On August 7th, acclaimed director William Friedkin passed away at his home in Bel Air, California at the age of 87. His wife, former Paramount Studio head Sherry Lansing, disclosed that Friedkin passed away from heart failure and pneumonia. The news was verified by Stephen Galloway, a friend of Lansing and the Dean of Chapman University.
Friedkin rose to prominence with his 1971 crime thriller “The French Connection,” a gritty ’70s masterpiece celebrated for its iconic car chase scene against a moving train. The film received numerous Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Gene Hackman’s exceptional performance, as well as awards for the screenplay and editing.
In 1975, Friedkin worked on “The French Connection II” while simultaneously directing the horror sensation “The Exorcist,” based on William Peter Blatty’s novel. Widely regarded as one of the scariest films ever made, “The Exorcist” spawned sequels and prequels, although none were helmed by Friedkin. However, he did authorize an extended version in 2000 that included previously deleted scenes.
Throughout his career, Friedkin made a lasting impact on the film industry with other notable works such as the beloved remake “Sorcerer” in 1977 and the 1985 crime thriller “To Live and Die in L.A.,” recognized for its intense car chases and portrayal of the Secret Service combating counterfeiters. He returned to the horror genre in 1990 with “The Guardian.”
Friedkin’s directorial journey encompassed films like “Jade,” “Rules of Engagement,” “The Hunted,” and smaller suspenseful films like “Bug,” “Killer Joe,” and his final endeavor, the 2017 exorcism documentary “The Devil and Father Amorth.”
Prior to his breakthrough with “The French Connection,” Friedkin directed television shows and other films, including adaptations of “The Boys in the Band,” Harold Pinter’s “The Birthday Party,” and the Sonny and Cher feature film “Good Times.”