Wednesday, May 1, 2013

My father and the Exorcist

Dad's supernatural brush with the novel

Willaim Peter Blatty acknowledgment of Dad in the Exorcist

This post has nothing to do with my art, but my appreciation for my fathers connection with literature. For me, The Exorcist has always been the scariest book ever written and movie ever made. Both, in my mind, are masterpieces of creative writing and cinema. A copy of the book always sat on the shelf in the hallway outside my bedroom in the house I grew up in, in Rockville Maryland. And when I was young, the cover always scared me. I remember when I first got the courage to read the book and how I was fascinated by it while being scared out of my mind. And then at a very young age seeing the movie, at night, and running home from the theater in complete fear. Fearful of every dark room I passed on my way up to my bedroom that night. And having a hard time falling asleep, knowing that something was under my bed. When I talked to my dad about the movie his response was, "the books much scarier, rubber masks aren't as scary as your imagination." That's a true librarian, and book lovers reaction for ya. Dad always tells you exactly how he feels.

A copy of the first edition in perfect shape which Dad had William Blatty sign for me.

My father went to Georgetown University and was a classmate of William Peter Blatty who would later write the Exorcist. Dad, at the time Mr Blatty wrote the book, was the Head curator of Georgetown Unversity's library and helped Bill, as Dad calls him, do research for the book. To this day they are close friends. He gave my dad credit on the acknowledgment page in the back of the book, which you can see in the picture at the top of this post.

The Cover Page signed by WIlliam Blatty to me. 

It reads "For Tim- With every kind wish in the known universe"

Dad met up with William Blatty recently and had him sign a first edition of the Exorcist for me. I've always wanted a signed copy for my library, and Dad came through. It's a hard copy first edition from 1971 in perfect shape. Even the wrap jacket is perfect. Hard to believe after 42 years. He inscribed the cover page with "For Tim- With every kind wish in the know universe, William Peter Blatty." I'll keep it always and past it onto my kids.

My Dad Joe Jeffs

On our recent trip down to Washington to see my Mom & Dad I was able to go by and take some photos, with my family, of the house and staircase that appeared in the Exorcist movie. They are in Georgetown, in Washington DC. Here are a few composite split screens I made of "Then and Now". It's been 40 years since the movie came out in 1973, and 42 years since the book was written in 1971. But in Georgetown it feels like Evil is still lurking!

A then and now split screen of The Exorcist movie set in Georgetown 40 years later. Harrison is standing in for Max von Sydow

Here's a split screen of the house used in the Exorcist Movie. The top, from 1973 was the image for the movie poster. They completely changed the house for the movie. Adding a left wing, adding a roof, stone wall, and iron gate.

The infamous Staircase seen in the end of the Movie 40 years later

 Top of the steps looking down...way down! Jane is holding on for dear life.

The Exorcist House Then & Now

In this split screen you can see where they constructed the mock left wing of the house for the movie. They needed to extend the house so that Regan's bedroom window overlooked the staircase. Jane is standing at the top of the staircase, almost 30 feet from the original house.

Me at the bottom of the famous "Exorcist Stairs"

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