Tuesday, 17 January 2017

William Peter Blatty R.I.P.

Screenwriter and novelist William Peter Blatty died on January 12 2017 at the age of 89. He worked on such screenplays as The Man from the Diners' Club (1963) and A Shot in the Dark (1964), as well as such novels as Twinkle, Twinkle, "Killer" Kane (1966) and The Exorcist (1971).

William Peter Blatty was born on January 7 1928 in New York City. He attended  Brooklyn Preparatory School on a scholarship. In 1950 he graduated from Georgetown University with bachelor's degree in English. Following his graduation from college, Mr. Blatty worked a variety of odd jobs, including a door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman, a beer truck driver, and a United Airlines ticket agent. He served for a time in the United States Air Force.He earned a master's degree in  English literature from George Washington University in Washington D.C. He worked for the United States Information Agency as an editor based in Beirut, Lebanon.


William Peter Blatty's first novel, Which Way to Mecca, Jack?, was published in 1959. It was followed by the novel John Goldfarb, Please Come Home! in 1963. That same year saw his first credit as a screenwriter, for the movie The Man from the Diners' Club. In the Sixties he co-wrote the screenplays for A Shot in the Dark (1964), What Did You Do in the War, Daddy? (1966), Gunn (1967), The Great Bank Robbery (1969), and Darling Lili (1970). He wrote the screenplay for Promise Her Anything (1966). Mr. Blatty wrote an episode of Insight. He published the novels I, Billy Shakespeare (1965) and Twinkle, Twinkle, "Killer" Kane (1966).

In the Seventies he did uncredited work on the film The Omega Man. His novel The Exorcist was published in 1971 and adapted as the film The Exorcist (1973). His novel Twinkle, Twinkle, "Killer" Kane was adapted as the film The Ninth Configuration (1980). He wrote another episode of Insight.

His novel Legion was published in 1983. His novel Demons Five, Exorcists Nothing: A Fable was published in 1996. In the Naughts he published the novels Elsewhere (2009), Dimiter (2010), and Crazy (2010).

While many places are remembering William Peter Blatty as the author of The Exorcist, I think his career as a screenwriter should not be forgotten. In the Sixties he collaborated with director Blake Edwards on the screenplays of several classic films, including A Shot in the Dark, What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?, and Gunn. Alone he wrote the screenplay for The Man from the Diners' Club. While Mr. Blatty saw a good deal of success with The Exorcist (in the United States alone it sold 13 million copies), he had quite a bit of success as a screenwriter as well.

Of course, he did see success as a writer. Even before The Exorcist he had seen some success with John Goldfarb, Please Come Home! and Twinkle, Twinkle, "Killer" Kane. While he will probably always be remembered as the author of The Exorcist, William Peter Blatty did much more.

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