Saturday, August 10, 2013
Karen Black (1939 - 2013)
As I have said before going to the cinema on Friday nights played a very important part of my teenage years, Friday nights were 'lads nights out' whilst taking your girlfriend to the cinema usually occurred on a Saturday afternoon (so they could do some shopping beforehand). Most of the stars of 1970's cinema seemed to be men, there were exceptions: Faye Dunaway, Diane Keaton, the peerless Charlotte Rampling and the actress with the most startling eyes and mesmeric stare I had ever seen, Karen Black.
Black stole almost every scene she was in even though she was rarely the lead, think of the films Easy Rider and particularly Five Easy Pieces and whilst it's true that Jack Nicholson is the first person you think of Black is not far behind, he role as Rayette in Five Easy Pieces is one of the most watchable performances of the seventies. What she managed to do, without having to go down the route of method acting, was bring life and realism to female roles that were often clearly written by men who had very little idea of what women's roles should be, whether in film or even the bigger picture (no pun intended) in society.
Black wasn't just a talented actress, she also wrote screenplays and she composed the two songs she sang in Robert Altman's 1975 film Nashville.
After being diagnosed with cancer in 2012 Karen Black stopped working and, apart from a few messages on a well known social network site from her husband regarding her illness, she remained out of the public eye until her death on Thursday.
You realise how quickly time is passing by when each week seems to bring obit. notices of those you grew up admiring and who formed such an important role in your formative years. Fortunately in an era of wall to wall television, DVD's and endless re-runs we can enjoy the performances of those who are no longer with us.
Posted by Paul at 9:39 AM