Oscar Actors: Black, Karen–Screen Image, Quintessential Actress of the 1970s

July 27, 2020

Karen Black  was a quintessential actress of the 1970s. She was not pretty, but has strong presence and her unconventional looks and emotional intensity and acting range made her desirable by major directors of the decade, even is she never became a bona fide star (like Faye Dunaway, her contemporary).

She is best known for:

You’re a big Boy Now (debut), 1966, Coppola

Easy Rider, 1969, Dennis Hopper

Five Easy Pieces, 1970, Bob Rafelson

The Great Gatsby, 1973, Jack Clayton

Nashville, 1975, Altman

Family Plot, 1976, Hitchcock

Born Karen Ziegler, born July 1, 1942 in Park Ridge, Illinois. Educated at Northwestern University.

Black made her first film, “The Prime Time,” in 1960, but breakthrough role was six year later, in Coppola’s “You’re a Big Boy Now.”

She appeared in a number of important countercultural youth movies, such as “Easy Rider,” in 1969, and “Five Easy Pieces,” in 1970, for which she received her first-and only-Supporting Actress Oscar nomination, as Jack Nicholosn’s nagging, simple-hearted girlfriend-waitress. For this role, she also won the N.Y. Film Critics Circle Award.

The Oscar winner, however, was less deserving, vet Helen Hayes for the blockbuster “Airport.”