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Oscar-Winner William Friedkin, Renowned Director of ‘The French Connection’ and ‘The Exorcist,’ Passes Away at 87

On August 7th, Oscar-winning director William Friedkin passed away at his Bel Air, California home at the age of 87. His wife, former Paramount Studio head Sherry Lansing, revealed that Friedkin died due to heart failure and pneumonia.

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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The news was confirmed by Chapman University Dean Stephen Galloway, a friend of Lansing’s.

Friedkin achieved fame with his 1971 cop drama “The French Connection,” a gritty ’70s classic known for its iconic car chase against a train.

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The film earned several Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Gene Hackman’s performance, as well as awards for the screenplay and editing.

In 1975, Friedkin worked on “The French Connection II,” while directing the horror masterpiece “The Exorcist,” adapted from William Peter Blatty’s book.

Often regarded as the scariest movie ever made, “The Exorcist” generated sequels and prequels, though none directed by Friedkin.

However, he authorized an extended version in 2000 that included previously deleted scenes.

Throughout his career, Friedkin left a lasting impact on cinema with other notable works, such as the fan-favorite remake “Sorcerer” in 1977 and the 1985 law enforcement film “To Live and Die in L.A.,” known for its intense car chases and portrayal of Secret Service combatting counterfeiters.

He returned to the horror genre in 1990 with “The Guardian.”

Friedkin’s directorial journey also included films like “Jade,” “Rules of Engagement,” “The Hunted,” and smaller thrillers like “Bug,” “Killer Joe,” and his final work, the 2017 exorcism documentary “The Devil and Father Amorth.”

Before 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 “Good Times.”

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