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By Associated Press

William Peter Blatty, the author of "The Exorcist," has died. He was 89.

Blatty's widow, Julie, said her husband died Thursday at a hospital in Bethesda, Maryland. She said the cause of death was multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer.

Writer/Producer William Peter Blatty attends the special screening of "The Exorcist Extended Director's Cut" at The Museum of Modern Art on Sept.29, 2010 in New York City.George Napolitano / Getty Images

Blatty was a former Jesuit school valedictorian who conjured a tale of demonic possession and gave millions the fright of their lives with the best-selling novel and Oscar-winning movie.

Blatty's story of a 12-year-old-girl inhabited by a satanic force was published in 1971 and sold more than 10 million copies. The film, starring Linda Blair, came out two years later and its box office topped $400 million worldwide.