animal Planet series Pit Boss (2010–2012).

Besides her acting, Blair has publicly supported various charitable causes, particularly animal rights. In 2004, she founded the Linda Blair WorldHeart Foundation, a nonprofit organization that serves to rehabilitate and adopt rescue animals. A vegan, Blair co-authored the book Going Vegan! in 2001.

Early life

Blair was born January 22, 1959, in St. Louis, Missouri,[4] to James Frederick and Elinore (née Leitch) Blair.[5] She has an older sister, Debbie, and an older brother, Jim.[6] When Blair was two years old, her father, a Navy test pilot-turned-executive recruiter, took a job in New York City, and the family relocated to Westport, Connecticut.[6][7] Her mother worked as a real-estate agent in Westport.[8] She worked as a child model at age five,[9] appearing in Sears, J.C. Penney, and Macy's catalogues, and in over 70 commercials for Welch's grape jams and various other companies.[6][7] Blair secured a contract at age six for a series of print ads in The New York Times.[4] At the age of six, Blair began riding horses, later becoming a trained equestrian.[10]

Career

1968–1978: Early work and The Exorcist franchise

Blair attending the 46th Academy Awards in 1974, where she received her first Academy Award nomination for The Exorcist (1973)
Blair attending the 46th Academy Awards in 1974, where she received her first Academy Award nomination for The Exorcist (1973)

Blair started acting with a regular role on the short-lived Hidden Faces (1968–69) daytime soap opera.[9] Her first theatrical film appearance was in The Way We Live Now (1970), followed by a bit part in the comedy The Sporting Club (1971).[10] In 1972, Blair was selected from a field of 600 applicants for her most notable role as Regan, the possessed daughter of a famous actress, in William Friedkin's The Exorcist (1973). The role earned her a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress, and an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.[9] Film critic and historian Mark Clark notes that in her performance, "Blair matches [adult co-star] Ellen Burstyn note-for-note."[11] Despite the film's critical successes, Blair received media scrutiny for her role in the film, which was deemed by some as "blasphemous", and Blair has said the film had significant impact on her life and career.[9] After the film's premiere in December 1973, some reporters speculated about Blair's mental state, suggesting the filming process had resulted in her having a mental breakdown, which Blair denied,[4] and she later received anonymous death threats.[4] To combat the rumors and media speculation surrounding her, Warner Bros. sent the then-14-year-old Blair on an international press tour in hopes of demonstrating that she was "just a normal teenager".[4]

Blair starred opposite Kim Hunter in the wildly controversial television film Born Innocent (1974),[12] in which she plays a runaway teenager who is sexually abused.[13] The film was criticized by the National Organization for Women, the New York Rape Coalition, and numerous gay and lesbian rights organizations for its depiction of female-on-female sexual abuse; the Lesbian Feminist Liberation dismissed the film, stating: "Men rape, women don't," and regarded the film as "propaganda against lesbians."[14] After filming Born Innocent, Blair also had a supporting part as a teenaged kidney-transplant patient in the disaster film Airport 1975 (1974), which was critically panned, but a success at the box office.[15] A steady series of job offers led Blair to relocate to Los Angeles in 1975, where she lived with her older sister, Debbie.[4] Between 1975 and 1978, she had lead roles in numerous television films: Sarah T. – Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic (1975), as a teenager who becomes addicted to alcohol;[13] Sweet Hostage (1975) opposite Martin Sheen, in which she plays a kidnapping victim;[13] and Victory at Entebbe (1976), a war drama starring Anthony Hopkins and Elizabeth Taylor.[16]

In 1977, Blair reprised her role as Regan in the Exorcist sequel, Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977), garnering a Saturn Award nomination for Best Actress of 1978.[2] The film was a critical and commercial failure, however, and at the time was the most expensive film ever made by Warner Bros. Studios.[17] After filming Exorcist II: The Heretic, Blair took a year off from acting and competed in national equestrian circuits under the pseudonym Martha McDonald.[6] In 1978, she made a return to acting in the Wes Craven-directed television horror film Stranger in Our House (retitled Summer of Fear), based on the novel by Lois Duncan,[18] and also with the lead role in the Canadian production Wild Horse Hank, in which she used her equestrian skills to play a college student saving wild horses from ranchers.[19]

1979–1999: Independent films and other ventures

Blair's career took a new turn in 1979 with her starring role in the musical drama Roller Boogie, which established her as a sex symbol.[20] The following year, she co-starred with Dirk Benedict in Ruckus, playing a young woman who helps a maligned Vietnam veteran evade antagonistic locals in a small town.[21] She also starred in a number of financially successful low-budget horror and exploitation films throughout much of the 1980s. She starred opposite Peter Barton and Vincent Van Patten in the slasher film Hell Night (1981), followed by roles in the women-in-prison film Chained Heat (1983), playing a teenager in a women's prison,[22] and the exploitation thriller Savage Streets (1984), in which she plays the lead of a female vigilante street gang who targets male rapists.[20] In a review of Savage Streets published by TV Guide, her performance was deemed "her best since The Exorcist (1973)... and that's not saying much."[23] Also in 1983, Blair posed nude in an issue of Playboy.[7] In 1985, Blair starred again in another women-in-prison feature titled Red Heat, playing a prisoner of war in West Germany.[24] This was followed by a lead in the direct-to-video film Night Force (1985), in which Blair portrayed a woman who travels to Mexico to save her friend from terrorists.[25]

Blair in 1999
Blair in 1999

The era of Blair's career between 1980 and 1985 was marked by some critical backlash, with Blair earning a total of five Razzie Award nominations and being awarded two Razzies for Worst Actress.[26] In the late 1980s, she worked in numerous low-budget horror films, including Grotesque (1988), opposite Tab Hunter,[27] and the Italian production Witchery (1988), opposite David Hasselhoff.[18] The following year, she starred in the romantic comedy Up Your Alley opposite Murray Langston,[28] and the Exorcist spoof Repossessed in 1990, co-starring Leslie Nielsen.[18] She also appeared in several Australian B-movies in the early 1990s, including Fatal Bond (1991) and Dead Sleep (1992).[29] In 1997, Blair reunited with director Wes Craven for a cameo role as a reporter in Scream (1996),[18] and also starred in a Broadway revival of Grease, playing Rizzo.[18] Also in 1997, she appeared in a documentary for Channel 4 in the United Kingdom entitled Didn't You Used to be Satan?, which served as a biography of her life to that point and how the film The Exorcist had dominated her career and life.[30]

Blair appeared in critic Mark Kermode's 1998 BBC documentary The Fear of God (which Kermode directed and hosted), included as a special feature on the DVD of The Exorcist.[31] In 1999, Blair appeared in an online parody of The Blair Witch Project titled The Blair Bitch Project.[32]

2000–present: Retrospective and activism

In 2000, she was cast as a regular in the BBC television show, L.A. 7, and between 2001 and 2003, hosted Fox Family's Scariest Places on Earth, a reality series profiling reportedly haunted locations throughout the world.[33] Blair devotes time to a nonprofit organization she established in 2004, the Linda Blair WorldHeart Foundation, which works to rescue and rehabilitate abused, neglected, and mistreated animals and provide them with needed pet care.[34] As an adult, she became an animal rights activist and humanitarian, working with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Feed the Children, Variety, the Children's Charity, and other organizations,[2] as well as advocating for teen HIV/AIDS awareness.[10] Blair is on the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society operation’s board of advisors.[35] In August 2005, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Blair travelled to Mississippi and saved 51 abandoned dogs.[36]

I'm proud of it ... but it has nothing to do with what I am as an adult. I think I have been extremely polite about answering questions about The Exorcist almost every single day of my life.

— Blair on her role in The Exorcist, 2006[36]

In 2006, she guest-starred on The CW television series Supernatural playing the part of Detective Diana Ballard, as she aids Sam and Dean Winchester in the episode "The Usual Suspects", which aired November 9, 2006.[36] In 2008, she appeared at the 18th annual Malaga Fantasy and Horror Film Festival to accept a lifetime achievement award for her work in the horror genre. Blair appeared the following year in the documentary Confessions of a Teenage Vigilante, discussing her role as Brenda in Savage Streets (1984). The documentary was included as a bonus feature on the 2009 DVD release of the film.

In 2010, she appeared as herself on the cable series Pit Boss and Jury Duty. She appeared in the 2011 Rick Springfield documentary Affair of the Heart,[37] and was a panelist in a 2011 episode of The Joy Behar Show. In late 2011, Blair appeared at the taped Governors Awards for the 84th Academy Awards ceremony, honoring makeup artist Dick Smith, who had created the iconic makeup for Blair in The Exorcist.[38] In 2013, Blair accepted a role in the comedy web series Whoa!, and has since appeared in the 2016 feature The Green Fairy, and the films Surge of Power: Revenge of the Sequel (2016) and the upcoming Landfill (post-production).

Personal life

At age 15, Blair dated Australian singer Rick Springfield, whom she met during a concert at the Whisky a Go Go.[4][6] She also dated Deep Purple bassist Glenn Hughes.[6] Between late 1979 and mid-1981, Blair dated Styx guitarist Tommy Shaw. In the early 1990s, Blair was in a relationship with actor Wings Hauser.[8]

Blair in 2012
Blair in 2012

In a 1982 interview accompanying a topless pictorial in Oui, Blair revealed that she found Rick James "very sexy". James, who was shown the piece by a member of his retinue, returned the compliment through an intermediary.[39] They dated for two years and James wrote his hit song "Cold Blooded" about her. Speaking on their relationship in his book Glow: The Autobiography of Rick James, he says "Linda was incredible. A free spirit. A beautiful mind. A mind-blowing body. She liked getting high and getting down as much as I did. We posed topless for a photograph that showed up everywhere. We didn't care. We were doing our own thing our own way. It was a love affair that I hoped would last. It didn't." James revealed that he found out Blair had been pregnant by him and had an abortion without his knowledge.[40]

On December 20, 1977, at 18 years old, she encountered trouble with federal law enforcement authorities as she was arrested for drug possession and conspiracy to sell drugs.[41] She pled guilty to a reduced charge of conspiracy to possess cocaine, in exchange for three years' probation. She was also required to make at least 12 major public appearances to tell young people about the dangers of drug abuse.[42]

Blair was a vegetarian for 13 years before becoming a vegan in 2001.[7] In 2014, she revealed that she was treated for an umbilical hernia.[43] As of 2015, Blair resides in Coto de Caza, California.[44]

Filmography

Film

Year Title Role Notes Ref.
1970 The Way We Live Now Sara Aldridge [9]
1971 The Sporting Club Barby [10]
1973 The Exorcist Regan MacNeil [45]
1974 Airport 1975 Janice Abbott [15]
Born Innocent Chris Parker Television film [46]
1975 Sarah T. – Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic Sarah Travis [46]
Sweet Hostage Doris Mae Withers [13]
1976 Victory at Entebbe Chana Vilnofsky [16]
1977 Exorcist II: The Heretic Regan MacNeil [17]
1978 Stranger in Our House Rachel Bryant Television film; also known as: Summer of Fear [18]
1979 Wild Horse Hank Hank Bradford [19]
Roller Boogie Terry Barkley [20]
1980 Ruckus Jenny Bellows [21]
1981 Hell Night Marti Gaines [47]
1983 Chained Heat Carol Henderson [48]
1984 Night Patrol Officer Sue Perman [20]
Savage Streets Brenda [49]
Terror in the Aisles Regan MacNeil Archive footage [50]
1985 Red Heat Christine Carlson [24]
Savage Island Daly [51]
1987 SFX Retaliator Doris Also known as: The Heroin Deal [50]
Nightforce Carla [52]
1988 Moving Target Sally Tyler [50]
Grotesque Lisa [27]
Silent Assassins Sara [50]
Witchery Jane Brooks [53]
1989 Up Your Alley Vickie Adderly [28]
The Chilling Mary Hampton Also known as: Gamma 693 [50]
Aunt Millie's Will Unknown Short film [50]
W.B., Blue and the Bean Annette Ridgeway Also known as: Bailout [50]
Linda Blair’s How To Get Revenge Herself Direct to VHS film [54]
1990 Zapped Again! Miss Mitchell [55]
Repossessed Nancy Aglet [56]
Dead Sleep Maggie Healey [29]
1991 Bedroom Eyes II Sophie Stevens [57]
Fatal Bond Leonie Stevens [58]
1992 Calendar Girl, Cop, Killer?: The Bambi Bembenek Story Jane Mder Television film [50]
Perry Mason: The Case of the Heartbroken Bride Hannah Hawkes [50]
1993 Bad Blood Evie Barners [59]
Phone Unknown Short film [50]
1994 Skins Maggie Joiner [50]
Double Blast Claudia Television film [50]
1995 Sorceress Amelia Reynolds [60]
1996 Prey of the Jaguar Cody Johnson [61]
Scream Obnoxious Reporter Uncredited [18]
1997 Marina Marina Short film [50]
2003 Monster Makers Shelly Stoker Television film [50]
2005 Diva Dog: Pit Bull on Wheels Unknown Short film [50]
Hitters Anonymous Brenda [50]
2006 All Is Normal Barbara [50]
The Powder Puff Principle School Board President Short film [62]
2009 IMPS* Jamie Filmed in 1983 [63]
2012 An Affair of the Heart Herself Documentary [37]
2016 Surge of Power: Revenge of the Sequel Helen Harris [64]

Television

Year Title Role Notes Ref.
1968–1969 Hidden Faces Allyn Jaffe Unknown episodes [65]
1982 Fantasy Island Sarah Jean Rollings Episode:"King Arthur in Mr. Rourke's Court" [66]
The Love Boat Muffy Episode: "Isaac Gets Physical" [67]
1985 Murder, She Wrote Jane Pascal Episode: "Murder Takes the Bus" [67]
1989 Monsters La Strega Episode: "La Strega" [67]
1990 MacGyver Jenny Larson Episode: "Jenny's Chance" [67]
1992 Married... with Children Ida Mae Episode: "The Magnificent Seven" [67]
1996 Renegade Teddy Rae Thompson Episode: "Self Defense" [68]
1998 Psi Factor: Chronicles of the Paranormal Rebecca Royce Episode: "All Hallow's Eve" [67]
1999 Godzilla: The Series Alexandra Springer Episode: "S.C.A.L.E." [69]
2000 L.A. 7 Joni Witherspoon 9 episodes [67]
2000–2003 Hollywood Squares Herself 10 episodes [67]
2001–2006 Scariest Places on Earth Herself / Host 41 episodes [67]
2001 Intimate Portrait Herself 1 episode
2002 History's Mysteries 2 episodes
2006 Supernatural Detective Diana Ballard Episode: "The Usual Suspects" [67]
2010–2012 Pit Boss Herself 12 episodes [67]
2012 Celebrity Ghost Stories 1 episode [67]
2013 Battling Darkness TV documentary
2014 RuPaul's Drag Race Episode: "Scream Queens" [67]
2018 Eli Roth's History of Horror 1 episode
American Rescue Dog Show Guest judge
2019 E! True Hollywood Story Episode: "Horror Movies: Cursed or Coincidence?"
2020 JJ Villard's Fairy Tales Various Voice roles; 2 episodes
Cursed Films Herself Episode: "The Exorcist"

Awards and nominations

List of awards and nominations received by Linda Blair
Organization Year[a] Work(s) Category Result
Academy Awards 1974 The Exorcist Best Supporting Actress Nominated
Golden Globe Awards 1974 Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture Won
1974 New Star of the Year – Actress Nominated
Golden Raspberry Awards 1982 Hell Night Worst Actress Nominated
1984 Chained Heat Nominated
1985 Herself Scream Queen Won
1986 Night Patrol Worst Actress Won
Savage Island Won
Savage Streets Won

See also

References

  1. ^ "Linda Blair". Turner Classic Movies. Archived from the original on December 17, 2020. Linda Denise Blair; Birth Place St Louis, Missouri, USA; Born January 22, 1959
  2. ^ a b c "Cast > Linda Blair". Official website for ‘’The Exorcist’’. Warner Brothers. Archived from the original on August 15, 2000. Retrieved March 18, 2010. ...Blair was born in 1959. After beginning a career as a child model at the age of six, she moved into acting as a regular on the daytime drama 'Hidden Faces' (1968-69). Although many presume 'The Exorcist’ was Blair's first film, she debuted in 1971's 'The Sporting Club.’
  3. ^ "'Exorcist' fans line up in Long Beach to meet actress Linda Blair – and help her help animals". Press Telegram. August 19, 2018. Retrieved May 18, 2021.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g "Linda Blair". Biography. October 28, 2003. A&E Network.
  5. ^ "The Exorcist". American Film Institute. Retrieved September 26, 2017.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Leach, Robin (July 11, 1977). "The Devil Can't Make Her". People. 8 (2).
  7. ^ a b c d Quinn, Karl (December 21, 2013). "Lunch with... Linda Blair". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved September 28, 2017.
  8. ^ a b Kaufman, Joanne. "Wings of Desire". People. 40 (22). Retrieved September 22, 2017.
  9. ^ a b c d e Lee 2017, p. 122.
  10. ^ a b c d Lea, Tony Clayton (January 6, 2001). "Linda Blair". The Irish Times. Retrieved September 28, 2017.
  11. ^ Clark, Mark (2011). Smirk, Sneer and Scream: Great Acting in Horror Cinema. McFarland. p. 237. ISBN 978-0-786-42682-9.
  12. ^ Levine 2007, pp. 71–4.
  13. ^ a b c d Lee 2017, p. 125.
  14. ^ Levine 2007, p. 90.
  15. ^ a b Mansour, David (2011). From Abba to Zoom: A Pop Culture Encyclopedia of the Late 20th Century. Andrews McMeel Publishing. p. 4. ISBN 978-0-740-79307-3.
  16. ^ a b Lee 2017, p. 126.
  17. ^ a b Lee 2017, p. 127.
  18. ^ a b c d e f g Lee 2017, p. 129.
  19. ^ a b Djuff, Ray; Morrison, Chris (2005). Waterton and Glacier in a Snap!: Fast Facts and Titillating Trivia. Rocky Mountain Books Ltd. pp. 91–2. ISBN 978-1-894-76556-5.
  20. ^ a b c d Lee 2017, p. 128.
  21. ^ a b Weldon 1996, p. 475.
  22. ^ Walters 2010, p. 113.
  23. ^ "Savage Streets Review". TV Guide. Retrieved September 22, 2017.
  24. ^ a b Walters 2010, p. 114.
  25. ^ Martin, Mick; Porter, Marsha (1997). Video Movie Guide 1998 (Revised ed.). Ballantine Books. p. 762. ISBN 978-0-345-40793-1.
  26. ^ Wilson, John (2005). The Official Razzie Movie Guide: Enjoying the Best of Hollywood's Worst. Grand Central Publishing. p. 361. ISBN 978-0-446-69334-9.
  27. ^ a b Young 2000, p. 262.
  28. ^ a b Langman, Larry (2009). The Media in the Movies: A Catalog of American Journalism Films, 1900–1996. McFarland. p. 275. ISBN 978-1-476-60925-6.
  29. ^ a b Young 2000, p. 144.
  30. ^ Lee 2017, p. 130.
  31. ^ Kermode, Mark (director) (1998). The Fear of God: 25 Years of 'The Exorcist'. British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).
  32. ^ Persaud, Babita (September 25, 1999). "Blair lets fans have their scary little dream Series". St. Petersburg Times. p. 1B.
  33. ^ Blair, Linda (April 13, 2001). "Are There Ghosts?" (Transcript). Larry King Live. CNN. Retrieved September 28, 2017.
  34. ^ "Linda Blair-WorldHeart Foundation". GuideStar. Retrieved September 26, 2017.
  35. ^ "Linda Blair: Charity Work & Causes". Look to the Stars. Retrieved December 3, 2020.
  36. ^ a b c Sacks, Ethan (November 9, 2006). "Possession is 9/10ths of Linda Blair's Career". New York Daily News. Retrieved September 20, 2017.
  37. ^ a b Webster, Andy (October 9, 2012). "For the Fans of an Idol, It's 1982". The New York Times. Retrieved September 28, 2017.
  38. ^ Kilday, Gregg (October 31, 2011). "The Academy Throws a Mini-Film Festival Tied to the Governors' Awards". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 26, 2017.
  39. ^ "Despite a Frightening Collapse, Funkstar Rick James Won't Let Anyone Rein Him in – Vol. 18 No. 21". PEOPLE.com. November 22, 1982. Retrieved November 4, 2017.
  40. ^ "The 12 Most Rick James–y Moments in Rick James's New Memoir, Glow". Vulture. July 11, 2014. Retrieved December 13, 2017.
  41. ^ "Linda Blair and 31 Held in Drug Case". December 21, 1977 – via NYTimes.com.
  42. ^ "Actress Linda Blair Gets Probation in Drug Case". Lakeland Ledger. September 6, 1979.
  43. ^ "Linda Blair's Health Scare". The Doctors. April 15, 2014. Retrieved September 28, 2017.
  44. ^ "Bode Miller Selling Coto de Caza Home for $4.9 Million". Snow Industry News. October 21, 2015. Archived from the original on September 28, 2017. Retrieved September 28, 2017.
  45. ^ Young 2000, p. 199.
  46. ^ a b Levine 2007, p. 91.
  47. ^ Young 2000, p. 274.
  48. ^ Young 2000, p. 92.
  49. ^ Weldon 1996, p. 484.
  50. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q "Linda Blair Biography (1959–)". Film Reference. Retrieved September 28, 2017.
  51. ^ Young 2000, p. 541.
  52. ^ Weldon 1996, p. 395.
  53. ^ Weldon 1996, p. 624.
  54. ^ How to Get... Revenge, retrieved February 16, 2020
  55. ^ Young 2000, p. 709.
  56. ^ Young 2000, p. 518.
  57. ^ Weldon 1996, p. 44.
  58. ^ Weldon 1996, p. 200.
  59. ^ Weldon 1996, p. 35.
  60. ^ Weldon 1996, p. 520.
  61. ^ Young 2000, p. 497.
  62. ^ "The Powder Puff Principle (2006)". British Film Institute. Retrieved September 28, 2017.
  63. ^ Latchem, John (February 6, 2009). "IMPS: Immoral Minority Picture Show". Home Media Magazine. Retrieved September 22, 2017.
  64. ^ Roth, Vincent J. (June 12, 2017). "Cinema's First Out Gay Superhero @ Florida Supercon July 29th" (PDF). Surge of Power. Retrieved September 28, 2017.
  65. ^ Erickson, Hal (2009). Encyclopedia of Television Law Shows: Factual and Fictional Series About Judges, Lawyers and the Courtroom, 1948–2008. McFarland. p. 121. ISBN 978-0-786-45452-5.
  66. ^ Topel, Fred (February 15, 2013). "Ahead of My Time: Linda Blair Revisits The Exorcist Movies". Crave. Retrieved September 28, 2017.
  67. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Linda Blair Credits". TV Guide. CBS Interactive. Retrieved September 28, 2017.
  68. ^ "Renegade Season 5 Episode 2: Self Defense". TV Guide. Retrieved September 28, 2017.
  69. ^ Metro, Jonny (January 20, 2015). "The Cult Credentials of Linda Blair". Wicked Horror. Retrieved September 28, 2017.
  1. ^ Year in which awards ceremony was held.

Works cited