Renowned filmmaker William Friedkin, best known for directing “The French Connection” and “The Exorcist,” has died at the age of 87.
The Directors Guild of America President Lesli Linka Glatter said, “When it comes to directorial influence, Billy was a titan – both on the screen and behind the scenes for his fellow members of the DGA. A master of storytelling across multiple genres, his aptitude for creating atmosphere and building tension broke convention and he was one of the key influences in the New Hollywood era of Director-driven filmmaking. The French Connection, for which he won the DGA Feature Film Award was the quintessential thriller; and The Exorcist remains the template for horror to this very day. To our good fortune, Billy was as adept at filmmaking as he was dedicated to culturally advancing the role of director – serving multiple terms on our Guild’s National Board as First Vice-President and as Eastern Directors Council Chair. Billy never kept his talent to himself. Throughout the years, he continually volunteered his time, sharing his expertise with newer generations of filmmakers through the DGA’s Special Projects Committee seminars, panels and events. Our thoughts are with Sherry and his family during this difficult time.”
In addition to his features The French Connection and The Exorcist and his Dramatic Special 12 Angry Men, Friedkin’s work includes the feature films Good Times, The Night They Raided Minsky’s, Sorcerer, The Boys in the Band, The Brink’s Job, To Live and Die in L.A., and Killer Joe; and episodes of The Twilight Zone, Tales from the Crypt, Rebel High and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.
A DGA member since 1962, Friedkin’s Guild service includes three terms on the DGA National Board where he was elected twice as First Vice President (1975-1977 and 1977-1979). He also served three terms on the Eastern Directors Council, serving as Council Chairperson from 1972-1976.
In addition to his two DGA Award nominations, including his French Connection win, Friedkin received a third nomination in 1998 for the movie for television 12 Angry Men.
In 1972 Friedkin won the Academy Award for Best Director for The French Connection and was again nominated in 1974 for The Exorcist.
Friedkin also won the Golden Globe for Best Director of a Motion Picture for both The French Connection and The Exorcist.