Image of Karen Black

Karen Black

Karen Blanche Black (née Ziegler; July 1, 1939 – August 8, 2013) was an American actress, screenwriter, singer, and songwriter. She rose to prominence for her work in various studio and independent films in the 1970s, frequently portraying eccentric and offbeat characters, and established herself as a figure of New Hollywood. Her career spanned over 50 years and includes nearly 200 credits in both independent and mainstream films. Black received numerous accolades throughout her career, including two Golden Globe Awards, as well as an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. A native of suburban Chicago, Black studied theater at Northwestern University before dropping out and relocating to New York City. She performed on Broadway in 1965 before making her major film debut in Francis Ford Coppola's You're a Big Boy Now (1966). Black relocated to California and was cast as an acid-tripping prostitute in Dennis Hopper's road film Easy Rider (1969). That led to a lead in the drama Five Easy Pieces (1970), in which she played a hopeless beautician, for which she was nominated for an Academy Award and won a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress. Black made her first major commercial picture with the disaster film Airport 1975 (1974), and her subsequent appearance as Myrtle Wilson in The Great Gatsby (1974) won her a second Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress. Black starred as a glamorous country singer in Robert Altman's ensemble musical drama Nashville (1975), also writing and performing two songs for the soundtrack, which won a Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack. Her portrayal of an aspiring actress in John Schlesinger's drama The Day of the Locust (also 1975) earned her a third Golden Globe nomination, this time for Best Actress. She subsequently took on four roles in Dan Curtis' anthology horror film Trilogy of Terror (1975), followed by Curtis's supernatural horror feature, Burnt Offerings (1976). The same year, she starred as a con artist in Alfred Hitchcock's final film, Family Plot. In 1982, Black starred as a trans woman in the Robert Altman-directed Broadway debut of Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean, a role she also reprised in Altman's subsequent film adaptation. She next starred in the comedy Can She Bake a Cherry Pie? (1983), followed by Tobe Hooper's remake of Invaders from Mars (1986). For much of the late 1980s and 1990s, Black starred in a variety of arthouse, independent, and horror films, as well as writing her own screenplays. She had a leading role as a villainous mother in Rob Zombie's House of 1000 Corpses (2003), which cemented her status as a cult horror icon. She continued to star in low-profile films throughout the early 2000s, as well as working as a playwright before her death from ampullary cancer in 2013. Description above from the Wikipedia article Karen Black, licensed under CC-BY-SA, full list of contributors on Wikipedia. ​

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Jul 1, 1939 In Park Ridge, Illinois, USA
Movie/TV Credits:
First Appeared:
In the movie The Prime Time 1960-04-01
Latest Project:
Movie Deadly Dolls: Deepest Cuts 2018-10-01
Known For
Poster of Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief
Poster of WAMEGO: Making Movies Anywhere
Poster of Rubin & Ed
Poster of Easy Rider
Movie Deadly Dolls: Deepest Cuts Unknown 2018-10-01
Movie Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief Herself (archive footage) 2015-01-25
Movie Bottomless Pit Karen Black 2015-10-21
Movie Wild in Blue Justine 2014-05-05
Movie She Loves Me Not Karla 2013-06-09
Movie Ooga Booga Mrs. Allardyce 2013-03-12
Movie Mommy's Little Monster Mrs. Melnick 2012-01-01
Movie Oowie Wanna The Donna 2012-02-18
Movie Dark Blood Motel Woman 2012-09-27
Movie Maria My Love Maria 2012-04-17
Movie Some Guy Who Kills People Ruth Boyd 2011-04-14
Movie Letters from the Big Man Sean's Colleague 2011-11-11
Movie Nothing Special May 2010-01-01
Movie BBStory: An American Film Renaissance Herself 2010-11-23
Movie Henry Jaglom Finds a Safe Place Herself 2010-11-23
Movie Irene in Time Sheila Shivvers 2009-06-19
Movie Repo Chick Aunt de la Chasse 2009-09-09
Movie No Subtitles Necessary: Laszlo & Vilmos Herself 2009-01-11
Movie Stuck! Unknown 2009-11-15
Movie Double Duty Annabelle 2009-12-08
Movie Watercolors Mrs. Martin 2008-06-07
Movie Contamination Maxis 2008-05-01
Movie A Single Woman Storyteller 2008-09-21
Movie Dead Girls Don't Tango Insp. Wilson 2007-03-06
Movie Ghost Writer Renee 2007-03-09
Movie One Long Night Barbara 2007-03-25
Movie Hollywood Dreams Luna 2007-05-25
Movie Whitepaddy Mrs. Leider 2006-01-01
Movie Wanderlust Herself 2006-07-12
Movie Read You Like a Book Kate 2006-10-01
Movie Nightmare Hostel Molly 2005-01-01
Movie Trailer for a Remake of Gore Vidal's Caligula Agrippina 2005-06-15
Movie Firecracker Sandra / Eleanor 2005-10-11
Movie America Brown Marianne Brown 2005-10-28
Movie WAMEGO: Making Movies Anywhere Self 2004-06-18
Movie Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex, Drugs and Rock 'N' Roll Generation Saved Hollywood Herself 2003-03-09
Movie Paris Chantelle 2003-06-06
Movie House of 1000 Corpses Mother Firefly 2003-04-11
Movie Harold Buttleman: Daredevil Stuntman Mrs. Buttleman 2003-05-08
Movie Teknolust Dirty Dick 2002-01-01
Movie A Light in the Darkness Mrs. Melnick 2002-01-01
Movie Best of Tromadance Film Festival: Volume 1 ("Los Vampirios Moronious" short) 2002-02-19
Movie Curse of the Forty-Niner Aunt Nelly 2002-01-01
Movie Gypsy 83 Bambi LeBleau 2001-01-01
Movie Plotting 'Family Plot' Herself 2001-03-06
Movie Soulkeeper Martha la Magnifica 2001-01-01
Series Law & Order: Criminal Intent Unknown 2001-09-30
Movie The Donor Mrs. Springle 2001-04-13
Movie Oliver Twisted Mrs. Mary Happ 2000-01-01
Movie Red Dirt Aunt Summer 2000-03-17
Movie The Independent Herself 2000-11-10
Movie Paradise Cove Ma 1999-01-01
Series Family Guy Unknown 1999-01-31
Movie Easy Rider: Shaking the Cage Herself 1999-10-07
Movie Conceiving Ada Lady Byron / Mother Coer 1999-02-19
Movie Mascara Aunt Eloise 1999-05-07
Movie Fallen Arches Lucy Romano 1998-01-01
Movie Light Speed High Priestess 1998-01-01
Movie Invisible Dad Courtney Whitmer 1998-03-24
Movie I Woke Up Early the Day I Died Whip Lady 1998-09-13
Movie Angel Blue Social Worker 1998-11-15
Movie Charades Jude 1998-12-17
Movie Stir Dr. Gabrielle Kessler 1997-07-01
Series The Hunger Unknown 1997-07-20
Movie Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering June Rhodes 1996-10-08
Series E! True Hollywood Story Unknown 1996-03-29
Movie Cries of Silence Rose Walsh 1996-05-01
Movie Dogtown Rose Van Horn 1996-10-01
Movie Crimetime Millicent 1996-08-01
Movie Starstruck Bertha 1995-01-01
Movie Dinosaur Valley Girls Ro-Kell 1995-01-01
Movie Plan 10 from Outer Space Nehor 1995-01-01
Movie The Wacky Adventures of Dr. Boris and Nurse Shirley Evelyn 1995-03-01
Movie Born to Be Wild: The Story of Easy Rider Interviewee 1995-01-01
Movie Too Bad About Jack Unknown 1994-01-01
Movie Fertile La Toyah Video Magazine #2: The Kinky Issue! Unknown 1994-01-01
Movie The Trust Maria Vandermeer 1993-04-23
Movie Return of the Roller Blade Seven Tarot 1993-04-15
Movie Legend of The Roller Blade Seven Tarot 1993-06-25
Series Tales of the City Herself 1993-09-28
Series Moon Over Miami Unknown 1993-09-15
Movie Bound and Gagged: A Love Story Carla 1993-10-22
Movie The Player Karen Black 1992-04-03
Movie Tuesday Never Comes Michelle 1992-05-17
Movie Final Judgement Mrs. Sorrel 1992-01-01
Movie Judgement Unknown 1992-08-05
Movie Auntie Lee's Meat Pies Auntie Lee 1992-10-21
Movie The Double 0 Kid Mrs. Elliot 1992-09-07
Movie Rubin & Ed Rula 1991-01-01
Movie Caged Fear Blanche 1991-01-01
Movie The Killers Edge Barrett 1991-04-12
Movie Ralph S. Mouse Miss Kuchenbacker 1991-02-16
Movie Children of the Night Karen Thompson 1991-09-06
Movie Quiet Fire Kim Martino 1991-10-31
Movie The Roller Blade Seven Tarot 1991-09-06
Movie Zapped Again! Substitute Teacher 1990-04-14
Movie Fatal Encounter Joan Caldwell 1990-01-01
Movie Overexposed Mrs. Trowbridge 1990-01-01
Movie The Children Sybil Lullmer 1990-05-18
Movie Evil Spirits Ella Purdy 1990-01-01
Movie Twisted Justice Mrs. Granger 1990-09-27
Movie Night Angel Rita 1990-06-02
Movie Mirror Mirror Susan Gordon 1990-10-19
Movie Club Fed Sally Rich 1990-08-09
Movie Haunting Fear Dr. Julia Harcourt 1990-08-01
Movie Homer and Eddie Belle 1989-08-17
Movie The Invisible Kid Mom 1988-01-01
Movie The Legendary Life of Ernest Hemingway Martha Gelhorn 1988-01-01
Movie Dixie Lanes Zelma Putnam 1988-05-03
Movie Out of the Dark Ruth Wilson 1988-06-02
Movie It's Alive III: Island of the Alive Ellen Jarvis 1987-01-01
Movie Hostage Laura Lawrence 1987-10-01
Movie The Little Mermaid Sea Witch 1987-04-06
Movie Invaders from Mars Linda Magnusson 1986-01-01
Movie Flight of the Spruce Goose Gloria 1986-01-17
Movie Savage Dawn Rachel 1985-01-01
Movie Eternal Evil Janus 1985-01-04
Movie Cut and Run Karin 1985-08-08
Movie Martin's Day Unknown 1985-02-22
Series E/R Unknown 1984-09-16
Series Miami Vice Unknown 1984-09-16
Movie Growing Pains Gladys Fitzpatrick 1984-11-11
Series Murder, She Wrote Unknown 1984-09-30
Movie Can She Bake A Cherry Pie? Zee 1983-09-10
Series The Hitchhiker Unknown 1983-11-01
Movie Miss Right Amy 1982-01-01
Series Faerie Tale Theatre Sea Witch 1982-09-11
Movie Come Back to the 5 & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean Joanne 1982-11-12
Movie The Last Horror Film Herself (uncredited) 1982-10-09
Movie Chanel Solitaire Emilienne d'Alençon 1981-01-01
Movie Separate Ways Valentine Colby 1981-05-01
Movie Killing Heat Mary Turner 1981-08-30
Movie Power Rose Vanda-Buchanan 1980-01-14
Movie Police Story: Confessions of a Lady Cop Investigator Evelyn Carter 1980-04-28
Movie Mr. Horn Ernestina Crawford 1979-02-01
Movie The Last Word Paula Herbert 1979-01-01
Movie Killer Fish Kate Neville 1979-12-07
Movie In Praise Of Older Women Maya 1978-09-22
Movie Because He's My Friend Anne 1978-06-11
Movie The Squeeze Clarisse Saunders 1978-10-25
Movie The Strange Possession of Mrs. Oliver Miriam Oliver / Sandy 1977-02-28
Movie Capricorn One Judy Drinkwater 1977-12-10
Movie Crime and Passion Susan Winters 1976-02-06
Movie Burnt Offerings Marian Rolf 1976-10-18
Movie Family Plot Fran 1976-04-09
Movie Trilogy of Terror Julie / Millicent Larimore / Therese Larimore / Amelia 1975-03-04
Movie The Day of the Locust Faye Greener 1975-05-07
Series Saturday Night Live Unknown 1975-10-11
Movie Nashville Connie White 1975-06-11
Movie Rhinoceros Daisy 1974-01-21
Movie The Great Gatsby Myrtle Wilson 1974-03-27
Movie Airport 1975 Nancy Pryor 1974-10-18
Movie Law and Disorder Gloria 1974-10-09
Series Police Story Unknown 1973-03-20
Movie Little Laura and Big John Laura 1973-05-03
Movie The Outfit Bett Harrow 1973-10-01
Movie The Pyx Elizabeth Lucy 1973-09-08
Movie Portnoy's Complaint Mary Jane Reid 1972-06-19
Movie Cisco Pike Sue 1972-01-14
Series Circle of Fear Unknown 1972-09-15
Movie Drive, He Said Olive 1971-06-13
Movie A Gunfight Jenny Simms 1971-08-25
Movie Born to Win Parm 1971-12-01
Movie Five Easy Pieces Rayette Dipesto 1970-09-12
Movie Hard Contract Ellen 1969-04-30
Movie Easy Rider Karen 1969-05-07
Series Adam-12 Unknown 1968-09-21
Series Judd for the Defense Unknown 1967-09-08
Series The Invaders Claudia Stone 1967-01-10
Series The Carol Burnett Show Unknown 1967-09-11
Series Mannix Unknown 1967-09-16
Movie You're a Big Boy Now Amy Partlett 1966-09-09
Series Run for Your Life Unknown 1965-09-13
Series The F.B.I. Unknown 1965-09-19
Series The Big Valley Unknown 1965-09-15
Movie The Prime Time Betty 1960-04-01