Linda Blair

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Photo Credit: Linda Blair: Credit: Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

From Possession To Philanthropy.
By Taylor Neumann, ReMIND Magazine

Linda Blair was born Jan. 22, 1959, in St. Louis. Blair began appearing in commercials at age 5. She continued to do commercials despite developing a love for horses and a desire to grow up and be a veterinarian. By the time she was 12, she had appeared on the soap opera Hidden Faces (1968-69) as well as the films The Way We Live Now (1970) and The Sporting Club (1971). Blair told her mother she was ready to retire from child acting to focus on her animal dreams; however, her mother told her she had a few jobs to finish before that could happen.

One of those jobs was the movie The Exorcist (1973), where Blair played possessed child Regan. The film was a huge success internationally, earning Blair a Golden Globe and an Academy Award nomination. Many people couldn’t separate the actress from the character, causing some to be terrified of her or ask inappropriate questions about death, Catholicism and God. Blair also received death threats.

Her next role was in the controversial TV movie Born Innocent (1974), where she played a sexually abused runaway teenager opposite Kim Hunter. Blair followed this up with another dramatic role in Sarah T. — Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic (1975), and starred in Sweet Hostage (1975) with Martin Sheen and Victory at Entebbe (1976) with Elizabeth Taylor and Anthony Hopkins.

Blair again took up the mantle of Regan in the Exorcist sequel Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977), which failed at the box office and, at the time, was the most expensive picture ever made by Warner Bros. Studios. It was also around this time that Blair, then 18, was arrested for drug possession. After making the film, Blair took a year off from acting to compete with her first love, horses, on the equestrian circuit.

But it was in 1979 when Blair’s career took another turn, this time into sex symbol territory. She starred in the musical drama Roller Boogie and followed that with a number of low-budget films including Hell Night (1981), Chained Heat (1983) and Savage Streets (1984).

In 1997, she again decided to try something new with her career, pivoting to Broadway to play Rizzo in a revival of Grease. She also hosted Scariest Places on Earth on FOX Family from 2000-06 and guest-starred on a 2006 episode of Supernatural.

Her personal life had just as much variety as her acting life: She dated singer Rick Springfield at age 15 and later had relationships with Deep Purple bassist Glenn Hughes, Styx guitarist Tommy Shaw, actor Wings Hauser and musician Rick James, who wrote his song “Cold Blooded” about her.

Today, Blair has returned to her animal-loving roots and is active in her own foundation, the Linda Blair Worldheart Foundation, which rescues abandoned and abused animals.

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