Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Greg Goodsell

8/9/2013 (3 years ago)

Catholic Online (

Frequent face on movie and TV screens loses battle with cancer

With her ski nose and slightly crossed eyes, actress Karen Black was not what you would call conventionally pretty. Even more amazing was the fact that movie and TV cameras would not take their gaze away from her. Nominated as Jack Nicholson's girlfriend for "Five Easy Pieces," Black would go on to play a stewardess forced to commandeer a jumbo jet in"Airport '75;" a harried apartment dweller matching wits with a reanimated Zuni fetish doll in "Trilogy of Terror;" a loving wife who literally throws herself into her housework in "Burnt Offerings;" the role that this writer remembers her the most for, aspiring singer and dancer Faye Greener in "Day of the Locust." Black has lost her ongoing battle with cancer at the age of 74.

Actress Karen Black has lost her ongoing battle with cancer at the age of 74.

Actress Karen Black has lost her ongoing battle with cancer at the age of 74.


By Greg Goodsell

Catholic Online (

8/9/2013 (3 years ago)

Published in Movies

Keywords: Karen Black, actress, movies, TV, Five Easy Pieces, Jack Nicholson, cancer

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "It is with great sadness that I have to report that my wife and best friend, Karen Black has just passed away, only a few minutes ago," her husband of 25 years, Stephen Eckelberry, wrote on Facebook. "Thank you all for all your prayers and love, they meant so much to her as they did to me." Eckelberry was Black's fourth husband, with whom she had a daughter. Black is also survived by her son from her third husband, actor-screenwriter L.M. Kit Carson.

Hailing from Chicago, Black had her breakthrough role in "Easy Rider" after performing for almost ten years. It is in that counter-culture classic that Black played "Karen" one of two prostitutes that bikers Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper pick up.

Black then played the put-upon girlfriend of Jack Nicholson, who played a piano-playing prodigy disguised as an oilfield roughneck. The classic diner scene is remembered by all who have seen it. It was for this role that Black was nominated for an Academy Award.

"'Five Easy Pieces' was really my first real movie," Black said, unable to attend a New York tribute screening of "Easy Rider" due to illness last April. "There was "Easy Rider," but in this, I had the leading lady role. Jack was so validating, he gave me so much support...Jack and I had profound respect for one another. He's a great man."

Black was inescapable as an actress in Seventies American cinema. She appeared in more than 200 TV shows and movies over the course of her nearly six-decade acting career. Many memorable roles included the brassy Myrtle Wilson in the Robert Redford version of "The Great Gatsby," and had memorable roles in "Portnoy's Complaint" and "Nashville."  She also played a slinky kidnapper in Alfred Hitchcock's final film "Family Plot."

This writer's favorite Karen Black performance is the 1975 adaptation of Nathaniel West's "The Day of the Locust" lack plays a naďve want-to-be actress in Depression Era Hollywood. She tends to her ailing salesman father (Burgess Meredith) and then hooks up with shy, retiring accountant Homer Simpson (Donald Sutherland) who sees as a "meal ticket." It all ends rather horribly .

Black would have a love-hate relationship with "Locust." When this writer approached her to autograph my "Day of the Locust" poster, she threw up her fingers in the sign of the cross, as if to ward off evil spirits. She later graciously autographed a photo of herself from that film, with one of her choice lines: "Hollywood parties - PUKE! Best to you, Greg."

Determined to work until she could no longer, Black took a few films that were beneath her talents. She was a frequent fixture on the Hollywood theater circuit.

"I would say that I have greatly enjoyed working in certain movies," Black told newspaper journalists. "And it's difficult for me to say that one has been better than another; it doesn't seem fair to me. I very much enjoyed doing 'Five Easy Pieces' as well as 'Nashville.' ...I have found a kind of serenity in working with Ivan Passer. And there are other wonderful experiences that I have had. So I am just very thankful for the life I have lived."


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'

Copyright 2016 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for SEPTEMBER 2016
Centrality of the Human Person: That each may contribute to the common good and to the building of a society that places the human person at the center.
Evangelization: Mission to Evangelize: That by participating in the Sacraments and meditating on Scripture, Christians may become more aware of their mission to evangelize.


More Movies

'I'm Not Ashamed' - Atheists slam faith-based Columbine massacre film Watch

Image of


Movies based on true stories come out every year - but of course the faith-based films get the most controversy, primarily from Atheist hate groups. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "I'm Not Ashamed" is a new faith-based film focused on the Columbine massacre that ... continue reading

Mark Wahlberg is set to play his most Catholic role ever Watch

Image of


Well-known Hollywood movie star and Catholic, Mark Wahlberg is gearing up for his most Catholic role ever. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Mark Wahlberg, alongside director David O Russell, is working on an inspirational biopic about Father Stuart Long, an American ... continue reading

'The Story of Christ' to be told in Virtual Reality Watch

Image of Imagine standing next to Christ while he delivers the Sermon on the Mount.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

A new film will allow people to experience the life of Christ in full virtual reality (VR). The new film aims to bring people closer to Christ by allowing them to experience key events in His life. LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - "Jesus VR - The Story of Christ" ... continue reading

JESUS RETURNS: A sequel to 'The Passion of the Christ' confirmed Watch

Image of Jim Caviezel as


Mel Gibson has confirmed a sequel to 'The Passion of the Christ' is coming. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - In an interview with evangelist Greg Laurie at SoCal Harvest at Angel Stadium, Gibson announced there would be a follow-up to the hit independent film. "Of ... continue reading

Inside scoop for latest Clint Eastwood film 'Sully' - An interview with writer Todd Komarnicki Watch

Image of Take a behind-the-scenes look at


Todd Komarnicki, a writer, producer and director, shares insight into the making of Clint Eastwood's "Sully," which saw a $35.5 million opening weekend. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Todd Komarnicki is known for writing scripts for "Perfect Stranger," "Sully," ... continue reading

Miracle on the Hudson - 'Sully' film review (NO SPOILERS) Watch

Image of A review of

By Nikki Crawford & Marisel Maldonado

The latest Clint Eastwood film, "Sully," will be released in theaters Friday, September 9. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "Sully" is based on the real story of Flight 1549, when Canadian geese flew into the U.S. Airways Airbus' engines.Both engines lost thrust and ... continue reading

The MUST-READ 2016 'Ben-Hur' Review (NO SPOLIERS) Watch

Image of


The 2016 "Ben-Hur" remake wows with an adrenaline-inducing chariot race and heartbreaking tale of betrayal. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The remake of classic film "Ben-Hur" maintains a similar story line as the 1959 version but portrays an updated version ... continue reading

Pope Francis blesses Ben-Hur actor and actors pull own stunts - Everything you need to know in tell-all exclusive interview with Roma Downey Watch

Image of Ben-Hur will be available nationwide in theaters August 19.


During an exclusive interview with Catholic Online, Hollywood film producer Roma Downey offered some behind-the-scenes insight to the upcoming film "Ben-Hur." LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Downey, who starred in the CBS series "Touched by an Angel," is an actress ... continue reading

Ben-Hur reimagined: Read the EXCLUSIVE interview with producer Roma Downey now! Watch

Image of Ben-Hur 2016.


Read the transcript of Roma Downey's exclusive interview with Catholic Online. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Downey was interviewed Friday, August 12 in regards to the remake of the cinema classic Ben-Hur.The 2016 release features the talents of Jack Huston and ... continue reading

What is a miracle? New film aims to explain the unexplainable Watch

Image of

By Tonia Borsellino (CNA)

For both skeptics and believers, miracles have captivated people's attention for thousands of years. Swansea, United Kingdom (CNA) - That same intrigue led St. Anthony Communications to produce their latest film, 'Miracles.'The 35-minute documentary is the first of a ... continue reading

All Movies News


Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ephesians 5:21-33
21 Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.22 ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 128:1-2, 3, 4-5
1 [Song of Ascents] How blessed are all who fear Yahweh, who walk in his ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 13:18-21
18 He went on to say, 'What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 25th, 2016 Image

St. Daria
October 25: There is very little known about them. ... Read More