Karen Black, Versatile Character Actress, Dies at 74
Karen Black, an actress whose roles in several signature films of the late 1960s and ’70s included a prostitute who shared an LSD trip with the bikers played by Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda in Easy Rider and a waitress unhappily devoted to the alienated musician played by Jack Nicholson in Five Easy Pieces, died on [August 8, 2013] in Los Angeles. She was 74.
“She could be a Mount Holyoke senior intent on saving the whooping crane,” Tom Burke wrote in The New York Times in 1970, describing his first impression of her at her home in Hollywood. “What she really is, of course, is a splendid actress who literally turned herself into the tough, acid-tripping New Orleans whore of ‘Easy Rider,’ and then became Rayette Dipesto, the loving, mediocre and totally unforgettable waitress of ‘Five Easy Pieces,’ and if she is not those characters, not super-hip, neither is she just what she appears to be, waiting on this sunny terrace like a ripening apple. Oh, she is warm, accessible; she is also shrewd, worldly, changeable, a subtle comic, and something of a freak, a beautiful freak.”
(Source: The New York Times)