William Girdler biography

William Girdler

Film director

1947 – 1978


Who was William Girdler?

William Girdler was an American filmmaker. In a span of seven years, from 1972 to 1978, he directed nine feature films in such genres as horror and action. Girdler also wrote and produced three of his features, Abby, Sheba, Baby and The Manitou.

Girdler, born in Louisville, Kentucky started Studio One Productions in his early twenties, and directed his first feature a low-budget film entitled Asylum of Satan which was briefly released to theaters. Girdler's second effort was a gory, if overlong slasher thriller entitled Three on a Meathook. Both Asylum of Satan and Three on a Meathook were filmed in his home town, and although both films received little notice, the films got the attention of Samuel Z. Arkoff and American International Pictures.

Girdler next directed three "blaxploitation" films. The first, in 1973, was a long lost thriller titled The Zebra Killer starring Austin Stoker. By coincidence, another Louisville native, Rich Miles, appeared in this picture in a small role as the local cop who discovers some of the bodies. Girdler's next feature was an Exorcist clone titled Abby with Carol Speed in the lead role and co-starring William H. Marshall and Oscar nominee Juanita Moore. Abby became Girdler's breakthrough film. The picture opened in 1974 to major box office success, earning nearly $9 million. Warner Brothers thought Abby was too derivative of Exorcist and the film was suddenly pulled from theaters after two weeks. The last "blaxploitation" film Girdler directed was the Pam Grier vehicle Sheba, Baby and his first effort in the action genre. Sheba, Baby was another major hit in theaters, even though it is often cited as one of Pam Grier's weaker vehicles when compared to her similarly themed action films Coffy and Foxy Brown. Girdler was then finished with his contract with Arkoff and AIP.

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Oct 22, 1947
  • United States of America
Lived in
  • Louisville
Jan 21, 1978

on July 23, 2013


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"William Girdler." Biographies.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 30 Jul 2021. <https://www.biographies.net/people/en/william_girdler>.

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