Karen Black, veteran and Academy Award-nominated actress who has been in roughly 200 works, passed away after battling ampullary cancer last month. She was 74.
Born Karen Blanche Ziegler on July 1, 1939 in Park Ridge, IL, she attended Northwestern University for a couple years before leaving for New York and studying under Lee Strasberg. From here started her acting career with stage performances and making her film debut in 1959 in The Prime Time.
During her career, Black received several top awards and nominations. For her role in the film Five Easy Pieces, she was nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Actress in a Supporting Role category, and won it from the Golden Globes, National Board of Review, and New York Film Critics Circle. She also won the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress for The Great Gatsby and nominated for The Day of the Locust in the Best Motion Picture Actress – Drama category. In the movie Nashville, she not only acted but wrote and performed songs, earning her a Grammy nomination.
Black’s films run the gamut from cult favorites to bona-fide classics. These also include Easy Rider; Airport 1975; Family Plot; House of 1000 Corpses; The Player; Trilogy of Terror; Drive, He Said; Burnt Offerings; You’re a Big Boy Now; The Pyx; In Praise of Older Women; Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean; Dixie Lanes; The Last Horror Film; Dogtown; Children of the Corn IV; I Woke Up Early the Day I Died; Gypsy 83; Fallen Arches; Invaders from Mars; Repo Chick; Club Fed; It’s Alive III; Some Guy Who Kills People; Firecracker; Dark Blood; Ooga Booga; and She Loves Me Not, which may be her final film.
She also made numerous television appearances on shows such as Law & Order: Criminal Intent; Saturday Night Live; Murder, She Wrote; Profiler; The Big Valley; Miami Vice; Party of Five; Mannix; The Hitchhiker; Faerie Tale Theatre; Rude Awakening; The Hunger; and Adam-12.
Black is survived by her husband Stephen Eckelberry and children Hunter Carson and Celine Eckelberry.