The creator of 1973 horror classic The Exorcist has died. William Peter Blatty passed away on 12 January at the age of 89, the film's director, William Friedkin, confirmed on Twitter.
Paying tribute to the revered writer, who celebrated his birthday on 7 January, Friedkin described him as a "dear friend and brother". The cause of death is not yet known.
Although his first book was Which Way to Mecca, Jack? and he also wrote Elsewhere and the Ninth Configuration, Blatty was best known for penning 1971's The Exorcist, which details the demonic possession of the twelve-year-old daughter of a famous actress.
The movie, which starred Ellen Burstyn, was a major commercial success, earned two gongs at the 1973 Academy Awards.
Producers enlisted his services once again for the screenplay for the second sequel The Exorcist III, released in 1989. He also directed the project.
Thanks to the iconic possessed child's image, the horror still frightens audiences till today. In September 2016 the first series of the TV reboot, starring Alfonso Herrera, Ben Daniels, and Geena Davis, debuted on Fox.
Blatty is survived by his wife, Julie Alicia Witbrodt.
English director Edgar Wright remembered Blatty on Twitter, writing: "Rest in peace William Peter Blatty, writer of both the peerless horror 'The Exorcist' AND the funniest Clouseau film, 'A Shot In The Dark.
"Also writer & director of the under-appreciated 'The Ninth Configuration' and 'The Exorcist III'. Both well worth seeing if you haven't."
As tributes for Blatty continue to flood social media, it has been claimed that the Catholic priest who inspired the Exorcist died after he fell when a possessed child spoke to him. According to a CIA agent, Father Malachi Martin from County Kerry was pushed to his death by an invisible force that came from inside the four-year-old girl he was meant to be exorcising.