Roundup: Linda Blair, Hubert Humphrey, Appletree Oak …

Yesterday’s “06880” Roundup noted the imminent destruction of a large white oak tree on Appletree Trail. A new home and swimming pool will be built on the property.

It did not happen as scheduled. Neighbor Cathy Morrison reports, “We may have temporarily halted the tree removal. The tree people needed access to remove it from our private street, and the residents won’t let the large trucks and equipment have access from our street. We pay to pave and plow it; the town doesn’t.”

White oak tree on Appletree Trail. (Photo/Cathy Morrison)


Westport Volunteer Emergency Medical Services always needs help. Here’s your chance.

EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) and EMR (Emergency Medical Responder) classes begin August 31. They run through December.

Classes are generally held Tuesdays and Thursdays, with some Saturdays.

They’re thorough. They’re intense. They’re also very important.

Click here for details. And thanks to all who enroll.


The death of director William Friedkin yesterday brought renewed attention to one of his most notable films.

Describing “The Exorcist,” William Grimes writes: “it was a suspenseful, often gruesome, cinematic study of evil at work in the modern world — evil conceived in almost medieval terms.”

Linda Blair, as the possessed girl, gave a terrifying performance enhanced by eye-popping special effects. In a cinematic moment that entered into legend, she spewed a jet of green vomit — actually a blend of oatmeal and pea soup — straight into the face of a priest played by Jason Miller. Even more startling, during the exorcism later in the film, her head spun full circle on her shoulders, grinning maniacally.

Westporters of a certain age remember Linda Blair well. She was a 14-year-old Staples High School student in 1973 — and had been working as a model and actress for years — when she was chosen from 600 others for the role of Regan.

She earned a Golden Globe Award, was nominated for an Oscar — and received death threats for her “blasphemy.”

Linda Blair in “The Exorcist.” (Photo courtesy of Warner Bros., via the New York Times)

The Times obituary notes:

The film, released in late December 1973, became a phenomenal hit, one of Hollywood’s top-grossing movies to date, with ticket sales of more than $200 million (the equivalent of about $1.3 billion today). It was also the first horror film to be nominated for a best picture Oscar. (It lost to “The Sting.”)

In New York, audiences lined up for hours in the freezing cold, while scalpers sold tickets for three times their face value. Vincent Canby, in The New York Times, dismissed the film as “claptrap” but pronounced it “the biggest thing to hit the industry since Mary Pickford, popcorn, pornography and ‘The Godfather.”

Click here for the full obituary. Click here for more on Linda Blair.


In the long, convoluted history of civil rights in America, the 1948 Democcratic Party’s plank — which led President Truman to desegregate the armed forces — is often forgotten.

But it — and the role played by Minneapolis mayor (and US Senate candidate) Hubert Humphrey were crucial moments.

New York Times journalist, award-winning author and Columbia University professor Samuel Freedman explores those days in his new book, “Into the Bright Sunshine: Young Hubert Humphrey and the Fight for Civil Rights,” at the Westport Library on August 23 (7 p.m.). Books will be available for sale and signing.

There are 2 Westport connections.

Freedman will be interviewed on the Trefz Forum stage by journalist/author/editor Daniel Gross, who lives here.

And last year Freedman’s son Aaron married Carly Machlis. She grew up here, and graduated from Staples High School in 2009.

Click here for more information on Freedman’s appearance.


The Weston History & Culture Center offers 2 free summer program, for children ages 6-10.

“1940s Fun & Games Kids Camp” runs Thursday, August 17. Children will play with toys and games from the ’40s, and create crafts and art work from the era.

“Weston Illustrated Art Camp” follows on Wednesday, August 23. Both are 10 to 11:30 a.m. Youngsters will learn about artists who lived and worked in Weston. They’ll go on a scavenger hunt through the “Weston Illustrated” exhibit; create a cartoon strip, sculpt with clay, and create a toy.

Both programs will be taught by WHCC executive director Samantha Fargione, assisted by college and high school interns majoring in history. Click here to register, and for more information.


Abstract art?

(Photo/Mark Mathias)


A tree at Winslow Park — and today’s “Westport … Naturally” featured photo.


And finally … back to Linda Blair (story above). In the 1980s — a decade after starring in “The Exorcist” — she dated singer Rick James for 2 years.

He wrote “Cold Blooded” about her, after she had an abortion without his knowledge.

(Where else but “06880” will you find Linda Blair and Hubert Humphrey together? That’s why this blog is “Where Westport Meets the World.” Please click here to help us continue our work. Thank you!)

2 responses to “Roundup: Linda Blair, Hubert Humphrey, Appletree Oak …

  1. Many years ago, I did volunteer work at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, a cancer hospital in Manhattan. The nursing station on one of the floors had Humphry for president stickers on it, several years after his passing. I asked about it and was told he was a patient there, and basically given a choice between getting cancer treatment or running for president–he chose the later and died from cancer about four years after that.

  2. Elizabeth Devoll

    As the owner of Linda Blair’s childhood home here in Westport
    I get asked frequently if it’s haunted.
    There may be a small poltergeist occasionally
    Looming around but otherwise very peaceful.

What do you think? Please comment! Remember: All commenters must use full, real names!