Where Is Linda Blair From ‘The Exorcist’ Now?

There are some truly remarkable performances by child stars that stand out in cinematic history. Some of these shockingly talented breakthrough performances preface a predictable and almost methodical rise to adulthood as an A-lister, suggested a lifelong talent and sort of destined success.

That was certainly the case for a young Natalie Portman when she stunned the world with her performance in The Professional. It was also true of Jodie Foster’s heartbreaking portrayal of a young prostitute in Taxi Driver. Both would go on to award-winning acting careers as they grew up. 

Other child stars, however, don’t fare so well. Many burn out from the immense pressures fame places on them, turning to alcohol and drugs in a way that disrupts their potential and derails their lives. We’ve seen it happen to young stars like Lindsay Lohan and Amanda Bynes, both of whom struggled after promising starts as young actors. These days, their careers are mostly washed out. 

Plenty of other child stars fall somewhere in between, burning brightly while they’re young to choose a path other than acting or simply fail to make the leap from childhood roles (often in family-friendly films) to more mature parts. 

Linda Blair got an early start to acting, but she hit many of the same snags that have plagued child stars before and since. 

Linda Blair began acting at a very young age 

American actress Linda Blair poses during a photo shoot in Surry Hills in Sydney, New South Wales to promote a national tour for the 40th anniversary of the classic horror film 'The Exorcist'.
Linda Blair | Toby Zerna/Newspix/Getty Images

Blair was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1959, according to her IMDb biography. She was just five years old when she started stepping into the public eye. She got her tiny foot in the door as a model, but soon she was taking on acting gigs. 

In 1968, she had a small role in the TV crime drama Hidden Faces. In 1970, she landed a part in The Way We Live Now, a drama about a philandering husband’s midlife crisis. These small roles hadn’t done much to introduce the world to her name, but that was all about to change. 

‘The Exorcist’ role was very competitive

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The Exorcist released in 1973 and remains one of the most celebrated and terrifying examples of classic horror ever put to film. At the heart of the tale, which centers on demon possession, is Regan, a little girl who finds herself being used as a vessel for Satan himself. Blair beat out around 600 other applicants for the part, and it would define the rest of her career. 

The film was an emotionally and physically demanding one for Blair, and it even left her with some serious injuries. When the machine that made her appear to have convulsions malfunctioned, she got a fractured spine, but as she cried out in pain, the crew thought she was just acting the part. That real-life pain made it into the final cut of the movie. 

The film was a huge success, and it earned Blair a Golden Globes win and an Oscar nomination. 

Since ‘The Exorcist’ Linda Blair has faced struggles and triumphs

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Unfortunately, things weren’t easy for Linda Blair following her early rise to success. The acclaim of The Exorcist made her a coveted star, and she landed another major role in the extremely successful TV movie Born Innocent. She also took part in the sequel to The Exorcist in 1977. That’s when things took a turn for the worse. 

In late 1977, Blair was among 32 people arrested in a DEA investigation for cocaine use. As The New York Times reported at the time, “[a]n estimated $3 million in cocaine was seized in Florida and Texas.”

The arrest definitely put a damper on her promising career, but it did not end it. She continued to act, but the films were certainly of a lower caliber. Her once-promising career and Oscar nominations turned into something of a joke, filled with Razzie Award nods instead. 

Many have pointed to Blair’s good-natured attitude about the slide in her reputation, and she has even used her horror movie legend status to up the ante for several horror spoofs. As Hindustan Times reports, she is also a passionate activist for animal rights, and she tries to use her existing fame to raise awareness for the cause. 

Blair’s acting credits have been more sparse in recent years, but she does still take on small parts now and then. Overall, she’s had a busy — if not particularly flashy — a career with nearly 80 roles on her filmography.