William Friedkin death: Director of The Exorcist and the French Connection dies aged 87

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American director William Friedkin, best known for his films including “The Exorcist” and “The French Connection,” has passed away at the age of 87. His death was confirmed on August 7th by Chapman University Dean Stephen Galloway, a friend of Friedkin’s wife Sherry Lansing, according to Variety.

William Friedkin was born in Chicago, Illinois, on August 29, 1935. He began his film career in the 1960s with the comedy musical “Good Times” (1967), featuring Sonny and Cher. Several movies later, Friedkin won an Oscar for Best Director for his 1971 classic, “The French Connection.”

During the 1970s, Friedkin, along with fellow filmmakers Francis Ford Coppola and Hal Ashby, rose to fame in Hollywood for their risk-taking direction. In 1973, Friedkin released “The Exorcist,” which became a global box office phenomenon, earning $500 million worldwide. This, along with Coppola’s “The Godfather,” helped to ignite the blockbuster era in cinema.

“The Exorcist” also brought Friedkin his second Oscar nomination for Best Director. The film went on to spawn five sequels, each directed by someone new. Friedkin collaborated with William Peter Blatty on the third installment in 1990 but eventually left the project due to creative differences.

After marrying studio head Sherry Lansing in 1991, Friedkin continued to direct films consistently. However, he eventually shifted his focus towards television, directing series such as “Tales From the Crypt,” “The Twilight Zone,” “Space Quest,” and “CAT Squad.”

Friedkin’s most recent documentary horror film was 2017’s “The Devil and the Father.” IMDb states that before his death, he had completed production on the upcoming legal drama “The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial,” which is set to be released in 2023.

He is survived by his fourth wife Lansing, and his two sons, one from his second wife, British actor Lesley-Anne Down, and the other from his former fiancée, Australian dancer Jennifer Nairn-Smith. Friedkin was previously married to newscaster Kelly Lange from 1987 to 1990 and the late French actor Jeanne Moreau from 1977 to 1979.

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