The Exorcist: Ellen Burstyn stars in trailer for 1973 horror film
Linda Blair both enthralled and horrified audiences around the world at the age of just 14 playing Regan McNeill in the 1973 horror hit The Exorcist.
Despite being legally a child, the actress tackled some very tough scenes and was awarded for her efforts with a Golden Globe award and an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.
It was a role that would define her life, and while she doesn’t return for the latest movie in the franchise, Exorcist: Believer, which is out today, her presence looms large as the actress who played her mother in the original, Ellen Burstyn, is back.
Off-screen, Linda’s life had all the makings of a drama of its own. After finding fame at such a young age she embraced the celebrity lifestyle.
At the age of just 15, she dated Australian singer Rick Springfield, who at the time was 25 years old. They met backstage before his concert at the legendary Whisky a Go Go. However, by the spring of 1975 they had broken up.
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In an interview in 2022 she admitted that they are still very close all these years later.
“That was a very special relationship and mom treated him as a son,” she said. “His mom was in Australia and it was a really beautiful young love like Romeo and Juliet.
“We hold it very sacred. And it also shows people the kindness. We parted the best we could even at a young age…We’re still emotionally bonded and Barbara, his wife, she understands,” she said.
She also enjoyed a relationship with Superfreak singer Rick James and in Glow: The Autobiography of Rick James, he wrote: “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.”
Outside of romantic liaisons, at the age of 18 on December 20 1977 she was arrested for drug possession and conspiracy to sell drugs and the case was reported in the New York Times the next day.
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.
She has also experienced her own encounters with the supernatural in real life. In 2012 she appeared on Celebrity Ghost stories and told of a terrifying encounter when she was a child.
She explained how she and her sister came upon a dilapidated house as children and decided to explore it with friends even though she couldn’t recall ever seeing it in the woods before.
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She remembered that they went in and she said there was a “heaviness” in the air and it “felt sad”.
Recalling getting trapped when a door slammed, she said that she saw the figure of a man with blood running down his face with a woman and a little girl beside him who was dragging a doll.
She recalled feeling “terrified” that they were going to get her and years later reading about a family murdered in the house in the 1920s which was the same family she saw.
These days Linda is heavily committed to her animal welfare charity. In 2004, she founded the Linda Blair Worldheart Foundation, a nonprofit organization that serves to rehabilitate and adopt rescue animals.
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