William Friedkin, Director of ‘French Connection’ and ‘Exorcist,’ Dies at 87
William Friedkin, a filmmaker whose gritty, visceral style and fascination with characters on the edge helped make “The French Connection” and “The Exorcist” two of the biggest box-office hits of the 1970s, died on Monday. He was 87.
The cause was heart failure and pneumonia, said his wife, Sherry Lansing, the former head of Paramount Pictures in Hollywood
His death came just weeks before the release of his most recent directorial effort, “The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial,” a movie based on the Herman Wouk play
Mr. Friedkin was a promising but not well-known director with a background in documentary film when he teamed up with the producer Philip D’Antoni to make “The French Connection”
Mr. Friedkin and Mr. D’Antoni relied on a cast of relative unknowns. Roy Scheider, an Off Broadway actor, took the role of Mr. Grosso, called Buddy Russo in the film
Mr. Friedkin followed up a year later with “The Exorcist,” based on William Peter Blatty’s best-selling horror novel about the demonic possession of a 12-year-old girl