Linda Denise Blair (born January 22, 1959) is an American actress. Blair is best known for her role as the possessed child, Regan, in the film The Exorcist (1973), for which she was nominated for an Academy Award and two Golden Globes, winning one. She reprised her role in Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977).
Blair was born in St. Louis, Missouri, and was raised in Westport, Connecticut. She began her career as a six-year-old child model and started acting with a regular role on the short-lived Hidden Faces (1968-69) day time soap. Her first theatrical film appearance was in The Way We Live Now (1970). Blair was selected from a field of 600 applicants for her most notable role as Regan in The Exorcist (1973). The role earned her a Golden Globe and People’s Choice Award for Best Supporting Actress as well as an Academy Award nomination. She reprised her role in the sequel, Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977), garnering a Saturn Award nomination for Best Actress of 1978. Between these two films, she appeared in the TV movies Born Innocent (1974), Sarah T. – Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic (1975), and Sweet Hostage (1975) opposite Martin Sheen. Towards the end of the 1970s, Blair encountered trouble with law enforcement authorities as she was arrested and charged with drug possession and conspiracy to sell drugs. After trial, she was found not guilty of possession, but guilty of conspiracy to sell, leading to a reduced sentence of three years’ probation. Though she tried to act in subsequent films, Blair found it hard to restart her screen career and landed low grade films in the 1980s and later. As she herself said in an interview, her career “went down faster than the Titanic”.[this quote needs a citation] Blair’s career took a new turn in the 1980s, as she starred in a number of successful low-budget horror and exploitation films, including Hell Night (1981), Chained Heat (1983) and Savage Streets (1984). Blair has since worked in numerous films, including the Exorcist spoof, Repossessed (1990), and a cameo role in Scream (1996). In 1997, she appeared in a Broadway revival of Grease. She was cast as a regular in the BBC television show, L.A. 7 (2000). She hosted Fox Family’s Scariest Places On Earth (2000-6). Blair has become an animal rights activist and humanitarian, working with PETA, Feed The Children, Variety, the Children’s Charity and other organizations. Blair also devotes time to her non-profit organization, the Linda Blair WorldHeart Foundation, which works to rescue abused, neglected and mistreated animals. She is a vegan, and has co-authored the book Going Vegan!. In 2008 she appeared at the 18th annual Malaga Fantasy and Horror Film Festival to accept a lifetime achievement award for her work in the horror genre. She appeared in the 2009 documentary Confessions of a Teenage Vigilante, discussing her role as Brenda in Savage Streets (1984). The documentary is included as a bonus feature on the 2009 DVD release of the film. In 2010 she appeared as herself on the cable series Pit Boss and Jury Duty. She appears in the 2011 Rick Springfield documentary Affair of the Heart, and was a panelist in a 2011 episode of The Joy Behar Show. Called upon with honors, Blair appeared at a pre-taped 84th Annual Academy Awards ceremony honoring make-up artist Dick Smith. Smith created the iconic make-up for Blair in The Exorcist, as well as scores of other films.