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Actress Karen Black died in Los Angeles yesterday at the age of 74, from complications of cancer. The Hollywood legend was known for roles in seminal '70s movies, as well as her lengthy horror and indie credits.
Black made the most of a pivotal scene in "Easy Rider" as one of the women who drops acid in the St. Louis Cemetery with the doomed bikers played by Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper. The tripped-out sex scene to follow is an unforgettable foray into the darker side of the hippie era. She also stunned in "Five Easy Pieces," opposite Jack Nicholson (who was in "Easy Rider"), and later starred in his feature-length directorial debut "Drive, He Said."
Two years after "Five Easy Pieces," Black appeared in "Portnoy's Complaint" as the protagonist's girlfriend, Mary Jane Reid -- the sort of gentile girlfriend that's a staple of author Philip Roth's novels. She also played a country singer named Connie White in Robert Altman's "Nashville," and appeared in Alfred Hitchcock's last film, "Family Plot."
Black was known for her foray into the weirder side of cinema as well, with roles in cult favorite "Rubin and Ed," with Crispin Glover, and "House of 1000 Corpses" by Rob Zombie.
Black is survived by her fourth husband, Stephen Eckelberry; her son Hunter; two daughters, Celine and Diane; a sister and brother; four grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
Eckelberry announced Black's passing on his Facebook page, writing, "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. Thank you all for all your prayers and love, they meant so much to her as they did to me."
[via NY Times, Facebook]