Linda Blair

Linda Blair Headshot

Actress • Activist

Birth Date: January 22, 1959

Age: 65 years old

Birth Place: Saint Louis, Missouri

At the age of 13, actress Linda Blair found herself starring in one of the most influential films of all time and nominated for an Academy Award for her work in "The Exorcist" (1973), only to be typecast as a result of the role that made her a star. Not only did "The Exorcist" launch Blair's career, it also redefined the horror film genre and perpetuated a cultural fascination with demonic possession. It also made such an indelible impression on audiences that it became difficult for her to be accepted in roles other than those of the quintessential girl in danger. Early works in this vein bore critical fruit, such as "Born Innocent" (NBC, 1974) and "Sarah T. - Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic" (NBC, 1975). Then came the disastrous sequel "Exorcist II: The Heretic" (1977), followed by the ill-advised attempt at a course correction with "Roller Boogie" (1979). With subsequent, and increasingly exploitative efforts such as "Chained Heat" (1983) and "Savage Streets" (1984), it seemed Blair's cinematic destiny was sealed. A much publicized arrest on drug charges - later dropped - combined with erotic thrillers such as "Bedroom Eyes II" (1989) did not help matters. Still, a chance to perform on Broadway in a revival of "Grease," and animal rescue work with her own non-profit organization helped to balance out some of the earlier, regrettable film choices. A mixed blessing to be sure, Blair's participation in "The Exorcist" provided her with a fame that, while limited, allowed her to pursue other more personal interests and work steadily throughout a lengthy career.

Born Linda Denise Blair on Jan. 22, 1959 in St. Louis, MO, she was raised in the town of Westport, CT by her parents, James Blair, a job placement executive, and Elinore, a real estate agent. Pretty and precocious from a young age, Blair began modeling at the age of six, although her earliest ambition was to become a veterinarian. She made her television acting debut three years later on the exceptionally short-lived daytime soap opera "Hidden Faces" (NBC, 1968-69), prior to her first feature film appearance as the daughter of a man experiencing a mid-life crisis in the drama "The Way We Live Now" (1969). Blair picked up another small role in the misogynistic dark comedy "The Sporting Club" (1970) before landing her breakout role in a film that would not only forever mark her professional career, but the horror film genre as well. At the tender age of 13, Blair beat out nearly 600 aspiring child actors to play the role of Regan, a young girl possessed by a demon in the film adaptation of William Peter Blatty's "The Exorcist" (1973). Directed by William Friedkin, the film starred Ellen Burstyn as a mother driven to enlist the aid of two priests (Jason Miller and Max Von Sydow) after science and medicine fail to cure her daughter's inexplicable and terrifying condition. Audiences were shocked at scenes in which Blair's head spun completely around on her shoulders and she vomited in the faces of the stunned priests, to say nothing of masturbating with a crucifix. A massive success at the box office and nominated for 10 Academy Awards, "The Exorcist" went on to become a cultural phenomenon.

Among the Oscar nods for "The Exorcist" was one for Best Supporting Actress for its young star. Although she did not win, she would take home a Golden Globe in the same category, causing her future film career to look bright indeed. She returned to television for another risqué performance in the cautionary tale of juvenile delinquency, "Born Innocent" (NBC, 1974). A morality play with a decidedly exploitative tone, the movie was highly controversial due to an explicit scene in which Blair's 14-year-old character is raped with the handle of a toilet plunger. It was also the highest rated TV movie of the year. Almost as eyebrow-raising as her choice of roles where some of Blair's personal choices, including the dating of pop star Rick Springfield, a beau many years her senior who lived with Blair at her parents' home for a period in the mid-1970s. Back on the big screen, she was one of many frantic faces in the cast of the star-studded disaster movie "Airport 1975" (1974), before tackling the title role in "Sarah T. - Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic" (NBC, 1975), directed by Richard Donner and featuring Mark Hamill in a pre-Luke Skywalker role. While the projects, by and large, were favorably received - at least by the viewing public - it did seem that controversial "young girl in trouble" roles were becoming a trend for the actress who was becoming increasingly troubled off screen as well.

As if to prove the point, Blair followed by playing Martin Sheen's kidnapping victim in "Sweet Hostage" (ABC, 1975), and an Israeli girl held hostage with her father (Kirk Douglas) in the fact-based TV movie "Victory at Entebbe" (ABC, 1976). Drawn back by the lure of commerce and a larger role, she reprised the character of Regan MacNeil alongside respected British thespian Richard Burton in the inevitable sequel "Exorcist II: The Heretic" (1977). Directed by John Boorman - who had turned down an offer to direct the original - the film, which found Regan still pestered by demons four years later, was a massive disappointment, both critically and commercially. Despite any misgivings she may have had, Blair revisited familiar terrain as the victim of a cousin's witchcraft in director Wes Craven's early television effort "Stranger in Our House" (NBC, 1978). Even as her roles garnered less interest, Blair's personal life generated some unwanted press when she was arrested in Florida on charges of cocaine trafficking. Although felony charges were dropped, she pled guilty to lesser charges and was sentenced to probation. Combined with the rumors of her tenuous grip on her sanity after her work in "The Exorcist" and the recent downward trajectory of her career, the embarrassing incident only worsened Blair's already problematic public image.

As the 1970s came to an end, Blair's career slide shifted into overdrive with films like the roller skating bomb "Roller Boogie" (1979) and the subpar haunted house movie "Hell Night" (1981). Offered increasingly exploitative material, Blair agreed to star in the women-in-prison potboiler "Chained Heat" (1983), co-starring B-movie vixens Sybil Danning and Tamara Dobson. In later years, the actress would cite this as one of the more regrettable project choices of her career, although fans of that particular sexploitation genre would hail it as a veritable masterpiece of sleaze. Amidst spotty rumors of a romantic relationship with funk music wild man Rick James in the mid-1980s, Blair's work in low-budget movies and direct-to-video projects continued to produce less than stellar results. Prime examples included "Savage Streets" (1984), in which she starred as an L.A. girl-turned vigilante after the brutal rape of her mute younger sister, followed by the even more onerous "Savage Island" (1985) - an embarrassing mess cobbled together from two previously released Italian productions with new footage of Blair incongruously added throughout.

Deciding that if she was going to be relegated to lowbrow genre fare, she might as well get a piece of the action, Blair earned her first associate producer's credit on the horror feature "Grotesque" (1988). She took part in the moderately ambitious comedy "Up Your Alley" (1989), and later teamed for the first time with sexploitation director Chuck Vincent in "Bad Blood" (1989), an erotic melodrama featuring porn veterans Georgina Spelvin and Randy Spears, in addition to former teen idol Troy Donahue. She reteamed with Vincent for more T&A work in "Bedroom Eyes II" (1989), where she met B-movie regular Wings Hauser, who she later dated for several years. Blair had a bit of fun at her own expense when she spoofed her best-known role in "Repossessed" (1990), opposite funnyman Leslie Nielsen as a bumbling exorcist. Later, she appeared in and co-produced "Skins" (1994) along with then-boyfriend Hauser, who directed, co-wrote, and also produced the low-budget action yarn about neo-Nazi punks terrorizing a city neighborhood. She surfaced in a brief cameo as an obnoxious reporter in Craven's hit slasher satire "Scream" (1996) and made her Broadway debut the following year, replacing Lucy Lawless in the role of Rizzo for a 1997 revival of "Grease."
Over the years, Blair had picked up her fair share of television series guest work, including a recurring role on the pop music/girl power comedy series "S Club 7 in L.A." (ABC Family, 2000). And sticking with a subject she knew all too well, she hosted the supernatural reality series "Scariest Places on Earth" (ABC Family, 2000-06). Other roles included a turn as a police detective in a 2006 episode of the popular horror-adventure series "Supernatural" (The WB, 2005-06/The CW, 2006- ). Although she continued to work frequently in films and television, acting had long since taken a back seat to Blair's true passion - the rescue and care of abandoned animals throughout the Los Angeles area. It was in service of this mission that the actress created the Linda Blair WorldHeart Foundation.

Credits

Skin: A History of Nudity in the Movies

Actor
Show
2020

Landfill

Actor
Detective Karen Atwood
Movie
2020

Eli Roth's History of HorrorStream

Actor
Series
2018

Eli Roth's History of HorrorStream

Guest
Series
2018

2018 American Rescue Dog Show

Judge
Show
2018

Daily Blast Live

Guest
Show
2017

The Green Fairy

Actor
Mrs. Lanfrey
Movie
2016

Surge of Power: Revenge of the Sequel

Actor
Helen Harris
Movie
2016

The All-Star Dog Rescue Celebration

Guest
Show
2015

Rupaul's Drag Race: RuVealed

Guest
Show
2015

An Affair of the Heart

Actor
Movie
2012

Access Hollywood Live

Guest
Show
2010

RuPaul's Drag RaceStream

Guest
Series
2009

Imps

Actor
Jamie (Segment "Don't")
Movie
2009

All Is Normal

Actor
Barbara
Movie
2008

SupernaturalStream

Guest Star
Series
2005
93%

Hitters Anonymous

Actor
Brenda
Movie
2005

Monster Makers

Actor
Shelly Stoker
Movie
2003

Scariest Places on Earth

Host
Show
2000

Chicken Soup for the Soul

Self
Show
1999

Gang Boys

Actor
Maggie Joiner
Movie
1998

Psi Factor: Chronicles of the Paranormal

Guest Star
Show
1996

Prey of the Jaguar

Actor
Cody Johnson
Movie
1996

Sorceress

Actor
Amelia Reynolds
Movie
1995

Double Blast

Actor
claudia
Movie
1994

RenegadeStream

Guest Star
Teddy Ray Thompson
Series
1992

Calendar Girl, Cop, Killer? The Bambi Bembenek Story

Actor
Jane Mader
Movie
1992

Fatal Bond

Actor
Leonie Stevens
Movie
1992

Perry Mason: The Case of the Heartbroken Bride

Actor
Hannah Hawkes
Movie
1992

Une perle chez les clochards

Actor
Movie
1990

Repossessed

Actor
Nancy Aglet
Movie
1990

Dead Sleep

Actor
Maggie Healey
Movie
1990

Moving Target

Actor
Sally Tyler
Movie
1990

Los Estudiantes se Divierten II

Actor
Movie
1989

Bail Out

Actor
Annette "Nettie" Ridgeway
Movie
1989

Bad Blood

Actor
Evie Barnes
Movie
1989

Bedroom Eyes II

Actor
Sophie Stevens
Movie
1989

The Chilling

Actor
Mary Hampton
Movie
1989

Monsters

Actor
Lia
Show
1988

Les maîtres de la mort

Actor
Movie
1988

Witchery

Actor
Jane Brooks
Movie
1988

Bersaglio sull'autostrada

Actor
Sally Tyler
Movie
1988

Up Your Alley

Actor
Vickie Adderly
Movie
1988

Silent Assassins

Actor
Sara
Movie
1988

Grotesque

Actor
Lisa
Movie
1988

Married ... With ChildrenStream

Guest Star
Ida Mae Wanker
Series
1987

SFX Retaliator

Actor
Doris
Movie
1987

Nightforce

Actor
Carla
Movie
1987

MacGyverStream

Guest Star
Series
1985

Red Heat

Actor
Christine Carlson
Movie
1985

Savage Island

Actor
Daly
Movie
1985

Murder, She WroteStream

Guest Star
Jane Pascal
Series
1984

Savage Streets

Actor
Brenda
Movie
1984

Night Patrol

Actor
Officer Sue Perman
Movie
1984

Celebrity Daredevils

Self
Guest
Show
1983

Cadenas Calientes

Actor
Movie
1983

Chained Heat

Actor
Carol Henderson
Movie
1983
56%

Hell Night

Actor
Marti Gaines
Movie
1981

Ruckus

Actor
Jenny Bellows
Movie
1980

Roller Boogie

Actor
Terry Barkley
Movie
1979

Wild Horse Hank

Actor
Hank Bradford
Movie
1979

Fantasy Island

Guest Star
Series
1978

Stranger in Our House

Actor
Rachel Bryant
Movie
1978

Exorcist II: The HereticStream

Actor
Regan MacNeil
Movie
1977
11%

Victory at Entebbe

Actor
Chana Vilnofsky
Movie
1976

Sarah T.: Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic

Actor
Sarah Travis
Movie
1975

Sweet Hostage

Actor
Doris Mae Withers
Movie
1975

Airport 1975Stream

Actor
Janice Abbott
Movie
1974
30%

Born Innocent

Actor
Chris Parker
Movie
1974

The ExorcistStream

Actor
Regan Teresa MacNeil
Movie
1973
78%

Hidden Faces

Actor
Allyn Jaffe
Show
1968

What's My Line?Stream

Guest
Game Show
1950

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