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For Linda Blair, Life After 'The Exorcist' Includes Animal Rights Activism

Also: The results are in from the Special English listener contest. And former Shangri-Las singer Mary Weiss returns to music. Transcript of radio broadcast:


Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC in VOA Special English.


I'm Doug Johnson. On our show this week:

We listen to music from Mary Weiss …

Answer a question about American actress Linda Blair …

And report about the recent Special English listener contest.

Listener Contest


The results of the Special English listener study are in. Many of you might have answered our announcement back in May. If you did, thank you for taking a few minutes to communicate with us. The information you provided will help Special English better understand who is listening to us, and how. Barbara Klein has more.


We asked listeners to tell us when they listen to us and how: shortwave or medium wave radio frequency, by satellite or on the Internet. We received just over one thousand letters and e-mails. They came from ninety-nine countries all around the world.

More than three hundred responses came from East Asia. More than two hundred sixty came from Africa. The largest number came from listeners in China, followed by Nigeria. Most of our fans are listening to Special English by shortwave, followed closely by the Internet.

Here are quotes from some of the e-mails we received:

Orlando in Venezuela told us that he listens to Special English every night on his shortwave radio and also downloads the text of our programs from our Web site, He says he is learning to write and read and hear in English and each day is better than the day before.

Mohsen from Iran wrote that he has been listening to our programs for more than ten years. He is now an English teacher and recommends our programs to his students. He also uses materials from our Web site to teach his students about the culture, history, people and language of the United States.

Joanna from Poland told us that she also uses our Web site. “I can read the text, check the meaning of the words and I can hear the pronunciation... Thank you very much for very interesting information.”

We wish we could read on the air all the wonderful messages we received. We also wish we could give every person who responded a shortwave radio. But, only one lucky person wins the radio. That person is Nguyen Kim Vu Bao, an eighteen-year-old student from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Vu Bao wrote a letter saying he has never missed any of our programs since he first discovered our broadcasts on the radio more than a year ago.

Twenty other listeners will receive smaller VOA gifts. We want to thank everyone who took part in our study and hope you all will keep listening to Special English.

Linda Blair


Our VOA listener question this week comes from Brazil. Ivan Crespo wants to know what actress Linda Blair has done since she starred in the nineteen seventy-three movie “The Exorcist.”

In that famous movie, Linda Blair played a child who becomes possessed by the devil. The movie was very successful. The thirteen-year-old actress was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Today, most people know that the scary parts of "The Exorcist" were done with special effects. But Linda Blair says: "You would not believe how often people ask me to make my head spin around."

After ”The Exorcist,” she starred in other movies, playing troubled teenagers. She also starred in the sequel to the movie that made her famous, “Exorcist Two, the Heretic.” But it was not very successful.

In the nineteen eighties she was in several other movies that were not very popular. She also dated the singer Rick James. Some people have said that James wrote his popular song “Cold Blooded” about their relationship.

In nineteen ninety, Blair made fun of "The Exorcist" in the movie “Repossessed.” She also appeared on some television shows. In two thousand one, she hosted the show “The Scariest Places on Earth.”

Linda Blair always loved riding horses. In the nineteen eighties she competed in horse-riding events. She has a long history of helping animals. In fact, as a young girl, she had wanted to become a veterinarian, a doctor who treats animals. She has received many awards from the animal rights organization PETA. The City of Los Angeles honored her for her work with abused and lost animals.

She also began the Linda Blair WorldHeart Foundation. This organization provides animals with health care, food, training and shelter. It also helps people learn how to care for animals, so that fewer of them will be left alone or hurt in the future.

Mary Weiss



That was "Leader of the Pack," a nineteen sixty-four hit song by the Shangri-Las. The four girls in this popular group were only about sixteen years old when they started making records in Queens, New York. Their songs expressed the ups and downs of being a teenager. Now, more than forty years later, the band’s lead singer Mary Weiss has returned to music. Her new album is called “Dangerous Game.” Faith Lapidus has more.



That was the album’s title song, “Dangerous Game.” Mary Weiss worked with the music band Reigning Sound to make her record. They did not want to copy the music of the Shangri-Las. Mary Weiss said that nobody wants to go back to the past. But she did want to keep the style of the past in her record. She said her favorite song on her album is “Break it One More Time.”


Mary Weiss’s deep, smoky voice has changed a lot since she was a teenager. She says she is always surprised to learn how many people still listen to her old songs. Now, people can listen to her new songs.

Mary Weiss has said she learned what kinds of music young people are listening to through the social networking Web site, MySpace. She even created her own MySpace page.

We leave you with “Cry About the Radio.” This song criticizes the workings of the music industry.



I'm Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today.

It was written by Erin Braswell, Dana Demange and Jill Moss. Caty Weaver was our producer. To read the text of this program and download audio, go to our Web site,

Send your questions about American life to Please include your full name and mailing address. Or write to American Mosaic, VOA Special English, Washington, D.C., two-zero-two-three-seven, U.S.A. Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.