Karen Black Dead at 74, Known for ‘Five Easy Pieces,’ ‘Nashville’

Karen Black Dead at 74, Known for 'Five Easy Pieces,' 'Nashville'

Actress turned to crowdfunding to raise money for her cancer treatments

Karen Black has died at 74.

Her husband, Stephen Eckelberry, confirmed the death on Facebook on Thursday. The actress, famous for her performances in "Five Easy Pieces" and "Easy Rider" and "Nashville," had been battling cancer for the last few years.

"It is with great sadness that I have to report that my wife and best friend, Karen Black has just passed away, only a few minutes ago," Eckelberry wrote. "Thank you all for all your prayers and love, they meant so much to her as they did to me."

See photos: 10 of Karen Black's Most Memorable Performances

Diagnosed with ampullary cancer in November 2010, the actress sought crowd-funding when her disease recurred in June 2012. Black's husband turned to the website GoFundMe.com to raise money to support a two-month clinical treatment in Europe for the actress.

Black was a major figure in the films of the 1970s. Born in Illinois in 1939, she had the good fortune to arrive on the Hollywood scene as the old studio order was fading and a new one — guided by a greater sense of permissiveness and narrative complexity — took its place.

She was not conventionally attractive, but in age where a gap-toothed Lauren Hutton could become a supermodel and actors like Al Pacino and Dustin Hoffman, whose ethnic looks would have doomed them to character roles, took their place as leading men, Black became a symbol of New Hollywood.

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Her films captured the zeitgeist of the period and her on-screen persona — slightly daffy, somewhat blue collar — was melded by the likes of Robert Altman, John Schlesinger, and Bob Rafelson.

Among her most famous roles was the pregnant girlfriend of Jack Nicholson's character in "Five Easy Pieces" (1971) for which she would receive an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

She would also play an aspiring actress in "Day of the Locusts" (1976), a country singer in "Nashville" (1975), a heroic flight attendent in "Airport 1975" (1974), a sexually confidant lover in "Portnoy's Complaint" (1973) and a kidnapper in Alfred Hitchcock's final film, "Family Plot" (1976).

In the 1980s, as the movie industry began to cast aside more personal filmmaking for more commercial blockbuster pictures, Black found herself moving to the horror genre, in movies such as "Trilogy of Terror" (1975), "Mirror Mirror" (1990) and "Children of the Night" (1991). Some of her later film roles included low-budget pictures like "My Suicidal Sweetheart" (2005) and "Curse of the Forty-Niner" (2002). According to IMDb, what should be her final film, "The Being Experience," starring Terrence Howard and Famke Janssen, is in post-production.