Los Angeles pet lovers.
By Nora Fraser
"This is my Cinderella day. My Cinderella day really came too early. I remember and appreciate it… but this may be the last coming out party!" Linda laughs uproariously at this thought.
Linda Blair catapulted to global celebrity twenty-seven years ago when, at the age of thirteen, she got an Oscar nomination for playing, well, the devil. No small accomplishment for what many consider to be the "scariest movie ever made." As a child however, being a movie star was not Linda’s top priority.
"I couldn’t get away from the press enough. Because all I did was work and when I wasn’t working I wanted to ride. The horses were the most important thing to me."
This is not what "star makers" want to hear.
As a child, Linda was a competitive rider and had a full career as an actor and model before The Exorcist. By the time she was thirteen, she was ready for retirement.
"I was coming into my teenage years and it wasn’t what I wanted to do. When you’re thirteen years old, you’re thinking about becoming a woman. You’re noticing boys. And they’re still making you look like you’re ten, putting your hair in ponytails and wrapping your breasts. My head was not into it."
Her mother told her she understood but that they just had to "finish some work." Within two weeks, the interview forThe Exorcist came along. But Linda was not prepared for the "horrific dialogue" and physical stress she was to experience during filming.
"I was the professional I had been taught to be my whole life. You do what you’re told to do. Plain and simple. Didn’t like it. Didn’t say anything. I did not like the content. I did not like being made into a monster."
The grueling and uncomfortable make-up process was compounded by the rig that Linda was strapped into in order to create those quick, jerky movements.
"The Exorcist wrecked my spine. The equipment came loose - to make me do all those wonderful things on the bed - sitting up and down. Being whipped and lashed all over the place. I was along for the ride but it damaged my back. It kept slamming into my back. It just came undone, that’s all."
Linda also credits the accidents she had while training horses and a dirt bike mishap, as contributing factors to her back problems.
"I tested this model body. When I came to earth, I said ‘let’s see what we can do with this sporty number. Let’s see how far we can push this one.’"
Her Love For Animals
Linda Blair walks a mile every day with her horse and dogs. They are, according to her, her best friends. All are "throwaways" that Linda has rescued. Sunny is her adopted Staffordshire Terrier who happens to have epilepsy, and Missy is the Queensland Heeler Linda just intended to "foster" until the right home came along. Missy (who has allergies and hives) had no such plans to move on and has thus become a permanent member of the family.
"They know the minute I put my socks on… we’re going out to the horse. That could be morning or night. They get so exited. I can’t take my horse out without my dogs anymore."
Linda says one reason she delights in exercising her pets is because it causes her to regularly go outdoors and proclaim "Oh what a gorgeous day!"
(Some of us may want to rethink the Zoloft we’ve been taking to go for this effect.)
Linda’s love of animals goes back to her early childhood when she was a voracious reader of animal books, her favorite being The Black Stallion series.
"I lived in a dream world with animals. I had my friends at school, but when I had to go to work and when I came home - who were my friends? My animals."
She had a little family of white mice when she was ten. "I loved my mice so much. The female died at birth and the father would go to the water container and come back and try to feed those itty-bitty babies. I’ve learned so much… which is why I argue against medical research. I say ‘don’t even go there with me’".
The Blair family also had cats as Linda was growing up. "They were part of our family. They were our entertainers."
But Linda draws the line at the antics of a family pet to entertain. She crusades against cruelty to performing animals such as circus elephants who must suffer for the public’s "sheer amusement".
"I’d do anything to protect a performing animal." Linda remembers shooting commercials around Ringling Brothers Circus when she was seven years old. "I didn’t like it then. Through my work I have been shown certain things. I have a right as a performing child to talk about performing animals because there is little difference. Performing child. Performing animal. No choice. Performing adult, choice."
Linda is not a fan of zoos either. While filming on location at a zoo she watched the lions pacing back and forth. "I could see them and feel their torture. Their claustrophobia… psychosis. I can feel them just wanting to become undone and explode."
Because Linda doesn’t believe we’ll see zoos shut down in our lifetime, she advocates creating more humane environments for zoo enclosures.
I don’t have a switch in my head to turn off the suffering of animals", she laments. "Everybody’s biggest complaint in my life is that I don’t have a life anymore for Linda. Everything I do is about helping the animals. Everything I do is to help the planet be better for the animals. That and health issues. I can’t help it. It’s who I am."
Known for being a renowned animal rights activist and humanitarian, if there’s a major fundraising event featuring celebrities for an animal welfare organization, chances are Linda Blair will be there to lend her support. Whether it’s the Ark Trust’s Annual Genesis Awards or a fashion show for Actors and Others for Animals, it’s a good bet that Linda will be among the participants. She also regularly lends her support to PETA, Last Chance for Animals, and The ROAR Foundation (for Tippi Hedren’s Shambala.) Linda even braved the hot, humid weather to take the stage at the first annual Worldfest that took place in Woodley Park in July. And while photographers and reporters at these events always gravitate to her, they also provide her great opportunities to make her plea on behalf of animals.
Since the first release of The Exorcist 27 years ago, Linda has achieved cult status as a "Hollywood Scream Queen." There’s one fan-based "Linda Blair" web site that features photographs and information about her films like Born Innocent (the TV film about child abuse that changed network television), and Roller City (with soundtrack - she rollerskates!) And there’s another web site that has even more stuff about Linda’s career, her itinerary, and her interests. If you visit this site, www.lindablair.com, you’ll discover that during the week of October 23rd, Linda will be hosting a 5 part series, "The World’s Scariest Places" on Fox Family Channel; and you’ll also see that she co-stars in the teen hit "S Club 7" on Fox Family. The site also mentions that on September 23rd, Linda received the prestigious "Missourian Award" (for excelling in the arts, animal and human rights) along with Walter Cronkite. (Right on, Linda!)
But these are not the web sites Linda seems to be excited about. In fact, she doesn’t even mention them. Her frustration with the way conventional medical doctors treated her chronic back pain led her to a path of alternative medicine. As a result, the web site Linda Blair wants you to know about is her new "AlterNet," which will feature alternative health and medicine programming, and content about animal issues and the environment. Its purpose is to entertain as well as raise awareness to the global issues that affect the quality of human AND animal life.
"I’m just trying to help people. We’re trying to educate people for what they can do for themselves. We - I say ‘we’ - I mean everybody in my head."
There may be a committee in there, but Linda Blair has her head on straight this time.
(Linda Blair can currently be seen in the re-release of The Exorcist, with 11 minutes of new footage not used in the original. You can keep up to date on all things Linda Blair atwww.lindablair.com, and discover how she is trying to make a global difference with her new web site-www.thealternet.com)
(Emmy-award winning producer and television commentator Nora Fraser is an animal lover who serves on the Board of Directors of the Ark Trust. In her spare time, she develops shows for television.)
First published in August of 1999, The Pet Press has become THE only local resource for
pet lovers in the Los Angeles area. The mission of The Pet Press is three-fold:
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