'The Exorcist,' 'The French Connection' director William Friedkin dead at 87

William Friedkin movies also include 'Sorcerer'

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Tuesday, August 8, 2023
'The Exorcist' director William Friedkin dead at 87
"The French Connection" and "The Exorcist" director William Friedkin has died at 87.

LOS ANGELES -- William Friedkin, the filmmaker behind 1973's adaptation of novelist William Peter Blatty's horror novel "The Exorcist," has died at age 87.

Stephen Galloway, dean of Dodge College of Film and Media Arts at Chapman University and also the biographer of Friedkin's producer wife, Sherry Lansing, confirmed Friedkin's death to ABC News, explaining that the filmmaker passed away in Los Angeles. No cause of death was provided.

"Friedkin was truly one of the great American originals - the films he made back in the 70s, 'French Connection,' 'The Exorcist,' 'Sorcerer,' they haven't dated in any way,' Galloway said. "He was an absolutely remarkable original mind - right to the end he was as sharp as a razor, and funny."

The Chicago-born Friedkin got his start in television and documentaries, logging his first film directing credit with the 1967 musical "Good Times," starring Sonny and Cher. Just four years later, his big-screen adaptation of Robin Moore's gritty cop novel "The French Connection" earned four Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director, and Best Actor for Gene Hackman.

Friedkin's next project, 1973's "The Exorcist," went on to earn ten Academy Award nominations. It stands as one of the highest-grossing films of all time, adjusted for inflation.

Friedkin's box office success faltered in the 1980s, though his 1985 film "To Live and Die in L.A.." starring William Peterson and Willem Dafoe, remains a cop genre classic.

Friedkin also worked with Samuel L. Jackson and Tommy Lee Jones in the military thriller "Rules of Engagement" in 2000, and with Matthew McConaughey in 2011's acclaimed "Killer Joe."

Friedkin was still working behind the camera with his final film, "The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial" starring Kiefer Sutherland, a remake of the 1954 Humphrey Bogart war drama "The Caine Mutiny," set to premiere at the Venice Film Festival in September.