‘The Exorcist’: The Real-Life Story Behind the 40-Year-Old Horror Classic
Linda Blair starred in the film dramatization, but the real-life story involved a boy (Warner Bros/Everett)
Really, though, it doesn't look a day over 20.
Director William Friedkin's classic horror film "The Exorcist" had its New York City premiere on June 19, 1973, staking its claim in the pop culture consciousness (with a sledgehammer) and changing the face of horror cinema forever. The story of a young girl, Regan (Linda Blair), possessed by a vulgar yet devilishly clever demon who makes for quite the wake-up call for a young priest (Jason Miller) wrestling with a crisis of faith became notorious for reports of audience members fainting from fright ... and for becoming an instantly quotable cult favorite thanks to Regan's rather colorful turns of phrase whilst under the influence of pure foul-mouthed evil.
So who dreamed up this crazy yarn, anyway? Incredibly enough, "The Exorcist" isn't just the product of someone's wild imagination; it's actually based on a real-life event, though how much of that event is "true" is entirely a matter of personal ... well, faith.
(Photo: Harper & Row)
Roland Doe was born circa 1936 into a German Lutheran Christian family, who lived in Cottage City, Maryland, during the 1940s. Roland was an only child and was particularly close with his Aunt Harriet, a spiritualist who introduced him to a Ouija board. When Harriet died in St. Louis when Roland was 13, it is assumed that the boy tried to contact her via the Ouija board.