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 independent films in the 1970s. She received numerous accolades throughout her career, including three Golden Globe Award nominations, two of which she won, as well as an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.
A native of Illinois, Black studied acting in New York City and performed on Broadway before making her major film debut in Francis Ford Coppolas Youre a Big Boy Now (1966). She followed this with roles in Easy Rider (1969), Five Easy Pieces (1970), and The Great Gatsby (1974), for the latter two of which she won Golden Globe awards for Best Supporting Actress; her performance in Five Easy Pieces also garnered her an Academy Award nomination.
In 1975, she appeared in Dan Curtiss cult horror films Trilogy of Terror and Burnt Offerings; Robert Altmans Nashville, and The Day of the Locust, which earned her a third Golden Globe nomination. Other roles include Airport 1975 (1974), Alfred Hitchcocks Family Plot (1976), Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (1982), and Tobe Hoopers Invaders from Mars (1986).
In the 1990s, Black starred in a variety of arthouse and horror films, as well as writing her own screenplays before appearing in Rob Zombies House of 1000 Corpses (2003), which cemented her status as a cult horror icon. Black continued to star in low-profile films throughout the early 2000s, as well as working as a playwright before being diagnosed with ampullary cancer in 2010. She died of the disease in Santa Monica in August 2013. Blacks career spanned over 50 years, and includes nearly 200 film credits.