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R.I.P. Karen Black (1939-2013)

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by Kevin Jagernauth
August 8, 2013 6:17 PM
5 Comments
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There are few actresses from the heady, wild days of American cinemas golden age of the 1970s who could count Robert Altman, Bob Rafelson, John Schlesinger, Jack Nicholson, Dennis Hopper and even Alfred Hitchcock as collaborators. But one who had all of their names (and more) on her CV was Karen Black, and she has passed away today at the age of 74.

After starting her career in television, Black emerged in 1969's "Easy Rider," the movie world took note, and she never looked back. She'd spend the next decade appearing in a number of seminal films — "Five Easy Pieces," "Nashville," "Family Plot," "The Great Gatsby," "The Day Of The Locust" — earning accolades for her work. Her name even graces more underground faves like Nicholson's directorial debut "Drive, He Said" and the Gene Hackman/Kris Kristofferson starring "Cisco Pike." In terms of awards, she was recognized with a Best Actress nomination for "Five Easy Pieces," while the Golden Globes not only gave her a statue for that film, but for 'Gatsby' as well, while she landed another nomination for 'Locust.' 

And while she had an illustrious start, the actress in her later years, became just as well known for her string of genre and horror flicks, appearing in films by folks like Rob Zombie and Alex Cox, and developing a cult following all her own. Sadly, Black had been battling cancer in recent months, and had even sought funds through crowdsourcing to help pay for her treatments. Her husband today revealed she had succumbed to bladder cancer. She will be greatly missed. [Variety]

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5 Comments

  • Blue Sunbeam | August 9, 2013 12:01 PMReply

    It is very sad to hear the passing of someone we have never met in person yet enjoyed so much on film. She was a very powerful and terrifying actress who will be missed by all her fans. Does anyone have information on where and when the funeral or memorial will be held?

  • Curtis | August 8, 2013 7:32 PMReply

    You cannot mention the films of the 70's without mentioning her. She was in Easy Rider and started that brief moment of freedom for directors to take chances and actors who didn't look like Doris Day and Cary Grant to be leading women and men. Her performance in FIVE EASY PIECES is heartbreaking and vexing at the same time. You wanted to slap her in the face and then hold her and tell her it was going to be alright, much like Nicholson's Bobby Dupea. and on the other end of the spectrum I remember her battling a small doll in an apartment in Trilogy of Terror. Those eyes. That voice. That talent.

  • Mark-Alexis | August 8, 2013 10:47 PM

    Love this summary!

  • cineman | August 8, 2013 6:35 PMReply

    She was just lovely. 70s definitely her decade. Everything she appeared in seemed to be gold - even half-forgotten stuff like The Outfit with Robert Duvall was just great.

  • LeonRaymond | August 8, 2013 6:32 PMReply

    That face, oh boy, that face. I truly Loved her. Not too many actresses can be Sexy and Horrifying in the course of their career and she could do both. Sorry people. They broke the mold when they made her. She is another of those who really deserve the title ICON in front or after her name. !!

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