Wednesday, November 30, 2005
In 1973, I saw a photograph of Linda Blair in TIME and instantly fell in love…in spite of the fact that the picture right next to it was of the nightmarishly possessed Regan Teresa MacNeil from the then new movie, THE EXORCIST. In fact, being under the age of seventeen, it was months before I could talk anyone into taking me to see the movie (which is odd when you consider I was buying HUSTLER regularly and not being carded) but I fawned over Linda on talk shows and in magazines. I even bought SEVENTEEN magazine for the first and only time! She was my age and her birthday was in January just like mine. She seemed to be intelligent and funny and she was certainly drop dead gorgeous…well, to me she was.
The other kids laughed at me saying she was pudgy and unattractive or nasty and evil because of that crucifix scene in her movie! Me, I was obsessed. I wrote mushy, gushy poems about her that were published in the school literary magazine. I wrote letters to her in care of William Morris (who I believe it turned out didn’t even represent her but I got the address somewhere.) and joined her "official" fan club from which I got a humongous black and white wall poster…and nothing else ( and yes, I still have it.).
When she lost the best supporting actress Oscar, I was so outraged! I vowed to stick by her as she proved herself a brilliant actress! Then all that stuff came out about how Mercedes McCambridge had actually done much of Linda’s performance. Her initial theatrical follow-ups proved disappointing. She was, for example, the little sick girl in AIRPORT 1975 that shares her scenes with singing nun, Helen Reddy. For awhile, it looked as though her niche might be on television as she starred in a series of controversial films as a troubled teen who’s sent to reform school, raped, becomes an alcoholic, gets kidnapped, etc.
In her personal life, the fan magazines started running pictures of her sneaking cigarettes or worse, this shot with two of the entertainment world’s most extreme personalities, off his rocker rocker Keith Moon and Linda Lovelace, the woman who popularized the term "deep throat" long before Bob Woodward co-opted it. The poor kid never stood a chance! Before long Linda was, although still underage, deeply involved with singer/actor Rick Springfield. Eventually, Springfield was replaced in her love life by notorious funk rocker, Rick James. Reports of drugs surfaced, then an arrest for cocaine (that she still claims was all a misunderstanding, I believe).
Linda’s film career became a joke. There were attempts at cleaning up her image with films like ROLLER BOOGIE, then attempts at dirtying it up with a partially nude spread in OUI magazine. EXORCIST II didn’t help as it was also a joke, despite a quickly re-edited re-release. Every role after that was either a parody of her horror film persona or worse, a more explicit version of her TV troubled teen roles. CHAINED HEAT offered Linda nude for the first time onscreen with gorgeous German blonde Sybil Danning lusting after short, chubby Linda in prison! Her onstage appearance in the lead of the play, WOMEN BEHIND BARS helped perpetuate this bad girl image. SAVAGE STREETS offered more exploitation fare with Linda nude again and also kickin’ ass and takin’ names as an unlikely action hero.
But then something happened. Except for the occasional film role, Linda retreated into the world of her beloved horses. She became involved deeply in animal rights and rescue and other causes and charities, using her still famous name to raise money.
Through it all, I stuck with Linda, following her through game shows and talk shows (even Alf’s!) and websites. Today, Linda Blair, even without having become a brilliant, award winning actress, is a respected member of the Hollywood community who seems to have a sense of humor and acceptance about her past, both personal and professional and to me…she’s STILL gorgeous and I’d help ghostwrite her autobiography anytime. Thanks, Linda!
Linda Blair WorldHeart Foundation