August 8, 2013
Karen Black, the actress best known for her roles in film classics such as Easy Rider, Five Easy Pieces and Nashville, died Thursday from complications of cancer at 74.
Her husband Steven Eckleberry, who had been chronicling her cancer fight on Black’s blog, announced the news on Facebook on Thursday.
“Thank you all for all your prayers and love, they meant so much to her as they did to me,” the Facebook update stated.
Black was diagnosed with ampullary cancer of the stomach in November 2010. In March, a fundraising page was set up to help raise donations for experimental treatment in Europe.
Black appeared in more than 100 films and often portrayed women who were quirky and threatened. Her breakthrough role came in 1969’s Easy Rider, where she played a New Orleans prostitute who takes LSD with Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda. The following year she played a waitress alongside Jack Nicholson in 1970’s Five Easy Pieces and earned a supporting-actress Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe.
In 1971, Black again worked with Nicholson in Drive, He Said, which he also directed. After writing and performing songs for Robert Altman’s Nashville, in which she played a country singer, she was nominated for a Grammy award. Black also starred as a jewel thief in Alfred Hitchcock’s last movie, Family Plot, released in 1976.
She received a Golden Globe nomination for her role as Myrtle Wilson in 1974’s Great Gatsby.
In later years, Black worked extensively in the horror genre with roles in films such as 1976’s Burnt Offerings and 1975’s Trilogy of Terror. There were enough memorable parts that a punk band named itself The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black in her honor.
Sidenote: Karen Black also had a Cameo in the “Tales of the City” Miniseries. Karen makes her appearance around the 1:10 mark in this video clip.