Karen Black, 74

KarenBlackKaren Black, the actress nominated for a Best Support Actress Academy Award for her work in the 1970 drama Five Easy Pieces, died earlier today after a long struggle with cancer. She was 74.

Black entered Northwestern University in 1954 at age 15 but dropped out two years later to pursue a career in acting. Following study with Lee Strasberg in New York, Black landed several off-Broadway roles before making her Great White Way debut in 1965’s The Playroom. She made landed her first major role in a film a year later as part of the cast of Francis Ford Coppola’s You’re A Big Boy Now.

Through the late 1960s and early `70s, Black was most often associated with dramatic films that charted the societal changes the country was undergoing. Her role as a waitress who enters into a relationship with high society drop Jack Nicholson in Five Easy Pieces was a result of Nicholson enjoying working with her the year before in Easy Rider.

Other notable roles from the height of her career include the 1974 version of The Great Gatsby, The Day of the Locust in 1975 and two Robert Altman films Nashville and Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean. More populist films she worked on at the time include Airport 1975 and Alfred Hitchcock’s final film, Family Plot.

Following her appearance in the 1975 ABC made-for-TV movie Trilogy Of Terror in which she played several parts, Black soon found herself in a number of genre films.

Below is a two-part interview the actress did with Charlie Rose back in 1986.

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About Rich Drees 6964 Articles
A film fan since he first saw that Rebel Blockade Runner fleeing the massive Imperial Star Destroyer at the tender age of 8 and a veteran freelance journalist with twenty years experience writing about film and pop culture. He is a member of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle.
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