Parker County Today October 2017 - Page 10

8 also an animal lover who cares a lot about senior citi- zens.” Blair has been working for half-a-century, beginning with a successful modeling career that took off. By the time she was five her image had appeared in more than 75 ads and commercials. By the age of 12, her image was featured in hundreds of magazines and catalogues. When she auditioned for the part of Regan McNeil in The Exorcist, she was selected for the part from a crowd of more than 600 girls.  The only member of her family that was actu- ally in show business, Blair is a native of St. Louis. Her mother, Elinore, was a real estate agent, and her father, James, was an execu- tive headhunter. She has a brother, Jimmy, and a sister, Debbie.  The Exorcist, for which she won a Golden Globe and an Academy Award nomination, was a double- edged sword for Blair. Blair was only 15, when the movie was released, but she received death threats. The studio that released the film, Warner Brothers, provided security to protect Blair and her family. Security person- nel spent 24 hours a day, seven days a week with the Blair family for six months. No one was ever arrested in connection with the threats.  After Blair’s work promoting the movie was completed, the studio stopped providing security for her, even though the threats continued. Blair came to realize that people were actually afraid of her. “It was strange for me when I was that young and I’d meet someone who genuinely seemed to be afraid of me,” Blair once said. “They couldn’t separate me from the monster I played in the movie. You wouldn’t believe how often people ask me to make my head spin around.” Over the next few years Blair landed lots of leads in successful television films that include Born Innocent and Sarah T. - Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic (1975). Blair is extremely proud of her roles in the made-for-television movies, she said.  In 1977, Blair starred in The Exorcist sequel Exorcist II: The Heretic. It was not the huge success that the original The Exorcist had been, and the movie critics more or less killed the film.  However, in the year, 2000, a completely different version of The Exorcist franchise was filmed, one that instead of inspiring screams, fear and chills, it made audiences howl — with laughter. Called Repossessed, starring Leslie Nielson and Linda Blair, it was a parody. “Of all the movies I’ve made, it was my favorite movie,” Blair said. “I had so much fun making it.” Rewarding Work Despite all of the fame she’s experienced, it’s Blair’s love of animals and the work she’s done in their behalf that has ultimately given her the most satis- faction.  Blair became especially zealous for the cause of animal rescue after one of her beloved dogs was stolen from her, and she vowed to do everything in her power to end animal/pet theft.  “I was introduced to a man named Chris DeRose, a former police officer,” Blair said. DeRose was also a former actor that became a leader in the animal rights movement, and an inspiration and consultant to countless individuals and groups dedicated to the animal cause. In 1984, DeRose founded Last Chance for Animals (LCA), an international, nonprofit animal advocacy organization focused on investigating, exposing, and ending animal exploitation. DeRose had enjoyed a promising career as an actor, but chose to devote all of his time to saving animals and educating people about animal abuse. For 10 years, DeRose worked as a reporter and special correspondent for TV’s Hard Copy. By the time Hard Copy left the air in 1999, DeRose had contributed to more than 150 animal stories on the show that reached millions of people. Blair and DeRose joined forces to fight against a large but relatively Continued on page 12