TODAY | October 10, 2012
>>> that music. for many of us linda blair will always be that demonic girl in "the exorcist," the chilling portrayal that catapulted her to stardom as a teenager, but now assin adult the one she's playing is a different one, animal protector and jill rappaport is here to tell us about that.
>> "exorcist" scares me.
>> linda blair was only 14 when she landed the girl that made all of our heads spin but the young girl possessed by the devil on screen now in real life has become an angel to animals in need.
>> high desert country in southern california . nestled in these mountains, a two and a half acre sanctuary for the forgotten. this is where linda blair spends her day, feeding, training and loving 75 dogs who otherwise wouldn't have a home.
>> this is like a little piece of heaven on earth that you've created here.
>> i've done the best with what i can. i call it design on a dime for the dogs, and it's quite rough. it's very much a pioneer life up here.
>> go get it.
>> reporter: after decades of advocating for animal rights , blair started a non-profit organization called the linda blair world heart foundation to ease the plight of unwanted pets. five years ago she bought this property to give some of those pets a temporary home.
>> how are they doing?
>> reporter: it's a rather desolate remote place.
>> yeah, you think?
>> reporter: i love it. it's beautiful, but, you know, it's a hell of a holler to your neighbor down there.
>> reporter: how do you get the traffic in so that these animals can get adopted.
>> the hardest part, jill , is because of who i am, letting people on the property so you have to go sort of through a security thing and you have to do an application for the dogs.
>> about five or six months old.
>> reporter: now player plays matchmaker, connecting responsible owners with the kinds of breeds that sometimes have a bad reputation.
>> i look at how long they are working and what they are doing during the day and what they offer and their knowledge, small dog, big dog , medium dog, i've about pit bulls to poodles, jill .
>> reporter: blair says the dogs she helps are oftens understood and blair knows a little bit about being misunderstood. in 1937 she was cast in the horror movie "the exorcist" playing young girl possessed by the devil .
>> it was the biggest novel in the world, "the exorcist." anyone would be thrilled to go and try out for a part, for the project. just like "the hunger games" now, to get that job is everything.
>> she earned an academy award nomination for her performance, but says the role also demonized her in the public eye. u took some severe heat for that.
>> i had so much prejudice against me, jill , that was obviously not true.
>> reporter: and you were so young.
>> i was so controversial, and it really wasn't who i was.
>> reporter: h does that affect you at that young age?
>> that's why i fight for the dogs. i understand it. that's why i fight for the underdog.
>> i take care of those that have no chance.
>> reporter: but these days blair is getting nothing but positive press. this past summer the los angeles city council gave blair an award for her work with her dogs, including spencer, a black lab mix who saved his adopted family from a home invasion robbery.
>> i am really proud that i'm putting out canine good citizens. that makes me know that i am on the right path.
>> reporter: this is so nice. do you actually take them out on walks yourself every day?
>> we, i just feel that the exercise is most important.
>> reporter: while the recognition and awards are nice, they don't pay the bills. every day blair is either working at the shelter or working her connections to raise money for her foundation. having all these animals hear and knowing there were many days that you just looked up and said can i even do this tomorrow, how do you keep going dayfter day?
>> there are days, jill , where really in the last couple of years we were threatened with foreclosure. i got -- i got us out of it on my own, an nobody assumes linda blair off on the mountain with the dogs, possibly. i'm rich and famous , you know, but i'm not, because all my money through my life has always gone to charity, and they say if you give, it will come back to you tenfold. i know that what i do here is really important.
>> it certainly is, and because her organization is a non-profit she's literally living hand to dog's mouth, but as you heard her say it is so worth it, and she wouldn't have it any other way.
>> been a long road for her. nice to see her doing so well, jill . thank you.