William Peter Blatty
- Category : Writer
- Type : GP
- Profile : 1/3 - Investigating / Martyr
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Penetration 4
American novelist, screenwriter and producer-director, best known as author of "The Exorcist," 1971, which was made into a film in 1973 and earned an Oscar for the best adapted screenplay.
The fifth and youngest child of Catholic Lebanese immigrants, William Peter Blatty was six years old when his parents separated. He was raised by his mother, who peddled homemade quince jelly and intimidated landlords and collection agents. In the mid-1930s, the Blattys moved to Brooklyn, where William attended Brooklyn Prep, a Jesuit school for wealthy boys, on scholarship. He started writing short stories and essays and submitted some of his efforts for publication.
After graduating from high school, he received a scholarship to study at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. During his junior year there, he read an account of an alleged exorcism of a 14-year-old boy by a Jesuit priest. The story struck him and he chose demonic possession as his topic for a senior oratorical contest. He received his B.A. degree in 1950. He couldn’t find a teaching position in Washington, so he worked at odd jobs before enlisting in the Air Force in 1951. He then went on to earn an M.A. degree in English literature at George Washington University, in 1954. He later earned his doctoral degree.
From 1955 to 1957, Blatty worked for the U.S. Information Agency, stationed in Beirut, Lebanon, editing a publication called "News Review." He supplemented his income by contributing humorous articles to the "Saturday Evening Post" and by collaborating on a book writing effort. He wrote "Which way to Mecca, Jack?" in 1960.
Blatty directed publicity for the University of Southern California in 1957-1958 and public relations for Loyola University in Los Angeles in 1959-1960. He proved to be an amusing conversationalist, and often appeared on Jack Paar’s "Tonight" show in the early 1960s. A motion picture producer was impressed with him, and asked him to write a film script for "The Man from the Diner’s Club," 1963.
He continued to amass film credits with "A Shot in the Dark," 1966, "What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?", 1966, "Gunn," 1967 and "Darling Lili," 1970. His third book, "John Goldfarb, Please Come Home," 1963, became the center of a controversy with Notre Dame University, which was a major factor in the plot about a mythical oil sheik seeking a revengeful victory over the college’s football team. A projected film version so infuriated Notre Dame’s trustees that they sought an injunction banning both the book and the film, which the New York State Supreme Court upheld. The decision, however, was reversed in February 1965.
Two commercial flops followed the "John Goldfarb" book, and that, coupled with his mother’s sudden death in 1967, left Blatty artistically and personally distraught. He rented a cabin near Lake Tahoe and completed the draft of "The Exorcist." It was published in 1971, and remained on the "New York Times" best-seller list for 55 weeks, selling more than nine million copies. After selling the film rights, he acted as both scriptwriter and producer, and when the film was released on 12/26/1973, it attracted record-breaking crowds and grossed about $2 million a month during its initial run.
In recent years, Blatty has also added directing to his credits. The first movie he directed was "The Ninth Configuration," 1980, that did not do that well at the box office. He later directed George C. Scott in a sequel, "The Exorcist 1990," which he also wrote and directed. His recent novels include "Legion," 1990, and "Demons Five, Exorcists Nothing," 1996.
Blatty has seven children from four marriages.