Karen Black, Five Easy Pieces Actress, Dead at 74 After Cancer Battle

Karen Black died after a battle with cancer on Thursday, Aug. 8.
Karen Black died after a battle with cancer on Thursday, Aug. 8. David Livingston/Getty Images

Karen Black, the legendary actress perhaps best known for her 1970 role in Five Easy Pieces opposite Jack Nicholson, has died after a nearly three-year battle with cancer, her husband confirmed via Facebook on Thursday, Aug. 8. She was 74.

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Black was diagnosed with ampullary cancer in November 2010, and her husband, Stephen Eckelberry, turned to crowd-funding site GoFundMe.com when the disease returned in June 2012 in order to pay for a two-month clinical treatment in Europe for his ailing wife. 

"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," he wrote on the social networking site. "Thank you all for all your prayers and love, they meant so much to her as they did to me."

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The actress earned a supporting actress Oscar nomination for her turn as a clingy girlfriend to Nicholson's character in the memorable 1970 film, and she would go on to star in such films as Nashville, Day of the Locusts, and even Alfred Hitchcock's final film, Family Plot.

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Black also played Myrtle Wilson in the 1974 version of The Great Gatsby, opposite Robert Redford as Jay Gatsby and Mia Farrow as Daisy Buchanan.

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