William Friedkin, the director of Oscar-winning films The French Connection and The Exorcist has died at the age of 87.
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Friedkin passed away today (August 7) at home in Los Angeles. His death was confirmed by Chapman University dean Stephen Galloway, who is a friend of Friedkin’s wife Sherry Lansing.
The filmmaker rose to fame in the ’70s along with Peter Bogdanovich, Francis Ford Coppola and Hal Ashby, who were seen as a new generation of envelope-pushing directors. Friedkin specialised in making vibrant horrors and flashy police thrillers.
Before he pursued a job in directing, Friedkin worked for many years in TV, particularly in documentary filmmaking, using a cutting-edge style of editing.
The Exorcist (1973) was his last blockbuster, about the demonic possession of a young girl, and raked in $500million worldwide. It took home a number of awards the Oscars including Best Adapted Screenplay.
The French Connection (1971) was awarded heavily at the 44th Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor (Gene Hackman), among other gongs.
Other notable films Friedkin made include To Live And Die In L.A. (1985), The Night They Raided Minsky’s (1968) and Deal Of The Century (1983).
During the 2000s Friedkin released the 2003 thriller The Hunted starring Tommy Lee Jones and Benicio Del Toro and 2007 horror movie Bug starring Ashley Judd and Harry Connick Jr.
He also worked on television series including Tales From The Crypt, The Twilight Zone, Space Quest, C.A.T. Squad and Rules Of Engagement.
Friedkin’s final film was The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial starring Kiefer Sutherland, which is due to premiere at the Venice Film Festival over the next month.
He is survived by his fourth wife Lansing and two sons.
Those familiar with Friedkin’s 1971 drama were surprised when a new edit approximately ten minutes into the film appeared. The scene in question involves a conversation between characters “Popeye” Doyle (Hackman) and Buddy “Cloudy” Russo (Roy Scheider) where a racial slur is uttered.