Linda Blair

Linda Denise Blair (born January 22, 1959)[2] is an American actress. Blair played the possessed child, Regan, in the film The Exorcist (1973), for which she was nominated for an Academy Award and won a Golden Globe. She reprised her role in Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977), for which she was nominated for a Saturn Award.

Linda Blair
Blair at the 2014 Phoenix Comicon
Linda Denise Blair

(1959-01-22) January 22, 1959[1]
ResidenceCoto de Caza, California, U.S.
  • Actress
  • producer
  • activist
Years active1962–present
Home townWestport, Connecticut, U.S.

Blair would go on to star in numerous controversial dramatic television films, such as Born Innocent (1974) and Sarah T. – Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic (1975) before establishing herself as a sex symbol in the musical Roller Boogie in 1979. The 1980s saw Blair starring in numerous exploitation and horror films, such as the slasher film Hell Night (1981), the prison drama Chained Heat (1983), and the Grindhouse cult thriller Savage Streets (1984).

Throughout the 1990s, Blair appeared in various independent films and B movies, as well as several television credits: From 2001 to 2003, she was the host of the Fox Family reality series Scariest Places on Earth, and in 2006 had a guest role on the series Supernatural. She also appeared as herself on the Animal Planet series Pit Boss from 2010 to 2012.

In addition to her acting credits, Blair has publicly supported various charitable causes, specifically animal rights. In 2004, she founded the Linda Blair WorldHeart Foundation, which serves to rehabilitate and adopt rescue animals.

Early life

The youngest of three children, Blair was born January 22, 1959 in St. Louis, Missouri,[3] to James Frederick and Elinore (née Leitch) Blair.[4] She has an older sister, Debbie, and an older brother, Jim.[5] 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.[5][6] Her mother worked as a real estate agent in Westport.[7]

She formally began her career as a child model at age five,[8] appearing in Sears, J.C. Penney, and Macy's catalogues, and in over 70 commercials for Welch's grape jams and various other companies.[5][6] Blair secured a contract at age six for a series of print ads in The New York Times.[3] From the age of six onward, Blair began riding horses, becoming a trained equestrian.[9]


Early roles and The Exorcist

Blair started acting with a regular role on the short-lived Hidden Faces (1968–69) daytime soap opera.[8] 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).[9]

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 and People's Choice Award for Best Supporting Actress as well as an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.[8] Film critic and historian Mark Clark notes that in her performance, "Blair matches [adult co-star] Ellen Burstyn note-for-note."[10] 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.[8] 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,[3] and she would later receive anonymous death threats.[3] 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."[3]

After the Exorcist press tour concluded, Blair starred opposite Kim Hunter in the wildly controversial television film Born Innocent (1974),[11] in which she plays a runaway teenager who is sexually abused.[12] 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."[13] 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.[14] A steady series of job offers led Blair to relocate to Los Angeles in 1975, where she lived with her older sister, Debbie.[3] Between 1975 and 1978, she would have lead roles in numerous television films: Sarah T. – Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic (1975), as a teenager who becomes addicted to alcohol;[12] Sweet Hostage (1975) opposite Martin Sheen, in which she plays a kidnapping victim;[12] and Victory at Entebbe (1976), a war drama starring Anthony Hopkins and Elizabeth Taylor.[15]

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.[16] After filming Exorcist II: The Heretic, Blair took a year off from acting and competed in national equestrian circuits under the pseudonym Martha McDonald.[5] In 1978, she made a return to acting in the Wes Craven-directed television horror film Stranger in Our House (re-titled Summer of Fear), based on the novel by Lois Duncan.[17] and also with the lead role in the Canadian production Wild Horse Hank, in which she utilized her equestrian skills to play a college student saving wild horses from ranchers.[18]

Exploitation films

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.[19] 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.[20] She also starred in a number of successful low-budget horror and exploitation films throughout much of the 1980s: She starred opposite Peter Barton 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,[21] and the exploitation thriller Savage Streets (1984), in which she plays the lead of a female vigilante street gang who targets male rapists.[19] 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."[22] Also in 1983, Blair posed nude in an issue of Playboy.[6]

In 1985, Blair starred again in another women-in-prison feature titled Red Heat, playing a prisoner of war in West Germany.[23] 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.[24] This 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 Razzie Awards for Worst Actress.[25]

In the late 1980s, she worked in numerous low-budget horror films, including Grotesque (1988), opposite Tab Hunter,[26] and the Italian production Witchery (1988), opposite David Hasselhoff.[17] The following year, she starred in the romantic comedy Up Your Alley opposite Murray Langston,[27] and the Exorcist spoof Repossessed in 1990.[17] She would also appear in several Australian b-movies in the early 1990s, including Fatal Bond and Dead Sleep (both 1992).[28]

Retrospectives and later work

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[29]

In 1997, Blair reunited with director Wes Craven for a cameo role in Scream (1996),[17] and also starred in a Broadway revival of Grease, playing Rizzo.[17] The same year, 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] She also 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] Most of Kermode's linking scenes to camera were removed from the DVD version to shorten the running time. The version shown on BBC TV in 1998 was shown intact. The following year Blair appeared in an online parody of The Blair Witch Project titled The Blair Bitch Project.[32]

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]

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.[29] 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. She would 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,[34] and was a panelist in a 2011 episode of The Joy Behar Show. In late 2011, Blair appeared at the pre-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.[35]

In 2013, Blair accepted a role in the comedy webseries Whoa! and has since appeared in the 2016 feature The Green Fairy, as well as the upcoming films Surge of Power: Revenge of the Sequel (2016) and Landfill (2018).


Blair has been an avid animal lover since her childhood.[6] As an adult, she became an animal rights activist and humanitarian, working with PETA, Feed the Children, Variety, the Children's Charity, and other organizations,[2] as well as advocating for teen HIV/AIDS awareness.[9] Blair also devotes time to a non-profit organization she established in 2004, the Linda Blair WorldHeart Foundation, which works to rescue abused, neglected and mistreated animals.[36] She also follows a vegan diet, and was a co-author of the book Going Vegan! (2001).[37]

In 2005 in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Blair traveled to Mississippi and saved 51 abandoned dogs.[29]

Personal life

At age fifteen, Blair dated Australian singer Rick Springfield, whom she met during a concert at the Whisky a Go Go.[3][5] She also dated Deep Purple bassist Glenn Hughes.[5] 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.[7]

In a 1982 interview accompanying a topless pictorial in Oui magazine, 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.[38] 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 hope would last. It didn't." James revealed that he found Blair had been pregnant by him and had an abortion without his knowledge.[39]

On December 20, 1977, Blair, then just eighteen years old, encountered trouble with federal law enforcement authorities as she was arrested with drug possession and conspiracy to sell drugs.[40] She pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of conspiracy to possess cocaine, in exchange for three years' probation. Blair was also required to make at least 12 major public appearances to tell young people about the dangers of drug abuse.[41]

Blair was a vegetarian for thirteen years before becoming a vegan in 2001.[6] In 2014, she revealed that she was treated for an umbilical hernia.[42] As of 2015, Blair resides in Coto de Caza, California.[43]



Year Title Role Notes Ref.
1970The Way We Live NowSara Aldridge[8]
1971The Sporting ClubBarby[9]
1973The ExorcistRegan MacNeilGolden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
Nominated—Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year – Actress
1974Born InnocentChris ParkerTelevision film[45]
Airport 1975Janice Abbott[14]
1975Sarah T. – Portrait of a Teenage AlcoholicSarah TravisTelevision film[45]
Sweet HostageDoris Mae WithersTelevision film[12]
1976Victory at EntebbeChana VilnofskyTelevision film[15]
1977Exorcist II: The HereticRegan MacNeilNominated—Saturn Award for Best Actress[16]
1978Stranger in Our HouseRachel BryantTelevision film; also known as: Summer of Fear[17]
1979Wild Horse HankHank Bradford[18]
Roller BoogieTerry Barkley[19]
1980RuckusJenny Bellows[20]
1981Hell NightMarti GainesNominated—Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress[46]
1983Chained HeatCarol HendersonNominated—Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress[47]
1984Night PatrolOfficer Sue PermanGolden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress[19]
Savage StreetsBrendaGolden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress[48]
Terror in the AislesRegan MacNeilArchive footage[49]
1985Red HeatChristine Carlson[23]
Savage IslandDalyGolden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress[50]
1987SFX RetaliatorDorisAlso known as: The Heroin Deal[49]
1988Moving TargetSally Tyler[49]
Silent AssassinsSara[49]
WitcheryJane Brooks[52]
1989Up Your AlleyVickie Adderly[27]
The ChillingMary HamptonAlso known as: Gamma 693[49]
Aunt Millie's WillUnknownShort film[49]
W.B., Blue and the BeanAnnette RidgewayAlso known as: Bailout[49]
1990Zapped Again!Miss Mitchell[53]
RepossessedNancy Aglet[54]
Dead SleepMaggie Healey[28]
1991Bedroom Eyes IISophie Stevens[55]
Fatal BondLeonie Stevens[56]
1992Calendar Girl, Cop, Killer?: The Bambi Bembenek StoryJane MderTelevision film[49]
Perry Mason: The Case of the Heartbroken BrideHannah HawkesTelevision film[49]
1993Bad BloodEvie Barners[57]
PhoneUnknownShort film[49]
1994SkinsMaggie Joiner[49]
Double BlastClaudiaTelevision film[49]
1995SorceressAmelia Reynolds[58]
1996Prey of the JaguarCody Johnson[59]
ScreamObnoxious ReporterUncredited[17]
1997MarinaMarinaShort film[49]
2003Monster MakersShelly StokerTelevision film[49]
2005Diva Dog: Pit Bull on WheelsUnknownShort film[49]
Hitters AnonymousBrenda[49]
2006All Is NormalBarbara[49]
The Powder Puff PrincipleSchool Board PresidentShort film[60]
2009IMPS*JamieFilmed in 1983[61]
2012An Affair of the HeartHerselfDocumentary[34]
2016Surge of Power: Revenge of the Sequel Helen Harris[62]


Year Title Role Notes Ref.
1968–1969Hidden FacesAllyn JaffeUnknown episodes[63]
1982Fantasy IslandSarah Jean RollingsEpisode:"King Arthur in Mr. Rourke's Court"[64]
1982The Love BoatMuffyEpisode: "Isaac Gets Physical"[65]
1985Murder, She WroteJane PascalEpisode: "Murder Takes the Bus"[65]
1989MonstersLa StregaEpisode: "La Strega"[65]
1990MacGyverJenny LarsonEpisode: "Jenny's Chance"[65]
1992Married... with ChildrenIda MaeEpisode: "The Magnificent Seven"[65]
1996RenegadeTeddy Rae ThompsonEpisode: "Self Defense"[66]
1997The RuPaul ShowHerself1 episode
1998Psi Factor: Chronicles of the ParanormalRebecca RoyceEpisode: "All Hallow's Eve"[65]
1999Godzilla: The SeriesAlexandra SpringerEpisode: "S.C.A.L.E."[67]
2000L.A. 7Joni Witherspoon9 episodes[65]
2000–2003Hollywood SquaresHerself10 episodes[65]
2001–2006Scariest Places on EarthHost41 episodes[65]
2006SupernaturalDetective Diana BallardEpisode: "The Usual Suspects"[65]
2010–2012Pit BossHerself12 episodes[65]
2012Celebrity Ghost StoriesHerself1 episode[65]
2014RuPaul's Drag RaceHerselfEpisode: "Scream Queens"[65]
2018Eli Roth's History of HorrorHerself
2019E! True Hollywood StoryHerselfEpisode: "Horror Movies: Cursed or Coincidence?"

Awards and nominations

YearAssociationCategoryNominated workResult
1973Academy AwardsBest Supporting ActressThe ExorcistNominated
1974Golden Globe AwardsBest Supporting Actress – Motion PictureThe ExorcistWon
1974Golden Globe AwardsNew Star of the Year – ActressThe ExorcistNominated
1978Saturn AwardsBest ActressExorcist II: The HereticNominated
1982Golden Raspberry AwardsWorst ActressHell NightNominated
1984Golden Raspberry AwardsWorst ActressChained HeatNominated
1985Golden Raspberry AwardsScream QueenHerselfWon
1986Golden Raspberry AwardsWorst ActressNight Patrol, Savage Island, and Savage StreetsWon

See also


  1. Skin (January 1, 2005). Mr. Skin's Skincyclopedia: The A-to-Z Guide to Finding Your Favorite Actresses Naked. St. Martin's Press. p. 67. ISBN 978-0-312-33144-3.
  2. Official website for "The Exorcist". Warner Brothers, "Cast, Linda Blair". Accessed March 18, 2010.
  3. "Linda Blair". Biography. October 28, 2003. A&E Network.
  4. "The Exorcist". American Film Institute. Retrieved September 26, 2017.
  5. Leach, Robin (July 11, 1977). "The Devil Can't Make Her". People. 8 (2).
  6. Quinn, Karl (December 21, 2013). "Lunch with... Linda Blair". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved September 28, 2017.
  7. Kaufman, Joanne. "Wings of Desire". People. 40 (22). Retrieved September 22, 2017.
  8. Lee 2017, p. 122.
  9. Lea, Tony Clayton (January 6, 2001). "Linda Blair". The Irish Times. Retrieved September 28, 2017.
  10. Clark, Mark (2011). Smirk, Sneer and Scream: Great Acting in Horror Cinema. McFarland. p. 237. ISBN 978-0-786-42682-9.
  11. Levine 2007, pp. 71–4.
  12. Lee 2017, p. 125.
  13. Levine 2007, p. 90.
  14. 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.
  15. Lee 2017, p. 126.
  16. Lee 2017, p. 127.
  17. Lee 2017, p. 129.
  18. 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.
  19. Lee 2017, p. 128.
  20. Weldon 1996, p. 475.
  21. Walters 2010, p. 113.
  22. "Savage Streets Review". TV Guide. Retrieved September 22, 2017.
  23. Walters 2010, p. 114.
  24. Martin, Mick; Porter, Marsha (1997). Video Movie Guide 1998 (Revised ed.). Ballantine Books. p. 762. ISBN 978-0-345-40793-1.
  25. 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.
  26. Young 2000, p. 262.
  27. 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.
  28. Young 2000, p. 144.
  29. Sacks, Ethan (November 9, 2006). "Possession is 9/10ths of Linda Blair's Career". New York Daily News. Retrieved September 20, 2017.
  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. Webster, Andy (October 9, 2012). "For the Fans of an Idol, It's 1982". The New York Times. Retrieved September 28, 2017.
  35. Kilday, Gregg (October 31, 2011). "The Academy Throws a Mini-Film Festival Tied to the Governors' Awards". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 26, 2017.
  36. "Linda Blair-WorldHeart Foundation". GuideStar. Retrieved September 26, 2017.
  37. Blair, Linda (2001). Going Vegan!. Sunny Harris & Associates. ISBN 978-0-971-33570-7.
  38. "Despite a Frightening Collapse, Funkstar Rick James Won't Let Anyone Rein Him in – Vol. 18 No. 21". November 22, 1982. Retrieved November 4, 2017.
  39. "The 12 Most Rick James–y Moments in Rick James's New Memoir, Glow". Vulture. July 11, 2014. Retrieved December 13, 2017.
  40. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  41. "Actress Linda Blair Gets Probation in Drug Case". Lakeland Ledger. September 6, 1979.
  42. "Linda Blair's Health Scare". The Doctors. April 15, 2014. Retrieved September 28, 2017.
  43. "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.
  44. Young 2000, p. 199.
  45. Levine 2007, p. 91.
  46. Young 2000, p. 274.
  47. Young 2000, p. 92.
  48. Weldon 1996, p. 484.
  49. "Linda Blair Biography (1959–)". Film Reference. Retrieved September 28, 2017.
  50. Young 2000, p. 541.
  51. Weldon 1996, p. 395.
  52. Weldon 1996, p. 624.
  53. Young 2000, p. 709.
  54. Young 2000, p. 518.
  55. Weldon 1996, p. 44.
  56. Weldon 1996, p. 200.
  57. Weldon 1996, p. 35.
  58. Weldon 1996, p. 520.
  59. Young 2000, p. 497.
  60. "The Powder Puff Principle (2006)". British Film Institute. Retrieved September 28, 2017.
  61. Latchem, John (February 6, 2009). "IMPS: Immoral Minority Picture Show". Home Media Magazine. Retrieved September 22, 2017.
  62. Roth, Vincent J. (June 12, 2017). "Cinema's First Out Gay Superhero @ Florida Supercon July 29th" (PDF). Surge of Power. Retrieved September 28, 2017.
  63. 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.
  64. Topel, Fred (February 15, 2013). "Ahead of My Time: Linda Blair Revisits The Exorcist Movies". Crave. Retrieved September 28, 2017.
  65. "Linda Blair Credits". TV Guide. CBS Interactive. Retrieved September 28, 2017.
  66. "Renegade Season 5 Episode 2: Self Defense". TV Guide. Retrieved September 28, 2017.
  67. Metro, Jonny (January 20, 2015). "The Cult Credentials of Linda Blair". Wicked Horror. Retrieved September 28, 2017.

Works cited

  • Lee, Jason (2017). "The Devil You Don't Know?: The rise and fall and rise of Linda Blair". In O'Connor, Jane; Mercer, John (eds.). Childhood and Celebrity. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 978-1-317-51895-2.
  • Walters, Suzanna Danuta (2010). "The (R)evolution of Women-In-Prison Films". In McCaughey, Martha; King, Neal (eds.). Reel Knockouts: Violent Women in Film. University of Texas Press. pp. 104–123. ISBN 978-0-292-77837-5.
  • Levine, Elana (2007). Wallowing in Sex: The New Sexual Culture of 1970s American Television. Duke University Press. ISBN 978-0-822-33919-9.
  • Weldon, Michael (1996). The Psychotronic Video Guide To Film. Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-312-13149-4.
  • Young, R.G. (ed.) (2000). The Encyclopedia of Fantastic Film: Ali Baba to Zombies. Hal Leonard Corporation. ISBN 978-1-557-83269-6.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
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