Peter Masterson, whose long career spanned writing, acting and directing on Broadway and in film and television, has died. He passed Wednesday at his home in Kinderhook, N.Y. after a fall, according to his family. He was 84 and suffering from Parkinson’s disease.
Masterson appeared in such films as The Exorcist and The Stepford Wives, but the Houston native is best known for turning a regional story about a chicken ranch bordello in La Grange into the musical The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, a hit Broadway show that later became a feature film.
Born Carlos Bee Masterson Jr. in 1934 in Houston, Masterson studied history at Rice University and moved to New York City in the 1950s to study acting.
He landed several small roles in film and TV before making his big breakthough in 1967’s In the Heat of the Night. He went on to have a prominent role as the clinical director in The Exorcist, and had the lead role in The Stepford Wives as Cliff Eberhart. His daughter, actress Mary Stuart Masterson, made her first credited appearance in that film at age 9.