Actress Karen Black, best known for her roles in classic counterculture films like “Easy Rider” and “Five Easy Pieces,” has died after a years-long battle with cancer. She was 74.
Her husband, Steve Eckleberry, announced the news on Facebook Thursday evening. Just a day earlier, Eckleberry wrote that Black’s condition had rapidly deteriorated in recent weeks, leading to frequent hospital visits and bed rests. Black was diagnosed with ampullary cancer of the stomach in 2010.
“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.”
Over her career, Black appeared in more than 100 films. She worked tirelessly, oftentimes appearing in several films each year from the late 1960s until 2009. Her appearance in the 1969 counterculture classic “Easy Rider” is widely considered her breakout role. Black portrayed a New Orleans prostitute who dropped acid with Jack Nicholson and Peter Fonda on their motorcycle journey across America.
Black worked with Nicholson several more times in the following years, appearing together in 1970’s “Five Easy Pieces.” The following year, Black starred in Nicholson’s first directoral effort, “Drive, He Said.” Throughout the 1970s, Black appeared in films such as “Nashville,” “Portnoy's Complaint” and Alfred Hitchcock’s final film, “Family Plot.”
In 1974, Black was nominated for a Golden Globe following her portrayal of Myrtle Wilson in the film adaptation of “The Great Gatsby.”
Watch Black’s famous scene in “Easy Rider” below.