50 Facts About Karen Black


Karen Blanche Black was an American actress, screenwriter, singer, and songwriter.


Karen Black 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.


Karen Black's career spanned over 50 years and includes nearly 200 credits in both independent and mainstream films.


Karen Black performed on Broadway in 1965 before making her major film debut in Francis Ford Coppola's You're a Big Boy Now.


Karen Black relocated to California and was cast as an LSD-tripping prostitute in Dennis Hopper's road film Easy Rider.


Karen Black made her first major commercial picture with the disaster film Airport 1975, and her subsequent appearance as Myrtle Wilson in The Great Gatsby won her a second Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress.


Karen Black starred as a glamorous country singer in Robert Altman's ensemble musical drama Nashville, writing and performing two songs for the soundtrack, for which she received a nomination for a Grammy Award.


Karen Black subsequently took on four roles in Dan Curtis's anthology horror film Trilogy of Terror, followed by Curtis's supernatural horror feature, Burnt Offerings.


For much of the late 1980s and 1990s, Karen Black starred in a variety of arthouse, independent, and horror films, as well as writing her own screenplays.


Karen Black had a leading role as a villainous mother in Rob Zombie's House of 1000 Corpses, which cemented her status as a cult horror icon.


Karen Black 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.


Karen Black had two siblings: a sister and a brother.


Karen Black gave the child up for adoption at birth, though she did reconnect with her in the final years of her life.


Karen Black worked as an understudy in the Broadway production of Take Her, She's Mine in December 1961 under director George Abbott.


Karen Black made her formal Broadway debut in 1965's The Playroom, which received favorable reviews and for which she was nominated for a New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for Best Actress.


Karen Black won a New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in the film.


Karen Black had a supporting role as the girlfriend of a heroin addict in Born to Win opposite George Segal and Robert De Niro, followed by a role in Jack Nicholson's directorial debut, Drive, He Said, as a promiscuous faculty wife; and the Western A Gunfight, opposite Kirk Douglas and Johnny Cash, in which she portrayed a saloon barmaid.


Karen Black followed these roles with a part in Cisco Pike opposite Kris Kristofferson and Gene Hackman, and subsequently played a foul-mouthed fashion model in Portnoy's Complaint.


Karen Black had a lead role opposite Christopher Plummer in the Canadian-produced horror film The Pyx, playing a prostitute embroiled in a series of occult murders, and later appeared in The Outfit with Robert Duvall.


Karen Black had the titular role of Laura in the crime film Little Laura and Big John, playing a runaway moll of the Ashley gang, a film which "aped" the success of Bonnie and Clyde.


Karen Black subsequently portrayed an unfaithful wife, Myrtle Wilson, in the 1974 version of The Great Gatsby, a performance that earned her a second Golden Globe Award in the same category.


Karen Black received her third Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress for her role as an aspiring starlet in 1930s Hollywood in John Schlesinger's tragic drama The Day of the Locust.


In 1976, Karen Black appeared as a femme fatale jewel thief Alfred Hitchcock's final film, Family Plot.


In September 1976, Karen Black traveled to Toronto to be a guest star on the popular variety program The Bobby Vinton Show, which aired across the United States and Canada.


Karen Black shared her singing talents performing "Lonely Now", and joined Bobby in a medley of country oldies.


Karen Black played a dual role in the 1977 made-for-television thriller, The Strange Possession of Mrs Oliver, followed by a minor role in Capricorn One opposite Elliott Gould.


In 1979, Karen Black appeared in the controversial drama In Praise of Older Women, playing a middle-aged woman who has an affair with a 17-year-old boy.


Karen Black subsequently starred in the drama Killing Heat, based on Doris Lessing's 1950 novel The Grass Is Singing, which focused on race relations in South Africa in the 1960s; in the film, Black portrayed an urban woman who relocates to a rural farm with her husband.


Karen Black appeared as Emilienne d'Alencon in the French film Chanel Solitaire, a biographical feature detailing the early life of Coco Chanel.


In 1982, Karen Black starred opposite Cher and Sandy Dennis in a Robert Altman-directed Broadway production of Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean.


Karen Black subsequently co-starred with Cher and Dennis in Altman's film adaptation, released in 1982.


Karen Black starred in several feature films in 1985, including the Italian exploitation horror film Cut and Run, directed by Ruggero Deodato; the Canadian supernatural horror film The Blue Man; and the action film Savage Dawn, co-starring with Lance Henriksen as a kidnappee.


In 1986, Karen Black co-starred with her son, Hunter, in Tobe Hooper's science fiction horror film Invaders from Mars.


Karen Black had a supporting role as a mutant's mother in Larry Cohen's horror sequel It's Alive III: Island of the Alive, and in the youth-themed comedy The Invisible Kid.


Karen Black co-starred with Jim Belushi and Whoopi Goldberg in Homer and Eddie, a comedy about a woman with a psychologically-impairing brain tumor, and a mentally-challenged man.


Karen Black had roles in the British comedy Rubin and Ed, the martial arts film The Roller Blade Seven, and a cameo in Robert Altman's The Player.


Karen Black reprised her role from The Roller Blade Seven in its 1992 and 1993 sequels, and appeared in the direct-to-video comedy The Double 0 Kid, with Corey Haim and Nicole Eggert.


Also in 1993, Karen Black had a supporting role in George Sluizer's drama Dark Blood opposite River Phoenix and Judy Davis, a film that remained incomplete and unreleased for two decades after Phoenix died during the production.


In 1996, Karen Black appeared as a paranoid mother in small-town Nebraska in Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering, opposite Naomi Watts.


Karen Black had supporting roles in a number of other independent films that year, including as a public defender in Ulli Lommel's drama Every Minute is Goodbye, and the exploitation comedy Dinosaur Valley Girls.


Karen Black had supporting roles in the independent drama Men, and as a singer in rural Missouri in George Hickenlooper's Dogtown.


Karen Black continued to star in numerous independent features in 1998, including the camp comedy I Woke Up Early the Day I Died, the drama Charades, as well as the short film Waiting for Dr MacGuffin.


In 2000, Karen Black began filming Rob Zombie's directorial debut House of 1000 Corpses, in which she portrayed Mother Firefly, the matron of a family of psychotic murderers.


In March 2005, Karen Black received the Best Actress Award at the Fantasporto International Film Festival in Porto, Portugal, for her work in the critically acclaimed Steve Balderson film Firecracker, in which she played two roles, Sandra and Eleanor.


Karen Black launched a career as a playwright in May 2007 with the opening of Missouri Waltz at the Blank Theater in Los Angeles; Karen Black starred in the play as well.


Karen Black starred in John Landis' 2010 thriller Some Guy Who Kills People, as well as Aida Ruilova's surrealist short film Meet the Eye.


Later that year, Karen Black appeared on Cass McCombs' song "Dreams-Come-True-Girl" from the album Catacombs.


Karen Black had a portion of her pancreas removed that year and underwent two further operations.


Karen Black was very open to the reunion and welcomed Diane into her family.


Karen Black managed to play all the different ways of human nature.