Thanks to years of documentaries and TV specials, many people are at least vaguely aware that The Exorcist is was based on a true story. But, just as how The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is only loosely based on Ed Gein, the truth about The Exorcist is stranger (and far less exotic) than fiction.
The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry’s website has an article which reveals some interesting details about the original “exorcism” (such as how the allegedly possessed youth was a male). On top of that, StrangeMag.com offers up a detailed and well-researched timeline of the events and an interview with a man who was present at the exorcism.
It’s both sad and strangely comic just how obviously non-supernatural the whole incident was in retrospect. The boy in question had been a troublesome, nasty youth prior to his “possession.” The “moving bed” had wheels on it and strange marks only appeared on the boy’s wrists after his hands were near them. Instead of projectile vomiting pea soup, the boy just spat without opening his mouth. Oddly enough, that’s actually one of Jeff Foxworthy’s “You might be a redneck” jokes!