Susan Anspach, ‘Five Easy Pieces’ Actress, Dies at 75

Anspach also appeared in the original off-Broadway production of “Hair”

Susan Anspach in Five Easy Pieces
Columbia Pictures Corporation

Actress Susan Anspach, best known for roles in landmark 1970s films like “Five Easy Pieces” and “Play It Again, Sam,” has died in Los Angeles. She was 75.

Her son, Caleb Goddard, announced the news on Thursday, telling the New York Times she died from coronary failure Monday.

Born in New York City in 1942, Anspach attended Catholic University and began her acting career in the early 1960s. In 1965, she appeared in the off-Broadway production of Arthur Miller’s “A View From the Bridge” alongside Robert Duvall and Jon Voight. She also appeared on Broadway in Terrence McNally’s “And Things That Go Bump in the Night,” and in 1966 off-Broadway alongside Dustin Hoffman in Turgenev’s “The Journey of the Fifth Horse.”

In 1967, she played the character Sheila in the off-Broadway production of “Hair” immediately prior to the musical’s Broadway production, though Anspach did not continue the role on Broadway.

Anspach rose to prominence in movies in 1970, making her film debut with a small role in Hal Ashby’s “The Landlord.” The same year she had a more significant role opposite Jack Nicholson in “Five Easy Pieces.”

She went on to play Woody Allen’s ex-wife in 1972’s “Play It Again, Sam,” and hold a starring role in Paul Mazursky’s “Blume in Love” (1973).

Other film credits include “The Big Fix” (1978) with Richard Dreyfuss, “The Devil and Max Devlin” (1981) with Elliott Gould and Bill Cosby, the 1981 comedy “Gas,” and “Wild About Harry” (2009) with Tate Donovan. Anspach also played Dabney Coleman’s ex-wife in ABC’s 1987-88 ABC comedy “Slap Maxwell.”

Anspach was married to actor Mark Goddard from 1970-78 and to musician Sherwood Ball from 1982-88. She’s survived by Caleb Goddard (her son with Jack Nicholson), and her daughter, Catherine.