The Exorcist
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Credit: Warner Bros.

John Mahon, known for memorable The Exorcist and The X-Files roles, dies at 82

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May 20, 2020

John Mahon, an actor known for his appearances in The Exorcist and The X-Files, has died at the age of 82. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Mahon passed away on May 3 at his Los Angeles home from natural causes. The outlet received confirmation from the actor's son, Joseph.

Mahon's prolific film/television acting career spanned an impressive 45 years, beginning in 1973 with director William Friedkin's horror classic about a young girl (Linda Blair) possessed by a foul-mouthed, vomit-spewing demon. In The Exorcist, Mahon briefly plays the lab technician who informs Father Karras (Jason Miller) that the strange language spouted by Regan MacNeil is not devil-speak or some forgotten tongue, but English words chillingly pronounced backwards.

Born in Scranton, Pennsylvania in February of 1938, Mahon attended the University of Scranton where he studied classical languages and English literature. It was here that he met Miller (who was a playwright as well as a performer) and the two soon became fast friends, eventually collaborating on Miller's Off Broadway production of Nobody Hears A Broken Drum in 1971.

Credit: Warner Bros.

After The Exorcist, Mahon went on to appear in several other pieces of genre fare like a Season 4 episode of Knight Rider (1985's "Knight Racer"); Michael Bay's Armageddon (1998); a two-part Season 6 storyline of The X-Files (1998's "Dreamland" and "Dreamland" Parts I & II); Jay Roach's Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999); and a two-part Season 4 storyline of Star Trek: Enterprise (2005's "In a Mirror, Darkly" Parts I & II).

"Everything I did for 40 years ... I always played military guys or cops [things] I couldn't do in real life," the actor once remarked in a 2015 interview with Cinema Circus. "I lived in an imaginative reality. I didn't want to be an actor, it's like I had to be an actor."

Mahon (middle) as Police Chief in Curtis Hanson's L.A. Confidential Credit: Warner Bros.

At the age of 12, Mahon contracted polio and became paralyzed for the better part of a year. Even after recovering, he never regained the full use of one arm, but used his experience to mentor other actors with physical disabilities. His inspiring life story was chronicled in his 2014 memoirA Life of Make Believe: From Paralysis to Hollywood.

The actor is survived by his son (mentioned above) and daughter, Katharine. He's the second Exorcist vet to pass away this year. Max von Sydow (Father Lankester Merrin) died in March.

(certain information via IMDB)


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