The Exorcist' director William Friedkin dies aged 87

The Exorcist' director William Friedkin dies aged 87

The Exorcist director William Friedkin dies aged 87

William Friedkin, the groundbreaking U.S. director of "The Exorcist" and "The French Connection," died on Aug. 7, a family friend told AFP. He was 87.

Friedkin passed away in Los Angeles after suffering unspecified health issues in recent years, said Stephen Galloway, a former Hollywood Reporter executive editor.

"He died this morning," confirmed Galloway, after speaking with Friedkin's wife.

Friedkin had "been working until a few weeks ago," but "had been in declining health," he added.

Friedkin was among a crop of influential young "New Hollywood" directors who fundamentally reshaped the US film industry, upsetting a long-established system in which powerful studio producers had reigned supreme.

Alongside fellow auteurs such as Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese, Friedkin exploded onto the scene in the early 1970s, with gritty cop drama "The French Connection."

Starring Gene Hackman, it won five Oscars including for best director and best picture.

He followed that up with "The Exorcist," in 1973 It was a huge commercial and critical hit, as well as being deeply controversial.

The shocking film about a 12-year-old girl possessed by the devil was nominated for 10 Oscars, winning two, and spawned multiple sequels.

Friedkin's career went into sharp decline soon after, including hugely expensive flop "Sorcerer" in 1977.

While he never reached those early heights again, he continued directing well into his 80s.

His final film, "The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial," starring Kiefer Sutherland, is set to premiere at this year's Venice film festival.