The Jesuit machine was behind all of the exorcist movies… ”
William Peter Blatty(January 7, 1928 – January 12, 2017) was an American writer and filmmaker best known for his 1971 novel The Exorcist and for the Academy Award-winning screenplay of its film adaptation. He also wrote and directed the sequel The Exorcist III. After the success of The Exorcist, Blatty reworked Twinkle, Twinkle, “Killer” Kane!(1960) into a new novel titled The Ninth Configuration, published in 1978. Two years later, Blatty adapted the novel into a film of the same title and won Best Screenplay at the 1981 Golden Globe Awards. Some of his other notable works are the novels Elsewhere (2009), Dimiter (2010) and Crazy(2010).
Born and raised in New York City, Blatty received his bachelor’s degree in English from Georgetown University(Jesuit) in 1950, and his master’s degree in English literature from the George Washington University. Following completion of his master’s degree in 1954, he joined the United States Air Force, where he worked in the Psychological Warfare Division. After service in the air force, he worked for the United States Information Agency in Beirut. Blatty was born on January 7, 1928, in New York City. He was the fifth and youngest child of Lebanese immigrants, Mary (née Mouakad), a devout Catholic and the niece of a bishop, and Peter Blatty, a cloth cutter.[6He attended Brooklyn Preparatory, a Jesuit school, on a scholarship and graduated as class valedictorian in 1946. He later attended Georgetown University(Jesuit) on a scholarship, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in English in 1950. Those years at Georgetown were probably the best years of my life, Blatty said in 2015. Until then, I’d never had a home.In the late 1950s, Blatty worked as the public relations director at Loyola University of Los Angeles(Jesuit)
Another Jesuit connection to the Exorcist movies is Thomas Valentine Bermingham II, SJ, (1918–1998), who was an American Jesuit priest, and Classical teacher and scholar. In addition to his academic career at institutions including Fordham University and Georgetown University, he was known for his involvement in the production of the 1973 horror film The Exorcist, on which he worked as a technical advisor as well as acting in a minor role. The Exorcist is a 1973 supernatural horror film by William Peter Blatty, based on the true story of Roland Doe, a 1949 case in which Catholic priests performed a series of exorcisms on a 14-year-old boy in Maryland.
Bermingham taught Blatty Latin at Brooklyn Prep in the mid-1940s, and worked at Georgetown at the same time Blatty was attending. Blatty first heard about the Roland Doe case from his religion professor at Georgetown, a priest named Father Gallagher. Bermingham then recommended Blatty read the best-known source of information about the case, an article by Bill Brinkley that appeared in The Washington Post on 2 August 1949, and suggested that Blatty use the story as his topic for an oratorical assignment.
Blatty never forgot about the Roland Doe story, and in 1969 he outlined a novel in which a young boy commits a murder, and the boy’s mother uses “possession” as a legal defense, enlisting a priest to help substantiate the claim. That year, Blatty sought Bermingham out for advice on the novel, at which time Bermingham was master of studies at St. Andrew-on-Hudson Novitiate. When the novel The Exorcist was published in 1971, Blatty included Bermingham in the credits, writing:
“I would also like to thank the Rev. Thomas V. Bermingham, S. J., Vice-Provincial for Formation of the New York Province of the Society of Jesus, for suggesting the subject matter of this novel.”
Work began on a film version of The Exorcist the same year that the novel was published. Blatty, the film’s producer, approached Bermingham to work on the film. He was initially reluctant to participate, worrying that the film would be “another Rosemary’s Baby” but he ended up signing on. Bermingham, along with Fathers John Nicola and William O’Malley, all Jesuits, served as technical advisors. In addition, Bermingham and O’Malley had minor acting roles in the film, with Bermingham portraying “Tom”, the President of Georgetown University, and O’Malley playing Father Dyer.