Go Back  DVD Talk Forum > Entertainment Discussions > Movie Talk
Reload this Page >

'Five Easy Pieces' Actress Karen Black Dies at 74

Movie Talk A Discussion area for everything movie related including films In The Theaters

'Five Easy Pieces' Actress Karen Black Dies at 74

Old 08-08-13, 05:50 PM
  #1  
Moderator
Thread Starter
 
dex14's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 29,807
Received 91 Likes on 70 Posts
'Five Easy Pieces' Actress Karen Black Dies at 74

Karen Black, who stirred movie audiences in the late 1960s and ‘70s with her ripe performances in a series of cutting-edge, independent movies like Easy Rider, Five Easy Pieces and Nashville, died Thursday, her husband announced on his Facebook page. She was 74.

Black was diagnosed with ampullary cancer in November 2010 and had one-third of her pancreas removed. She had two more operations this year to minimize the cancer, and her husband, Stephen Eckelberry, said in March that she was “mostly bed-bound” and down to 96 pounds from 156. The couple turned to a crowd-funding website and raised tens of thousands of dollars to pay for an experimental treatment in Europe.

Black’s association with some of the era’s most original projects began with Easy Rider (1969), where she played a New Orleans prostitute who romps with bikers Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda and new friend Jack Nicholson near the end of their cross-country trek.

She then earned an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actress for her portrayal of a kind-hearted, small-town waitress in Five Easy Pieces (1970), a part that Nicholson recommended her for. Black also won a Golden Globe and a New York Film Critics award for her rich portrayal of dimwitted waitress Rayette Dipesto.

“You know, Rayette is not very smart, I don’t think you can play her,” Black, in 2011, recalled director Bob Rafelson telling her. “I said, ‘Let’s make a deal. When you say action, I’ll stop thinking.’ ”

Multi-talented and with an earthy sensuality that embodied the “Make Love, Not War” ethos of the era, Black was a natural for offbeat productions. She was part of the eclectic ensemble cast in Nashville (1975), Robert Altman’s inspired, Americana roundelay, and she composed and performed two songs for the film, “Memphis” and “Rolling Stone.” She was nominated for a Grammy.

She recalled meeting with Altman about another film.

“He said, ‘I’m doing a picture in the fall where everybody has to write their own country western music.’ And he said to come back and sing,” she remembered. “And I said, ‘I’ll sing now.’ And he said he could have a pianist or guitarist come tomorrow. And I said, ‘No, I’ll sing it now.’ ”

“I got up in front of the fireplace and sang. ‘Well I’d like to go to Memphis but I don’t know the way. And I’d love to tell you how I feel but I don’t know what to say.’ And he said, ‘You got the part. Welcome aboard.’ ”

In a career that spanned more than five decades, Black performed in a wide spectrum of movies, from seminal independent films to hackneyed horror fare.

During the peak of her popularity in the 1970s, Black’s roles capitalized on her voluptuous looks and adventurous persona. She won a Globe for best supporting actress for The Great Gatsby (1974) for her portrayal of an adulteress. In a similar use of her talents, Black played a promiscuous woman in the movie adaptation of Philip Roth’s sensational bestseller Portnoy’s Complaint.

Black’s career peaked in the mid-’70s when she played in an array of movies: She co-starred in Airport 1975 as a stewardess forced to fly the plane, then played in the popcorn actioner Capricorn One (1977).

More auspiciously, she performed in The Day of the Locust (1975), based on Nathanael West’s scabrous treatment of Hollywood. A year later, she played a black-hatted, blond-wigged kidnapper in Alfred Hitchcock's last film, Family Plot (1976).

In 1975, she starred as several characters in sections of Trilogy of Terror, an ABC movie of the week that was originally designed as a horror anthology series. The success of that triggered a rash of performances in such generic horror films as Burnt Offerings (1976) with Bette Davis, Killer Fish (1979), It’s Alive III (1987), Night Angel (1990), Children of the Night (1991), Dead Girls Don’t Tango (1992), Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering (1996), House of 1000 Corpses (2003), Some Guy Who Kills People (2011) and Dark Blood (2012).

“Scary movies I’ve done -- there have been about 14 out of 175. They are not dominant in any way, shape or form,” she told the Chicago Tribune in 2008. “I can tell you what happened, but it was sort of like a mistake. It’s like I went on a bad path and couldn’t find my way back.”

On TV, she guest-starred on numerous series, including The Big Valley, Mannix, Adam-12, Murder, She Wrote, Family Guy and Law & Order: Criminal Intent.

Black also wrote screenplays: She received credits on Men (1997) and Charades (1998), and she ventured into playwriting, penning Missouri Waltz, which was performed in 2007 at the Blank Theatre in Los Angeles.

Born Karen Blanche Ziegler in Park Ridge, Ill., on July 1, 1939, she dropped out of high school to marry but soon divorced. At 15, she enrolled at Northwestern University, where she studied drama for two years. She acted in summer stock and local productions, including a low-budget Chicago-based film, The Prime Time (1959).

She left school and moved to New York, where she toiled in a number of odd jobs while pursuing acting. In 1962, she was selected for a role in The Tempest as part of Joseph Papp’s New York Shakespeare Festival in Central Park. Also for Papp, she played Olivia in Twelfth Night at the Hechter Theatre.

She won notice for her singing when she speared in an off-Broadway musical, We’re Civilized? which spoofed Hollywood jungle movies.

She made her Broadway debut in 1961’s Take Her, She’s Mine, which starred Art Carney and Elizabeth Ashley, then appeared in The Playroom, playing a 15-year-old who instigates a kidnapping.

In the mid-’60s, Black moved to Los Angeles and had a role in You’re a Big Boy Now, directed by Francis Ford Coppola.

Her first TV dramatic performance was in 1967 in a segment of Run for Your Life, starring Ben Gazzara.

In Southern California, she also did theater, appearing with Jane Wyatt in The Decent Thing at the Pasadena Playhouse and in Tennessee Williams’ Camino Real at the Mark Taper Forum.

During the period, Black performed in the thriller film Hard Contract (1969) and in three movies in 1971: A Gunfight, Drive, He Said and Born to Win.

In 1973, she performed in The Outfit and The Pyx, where she played a hooker involved with devil worshipers. She also wrote the theme song and supporting songs for the film. During the period, she also ventured back to Broadway to play in Keep It in the Family.

In more offbeat projects, she played in Eugene Ionesco’s farcical Rhinoceros and in Ivan Passer’s Law and Disorder, both from 1974.

Black had four husbands, including fellow Trilogy of Terror actor Robert Burton and writer L.M. (Kit) Carson, with whom she had a son, Hunter.
Old 08-08-13, 06:00 PM
  #2  
DVD Talk Hall of Fame
 
riotinmyskull's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: portsmouth, va
Posts: 9,178
Likes: 0
Received 2 Likes on 2 Posts
Re: 'Five Easy Pieces' Actress Karen Black Dies at 74

very sad to hear this
Old 08-08-13, 06:41 PM
  #3  
DVD Talk Legend
 
islandclaws's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Behind the Orange Curtain
Posts: 20,083
Likes: 0
Received 2 Likes on 2 Posts
Re: 'Five Easy Pieces' Actress Karen Black Dies at 74

I never saw a single film of hers where I found her remotely attractive, but, damn, she was definitely a good actress.

Old 08-08-13, 06:45 PM
  #4  
DVD Talk Hero
 
inri222's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2001
Posts: 47,593
Likes: 0
Received 9 Likes on 9 Posts
Re: 'Five Easy Pieces' Actress Karen Black Dies at 74

Great actress

RIP
Old 08-08-13, 06:58 PM
  #5  
DVD Talk Legend
 
JumpCutz's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: south of heaven
Posts: 13,540
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Re: 'Five Easy Pieces' Actress Karen Black Dies at 74

RIP

Old 08-08-13, 07:43 PM
  #6  
DVD Talk Limited Edition
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Posts: 5,228
Likes: 0
Received 2 Likes on 2 Posts
Re: 'Five Easy Pieces' Actress Karen Black Dies at 74

I remember seeing the last part of Trilogy of Terror. Gave me nightmare.
Old 08-08-13, 09:18 PM
  #7  
DVD Talk Legend
 
Ash Ketchum's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 11,811
Received 18 Likes on 13 Posts
Re: 'Five Easy Pieces' Actress Karen Black Dies at 74

I saw 12 of her movies from 1969 to 1977, mostly in theaters when they came out, from EASY RIDER to CAPRICORN ONE and including FIVE EASY PIECES, CISCO PIKE, DAY OF THE LOCUST, AIRPORT '75, NASHVILLE and BURNT OFFERINGS.

But I haven't seen her in anything since CAPRICORN ONE.
Old 08-08-13, 09:23 PM
  #8  
DVD Talk Hall of Fame
 
Join Date: May 2001
Posts: 9,614
Received 1 Like on 1 Post
Re: 'Five Easy Pieces' Actress Karen Black Dies at 74

Remembered her fondly in "Airport '75" and "Trilogy of Terror" watching both as a kid. The latter giving me nightmares for weeks. I was forbidden by my parents to watch it. So of course, I did. Felt like a great episode of "The Twilight Zone" or "Night Gallery". ABC made some really good movie of the weeks during that time.

Last edited by Daytripper; 08-08-13 at 09:30 PM.
Old 08-08-13, 09:29 PM
  #9  
DVD Talk Limited Edition
 
MrSmearkase's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Ayer, MA
Posts: 5,258
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Re: 'Five Easy Pieces' Actress Karen Black Dies at 74



I figured it may not be long once she kickstarter'ed her cancer treatments.
Old 08-08-13, 09:29 PM
  #10  
Challenge Guru & Comic Nerd
 
Trevor's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: spiritually, Minnesota
Posts: 35,003
Received 28 Likes on 22 Posts
Re: 'Five Easy Pieces' Actress Karen Black Dies at 74

Trilogy of Terror is one of my favorites. Rest in peace Karen.
Old 08-08-13, 10:05 PM
  #11  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: Yeah, Florida
Posts: 562
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Re: 'Five Easy Pieces' Actress Karen Black Dies at 74

RIP, Karen
I thought she was great in one of her later films "Some Guy Who Kills People" and remember her fondly from "Airport 75", and many others from that era.
Old 08-08-13, 10:14 PM
  #12  
DVD Talk Hall of Fame
 
LiquidSky's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Pokey Dot Lounge, Nashville, TN
Posts: 9,177
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Re: 'Five Easy Pieces' Actress Karen Black Dies at 74



Old 08-08-13, 10:50 PM
  #13  
Banned
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: The lonely depths of my mind
Posts: 3,864
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Re: 'Five Easy Pieces' Actress Karen Black Dies at 74

Sucks that she died, though I had no idea of who she was. The only time I've ever heard about her was a short mention in a couple second scene in The Nanny.
Old 08-08-13, 11:24 PM
  #14  
Moderator
 
Geofferson's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: The Village Green
Posts: 39,220
Likes: 0
Received 2 Likes on 2 Posts
Re: 'Five Easy Pieces' Actress Karen Black Dies at 74

Been a fan since I fist saw her in the early Jack Nicholson movies. Big fan of The Pyx as well.
Old 08-09-13, 12:39 AM
  #15  
DVD Talk Special Edition
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Electric Ladyland
Posts: 1,041
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Re: 'Five Easy Pieces' Actress Karen Black Dies at 74

Yes, terrific actress and one of the most ubiquitous of 1970s. My favorite movie decade, so naturally I've seen most of her work from that decade. Several great and good films, but the one everyone is going to remember most vividly is Trilogy of Terror. That one was a showstopper.

I've seen very little of her in the decades since, although she apparently continued working steadily. Sad to hear, but increasingly not surprising to hear that actors of that generation passing on.
Old 08-09-13, 01:45 AM
  #16  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Austin, TX
Posts: 869
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Re: 'Five Easy Pieces' Actress Karen Black Dies at 74

Originally Posted by LiquidSky View Post


THIS X100

a definite top 10 of the 1970's for me.
Old 08-09-13, 01:46 AM
  #17  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Austin, TX
Posts: 869
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Re: 'Five Easy Pieces' Actress Karen Black Dies at 74

it's so coincidental that this morning, i decided to revisit Five Easy Pieces on a whim.
Old 08-09-13, 10:47 AM
  #18  
DVD Talk Platinum Edition
 
Greg MacGuffin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Formerly known as "Jeffy Pop"/Denver
Posts: 3,038
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Re: 'Five Easy Pieces' Actress Karen Black Dies at 74

Originally Posted by Spottedfeather View Post
Sucks that she died, though I had no idea of who she was. The only time I've ever heard about her was a short mention in a couple second scene in The Nanny.
That's not something to brag about.
Old 08-09-13, 11:23 AM
  #19  
DVD Talk Hall of Fame
 
Jaymole's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: N.Y, N.Y
Posts: 9,234
Likes: 0
Received 6 Likes on 4 Posts
Re: 'Five Easy Pieces' Actress Karen Black Dies at 74

Very sad news as I loved her work in the 1970's, as someone else mentioned, my favorite decade for film as well.

RIP

Originally Posted by Greg MacGuffin View Post
That's not something to brag about.
welcome to his ignore list.
Old 08-09-13, 11:34 AM
  #20  
DVD Talk Platinum Edition
 
Greg MacGuffin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Formerly known as "Jeffy Pop"/Denver
Posts: 3,038
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Re: 'Five Easy Pieces' Actress Karen Black Dies at 74

Originally Posted by Jaymole View Post
welcome to his ignore list.
Awesome, it's a privilege.

The facebook comment and profile picture at the bottom of this review tells me everything I need to know about the guy:
http://www.dvdtalk.com/reviews/61405...the-stone-the/
Old 08-09-13, 11:51 AM
  #21  
DVD Talk Hero
 
TomOpus's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Kansas City, MO
Posts: 34,014
Received 17 Likes on 15 Posts
Re: 'Five Easy Pieces' Actress Karen Black Dies at 74

Originally Posted by islandclaws View Post
I never saw a single film of hers where I found her remotely attractive, but, damn, she was definitely a good actress.

Must just be me but I found her very attractive, especially those eyes.
Old 08-09-13, 12:19 PM
  #22  
DVD Talk Hero
 
inri222's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2001
Posts: 47,593
Likes: 0
Received 9 Likes on 9 Posts
Re: 'Five Easy Pieces' Actress Karen Black Dies at 74

Old 08-09-13, 12:29 PM
  #23  
DVD Talk Hall of Fame
 
riotinmyskull's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: portsmouth, va
Posts: 9,178
Likes: 0
Received 2 Likes on 2 Posts
Re: 'Five Easy Pieces' Actress Karen Black Dies at 74

Originally Posted by TomOpus View Post
Must just be me but I found her very attractive, especially those eyes.
i always thought she had a great body but her face/eyes were a tad wonky for me.
Old 08-09-13, 01:01 PM
  #24  
DVD Talk Godfather
 
Giantrobo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: South Bay
Posts: 57,694
Received 17 Likes on 13 Posts
Re: 'Five Easy Pieces' Actress Karen Black Dies at 74

My first exposure to her was "Trilogy of Terror" as a young kid. I still have the end scene image of her in my head.

RIP....
Old 08-09-13, 01:38 PM
  #25  
Moderator
 
story's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Hope.
Posts: 9,166
Received 36 Likes on 29 Posts
Re: 'Five Easy Pieces' Actress Karen Black Dies at 74

A friend of mine did a little movie with Karen Black last decade and she told me that Karen was one of the most gracious actors she had ever met. Told stories of back-in-the-day when asked, was professional, and so on. Those are the sorts of stories one likes to hear about people of whom we usually only see their public face.

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information

Copyright © 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.