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Karen Black, Oscar-nominated actress and cult horror film icon, dies at 74 (videos)

Obit Karen Black

Marty Lederhandler/AP

Dec. 29, 1981: Director Robert Altman, right, poses with actresses, from left, Karen Black, Sandy Dennis and Cher in New York City.

Karen Black

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Actress Karen Black (1973)

US-AFI FEST-PREMIERE-HITCHCOCK

ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

Actor Peter Fonda greets actress Karen Black at the world premiere of 'Hitchcock' at the AFI FEST 2012 presented by Audi, at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, California November 1, 2012.

AFI FEST 2012 Presented By Audi - "Hitchcock" Premiere - Arrivals

Jason Merritt/Getty Images for AFI

Actress Karen Black arrives at the premiere of "Hitchcock" during AFI Fest 2012 presented by Audi at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on November 1, 2012 in Hollywood, California.

Actress Karen Black arrives at the recep

AFP/AFP/Getty Images

Actress Karen Black arrives at the reception celebrating the release of the limited edition fine art photography of Alan Cumming in Los Angeles, California, on April 5, 2012.

Obit Karen Black

Joe Kohen/AP

President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Tom Sherak and actress Karen Black are seen during "Keeping the Promise," presented by California Disabled Veterans Business Alliance at Marriott Hotel in Los Angeles. The “Easy Rider” and “Five Easy Pieces” star Black, 74, has died. Black’s husband, Stephen Eckelberry, says the actress died Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2013, after battling cancer.


Karen Black, the prolific actress who appeared in nearly 200 films, including counterculture classics "Easy Rider," ''Five Easy Pieces" and "Nashville," has died at age 74, the Associated Press reports.

Black's husband, Stephen Eckelberry, says the actress died  from complications from cancer. The Wrap reports that Eckelberry confirmed the death on Facebook, saying:

"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," Eckelberry wrote. "Thank you all for all your prayers and love, they meant so much to her as they did to me."

Black's professional breakthrough was as a prostitute who takes LSD with Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda in 1969's "Easy Rider," the hippie classic that helped get her the role of Rayette Dipesto, a waitress who dates — and is mistreated by — an upper-class dropout played by Jack Nicholson in 1970's "Five Easy Pieces."

Over the next few decades, Black transitioned into more cult idol than major Hollywood star in horror films like "Trilogy of Terror" and "House of 1,000 Corpses." She suggested in an interview with VICE Magazine that she was less than thrilled about being known as a horror queen, an association that led to a punk band naming itself "The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black."

Deadline reported in March that Black's husband had turned to crowdfunding the beloved actress' cancer treatment, raising over $60,000, nearly twice the goal amount, via GoFundMe.com.

The campaign "Help Karen Beat Cancer" detailed the limits of her medical insurance, their hope for a European clinical study, and the progression of her illness:

Karen was diagnosed with ampullary cancer in November of 2010. She immediately had the “Whipple,” one of the most serious operations that is performed at the Mayo clinic were she had it done– a third of her pancreas was removed. This was followed by extensive chemo and radiation back home at UCLA ... by December 2011 a small tumor developed and another surgery was in order...in June 2012, the cancer came back...she went to Cedar Sinai in Los Angeles and had two operations in January and February to freeze the tumor in her lower back that by then had grown to be four pounds...she now weighs 96 pounds. 

Easy Rider - Dropping Acid 

VICE meets Karen Black at her L.A. home

Trilogy of Terror - "The one with the doll, Part 1"

Burnt Offerings (1976) w/Karen Black and Oliver Reed 

Burnt Offerings - Bette Davis & Karen Black are having a little discussion

Karen Black singing - SNL (1975)

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