- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 18, 2004

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Actress Mercedes McCambridge, who won an Oscar for the 1949 film “All the King’s Men” and later provided the raspy voice of the demon-possessed girl in “The Exorcist,” has died. She was 87.

Mrs. McCambridge died from natural causes on March 2, Cathy Ruppert, the assistant to the trustee of the McCambridge estate, said from San Diego yesterday.

Miss Ruppert said the actress died at an assisted-living facility in the La Jolla area of San Diego.

Mrs. McCambridge’s strong, radio-trained voice made her an ideal film portrayer of hard-driving women. She received the Academy Award as supporting actress for her screen debut in “All the King’s Men” as secretary and mistress to a populist Southern governor, Willie Stark, a close characterization of Louisiana’s colorful Huey Long. The film also won Oscars for best actor and best picture.

Because of her vocal skills, Mrs. McCambridge was hired to portray the demon in William Friedkin’s 1973 smash hit “The Exorcist.”

Charlotte Mercedes Agnes McCambridge was born on March 16, 1916, in Joliet, Ill., Miss Ruppert said.

Despite the celebrity that followed her Academy Award, Miss McCambridge’s film career did not flourish. Because she did not fit the glamour-girl image prevalent in postwar films, her movie work was sporadic.

“I don’t think the Hollywood community is interested in what I can do,” she said in a 1981 interview. “That’s all right. I’ve never looked for a job in my life, and I’m not going to start now. I have plenty to keep me busy.”

Among her later films: “Johnny Guitar” (1954), “Giant” (1956 — her second Academy Award nomination as supporting actress), “A Farewell to Arms” (1957), “Touch of Evil” (1958 — with her radio colleague Orson Welles), and “Suddenly Last Summer” (1959).

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