Thursday, August 8, 2013

RIP, Karen Black

Sad news today.

Actress Karen Black has succumbed to her long battle with cancer.  She was 74.

Most associated with the New Hollywood movement of the late 60s and early 70s, Black first gained notice for her small supporting role in Easy Rider (1969) before truly breaking out in the following year's Five Easy Pieces (1970), the film which also set Jack Nicholson's career on course.  Black would also star in Nicholson's directorial debut, the little seen Drive, He Said (1971), Robert Altman's Nashville (1975), in which she performs two of her own songs, and Family Plot (1976), which would be Alfred Hitchcock's final film.

Black was also a scream queen, starring in such varied horror and cult favorites like The Pyx (1973) along with Christopher Plummer, the well regarded TV movie Trilogy of Terror (1975), Burnt Offerings (1976) with Oliver Reed, Italian Jaws-rip-off Killer Fish (1979), Tobe Hooper's remake of Invaders from Mars (1986), and weird vampire movie Children of the Night (1991).

Here's supercut video of some of her career highlights, although Trilogy of Terror is suspiciously absent:

Karen Black was a sex symbol for her generation, but her screen image was also that of someone who was unstable, a little weird, and maybe even dangerous.  To me she seemed to convey the persona of a girl that you wouldn't want to bring home to mom, which of course plays right into what made her so damn appealing as an actress.  I've always loved her crazy eyes and nobody does crazy eyes like Karen Black.  She shall be missed.

Karen Black (1939-2013)

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