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Linda Blair Remembers 'The Exorcist,' Maria Shriver & Tom Hanks' Wife Rita Wilson: Governors Awards

Linda Blair Paying tribute The Exorcist make-up artist Dick SmithLinda Blair: Paying tribute to 'The Exorcist' make-up artist and Honorary Oscar recipient Dick Smith.

Linda Blair honors 'The Exorcist' make-up artist Dick Smith: Academy's Governors Awards

The Exorcist actress Linda Blair is pictured above while arriving at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' 2011 Governors Awards, held in the Grand Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland in Hollywood, on Saturday, Nov. 12.

James Earl Jones (Field of Dreams, The Hunt for Red October) was a long-distance Honorary Oscar honoree, as he's co-starring with Vanessa Redgrave in Driving Miss Daisy on the London stage. Oprah Winfrey, a 1985 Best Supporting Actress nominee for Steven Spielberg's The Color Purple, attended the ceremony where she was handed the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.

Also present was veteran make-up artist Dick Smith (Starman, The Cardinal), who will be turning 90 on June 26, '12. His segment was introduced by Linda Blair herself, who, back in early 1974, was nominated for the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award partly thanks to Smith's work, which transformed her from a cherub-faced, all-American young thing into a gargoyle-faced, all-demonic ancient one. (True, Mercedes McCambridge's voice also did wonders for Blair's performance in William Friedkin's horror thriller, but that's another story.)

Linda Blair movies

Although a phenomenal worldwide hit, The Exorcist didn't turn Linda Blair into a major box office draw. In fact, Blair, then in her mid-teens, would find more challenging roles on television. (See further below.)

Not helping matters, a sequel to The Exorcist, John Boorman's Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977), was a dismal critical and commercial bomb despite its prestige director and cast – multiple Oscar nominee Richard Burton (My Cousin Rachel, 1952; Becket, 1964; etc.), Best Actress Oscar winner Louise Fletcher (One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, 1975).

Worse yet, in 1977 Florida police arrested Blair – then 18 – and about 30 other people (including two children of Democratic Florida senator Dan Scarborough) in an attempt to break an alleged drug ring. Blair was charged with drug possession and conspiracy to either buy or sell drugs. Eventually pleading guilty to the charge of conspiracy to possess cocaine, she received three years' probation and a $5,000 fine.

According to (unverified) online sources, she would later say that following the scandal, her Hollywood career “went down faster than the Titanic.” Whether or not the quote is factual, that's pretty much what happened.

Among Linda Blair's post-The Exorcist screen credits, mostly low-budget “genre” a.k.a. “exploitation” movies, are the following:

  • Airport 1975 (1974).
    Dir.: Jack Smight.
    Cast: Charlton Heston. Karen Black. George Kennedy. Efrem Zimbalist Jr. Susan Clark. Helen Reddy. Linda Blair. Dana Andrews. Roy Thinnes. Sid Caesar. Myrna Loy. Ed Nelson. Nancy Olson. Larry Storch. Martha Scott. Jerry Stiller. Norman Fell. Conrad Janis. Beverly Garland. Linda Harrison (as Augusta Summerland). Guy Stockwell. Erik Estrada. Kip Niven.
  • Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977).
    Dir.: John Boorman.
    Cast: Linda Blair. Richard Burton. Louise Fletcher. Max von Sydow. Kitty Winn. Paul Henreid. James Earl Jones. Ned Beatty.
  • Roller Boogie (1979).
    Dir.: Mark L. Lester.
    Cast: Linda Blair. Jim Bray. Beverly Garland. Roger Perry. James Van Patten. Mark Goddard.
  • Hell Night (1981).
    Dir.: Tom DeSimone.
    Cast: Linda Blair. Vincent Van Patten. Peter Barton. Kevin Brophy. Suki Goodwin.
  • Chained Heat (1983).
    Dir.: Paul Nicholas.
    Cast: Linda Blair. John Vernon. Sybil Danning. Tamara Dobson. Stella Stevens. Henry Silva.
  • Red Heat (1985).
    Dir.: Robert Collector.
    Cast: Linda Blair. Sylvia Kristel. Sue Kiel. William Ostrander. Elisabeth Volkmann. Albert Fortell. Herb Andress.
  • Moving Target / Bersaglio sull'autostrada (1988).
    Dir.: Marius Mattei.
    Cast: Ernest Borgnine. Linda Blair. Stuart Whitman. Gabriella Giorgelli.

Linda Blair on television: Controversial TV movies

On television, Linda Blair's most important roles were those in three controversial TV movies of the 1970s:

  • Born Innocent (1974), which featured a brutal rape scene.
    Dir.: Donald Wrye.
    Cast: Linda Blair. Joanna Miles. Allyn Ann McLerie. Mary Murphy. Tina Andrews. Mitch Vogel. Janit Baldwin. Richard Jaeckel. Kim Hunter.
  • Sweet Hostage (1975), about a teenage farmgirl who has an affair with her older, mentally ill kidnapper.
    Dir.: Lee Philips.
    Cast: Linda Blair. Martin Sheen. Jeanne Cooper. Lee de Broux. Bert Remsen.
  • Sarah T. - Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic (1975), in which she played the title character.
    Dir.: Richard Donner.
    Cast: Linda Blair. Larry Hagman. Verna Bloom. Michael Lerner. Mark Hamill. Eric Olson. M. Emmet Walsh.

Linda Blair photo: Matt Petit / © A.M.P.A.S.

Tom Hanks' wife and actress Rita Wilson Oprah Winfrey Arnold Schwarzenegger estranged wife Maria ShriverTom Hanks' wife and actress Rita Wilson, Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award recipient and talk-show host Oprah Winfrey, journalist/author and estranged Arnold Schwarzenegger wife Maria Shriver.

Rita Wilson, Maria Shriver and Oprah Winfrey: Governors Awards

Actress Rita Wilson (Tom Hanks' wife), Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award recipient Oprah Winfrey, and journalist/author Maria Shriver – in the news a while back following her sensational split from actor and California's former Republican governor Arnold Schwarzenegger – are seen above at the Academy's 2011 Governors Awards.

Rita Wilson movies

The Los Angeles-born Rita Wilson (Oct. 26, 1956) has been featured in about 20 films. Notable titles include:

  • Sleepless in Seattle (1993).
    Dir.: Nora Ephron.
    Cast: Tom Hanks. Meg Ryan. Rosie O'Donnell. Bill Pullman. Rita Wilson. Victor Garber.
  • Psycho (1998).
    Dir.: Gus Van Sant.
    Cast: Vince Vaughn. Anne Heche. Julianne Moore. Viggo Mortensen. William H. Macy. Robert Forster. Philip Baker Hall. Chad Everett. Rita Wilson. James Remar. James Le Gros.
  • It's Complicated (2009).
    Dir.: Nancy Meyers.
    Cast: Meryl Streep. Steve Martin. Alec Baldwin. John Krasinski. Lake Bell. Rita Wilson. Mary Kay Place. Alexandra Wentworth. Hunter Parish. Caitlin FitzGerald. Zoe Kazan.

Rita Wilson, Oprah Winfrey, Maria Shriver photo: Richard Harbaugh / © A.M.P.A.S.


Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (A.M.P.A.S.) website.

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