It’s 1973, and one of The Exorcist’s most terrifying scenes is being filmed in New York. For extra effect, the director has employed a team of medical professionals to replicate a gruesome real-life procedure. But in Paul Bateson, he has found more than a cast member. In fact, the radiographer will go on to become a legend in his own right.
Born in the Pennsylvania town of Lansdale on August 24, 1940, Bateson wasn’t a likely choice of movie star. In fact, he claims that his metallurgist father often refused to let Bateson visit the cinema in his youth. “He would punish me by not allowing me to go to Saturday matinees when I was young,” Bateson explained in a 1977 interview with The Village Voice. “He made me stay home and listen to opera on the radio.”
In the 1960s, Bateson joined the United States Army. But during a stint in Germany he grew tired of military life and started drinking in order to occupy his time. Apparently, it was the beginning of a long battle with alcoholism that would continue to haunt him throughout his life.