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Karen Black Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (4)  | Trivia (37)  | Personal Quotes (9)

Overview (4)

Born in Park Ridge, Illinois, USA
Died in Santa Monica, California, USA  (ampullary cancer)
Birth NameKaren Blanche Ziegler
Height 5' 7½" (1.71 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Karen entered Northwestern University at 19 and left two years later. She studied under Lee Strasberg in New York and worked in a number of off-Broadway roles. She made a critically acclaimed debut on Broadway in 1965 in "The Playroom". Her first big film role was in You're a Big Boy Now (1966), directed by Francis Ford Coppola. Shortly after wards, she appeared as Marcia in the TV series The Second Hundred Years (1967).

The film that made her a star was Easy Rider (1969), where she worked with Dennis Hopper, Peter Fonda, and a supporting actor named Jack Nicholson. She appeared with Nicholson again the next year when they starred in Five Easy Pieces (1970), which garnered an Academy Award nomination and a Golden Globe for Karen. Her roles mainly consisted of waitresses, hookers and women on the edge. Some of her later films were disappointments at the box office, but she did receive another Golden Globe for The Great Gatsby (1974). One role for which she is well remembered is that of the jewel thief in Alfred Hitchcock's last film, Family Plot (1976). Another is as the woman terrorized in her apartment by a murderous Zuni doll come to life in the well received TV movie Trilogy of Terror (1975). After a number of forgettable movies, she again won rave reviews for her role in Come Back to the 5 & Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (1982). Since then, her film career has been busy, but the quality of the films has been uneven.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Tony Fontana <tony.fontana@spacebbs.com>

Spouse (4)

Stephen Eckelberry (27 September 1987 - 8 August 2013) (her death) (1 child)
L.M. Kit Carson (4 July 1975 - 28 June 1983) (divorced) (1 child)
Robert Burton (17 April 1973 - 1975) (divorced)
Charles Black (1954 - 1958) (divorced)

Trivia (37)

Mother of Hunter Carson with L.M. Kit Carson.
She adopted a daughter, Celine Eckelberry, with her husband Stephen Eckelberry.
Is the highest ranked actress on the "Oracle of Bacon" website (and 21st overall), which uses the Internet Movie Database to determine which actors can be linked by the highest number of other actors in the "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" trivia game.
Has a cult glam-punk band named after her. Called The Voluptous Horror of Karen Black, Kembra Pfahler is the American performance artist and singer/rock musician who fronts it. She is known for the often sexual nature of her pieces.
She and her husband, Stephen Eckelberry, are active in the Church of Scientology.
Guitarist Abby Normal featured a song, titled "Scream Karen Black", on his solo project album, "Midnight Creature Feature Picture Show".
Godmother of Dylan McKnight. His mother, Lee Purcell, is the godmother of Karen's children, Hunter Carson and Celine Eckelberry.
Wrote the songs "Memphis" and "Rolling Stone" which she performed in character as country singer Connie White in the movie Nashville (1975). As a result she was nominated for a Grammy Award for Album of Best Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or Television Series.
Launched her career as a playwright in May 2007 with the opening of "Missouri Waltz" in Los Angeles; Black starred in the play as well. The piece is conceived as a play with music, rather than a musical.
Made her Broadway debut in 1965's "The Playroom", which ran less than a month. She received great reviews, however, and was nominated for a Drama Circle Critics Award for Best Actress.
Attended Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, for two years before moving to New York, where she studied with Lee Strasberg at the Actor's Studio and appeared in a number of Off-Broadway productions.
The second daughter of Norman and Elsie Ziegler, her mother, who went by her maiden name of Elsie Reif, was a writer of several prize-winning children's novels; her paternal grandfather was Arthur Ziegler, a classical musician and the first violinist for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
Was married to actor Robert Burton at the time they filmed the cult TV-movie Trilogy of Terror (1975). Ms. Black initially turned the role down but eventually accepted when Robert was selected for a lead role in one of the three segments. Karen plays an English teacher and he plays an obsessed college student. The couple was already divorced after only little more than a year by the time the TV-movie premiered in March of 1975.
Considers Kris Kristofferson to be the most attractive male star she has ever worked with. She especially liked his voice.
Diagnosed with ampullary cancer in November 2010 and had a third of her pancreas immediately removed. Though declared cancer-free in 2011, had relapsed and underwent two operations in 2012.
She is of German, Bohemian (Czech), and Norwegian descent.
Sister of Gail Brown.
For her work in The Great Gatsby (1974), she's one of only 4 actresses to win the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress in a motion picture without receiving an Oscar nomination for the same performance. The other 3 are, in chronological order: Katy Jurado in High Noon (1952), Hermione Gingold in Gigi (1958) and Katharine Ross in Voyage of the Damned (1976).
Studied ballet from age of 6 to mid-teens.
Turned down the female lead in Support Your Local Gunfighter (1971) that went to Suzanne Pleshette.
Her role in Easy Rider (1969) was originally offered to Lana Wood.
Turned down Valerie Perrine's role in W.C. Fields and Me (1976).
Was considered for the role of Muriel Pritchett in The Accidental Tourist (1988), which earned an Oscar for its eventual star Geena Davis.
Went to Maine Township High School East, Des Plaines, IL, for the 9th grade, the same high school attended by Hillary Clinton and Harrison Ford.
Attended Lafayette Jefferson High School in Lafayette, Indiana.
Engaged to music manager Peter Rachtman. [1972]
Engaged to Michael Raeburn. [1981]
It was revealed posthumously that Karen Black had a daughter with Robert Benedetti, Diane Koehnemann Bay, who was born March 4, 1959, when Karen was a 19-year-old divorcée studying at Northwestern. Diane was adopted at birth by Don and Joan Koehnemann. On August 7, 2012, Diane got in touch with Karen through Facebook after the state of Illinois unsealed its adoption records. Ironically, Karen had disclosed the secret of Diane's existence to her own family just a few months earlier.
She has appeared in three films that have been selected for the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant: Easy Rider (1969), Five Easy Pieces (1970) and Nashville (1975).
Parents wanted her to be a teacher.
Karen had a difficult relationship with her father and was eager to get out of the house after her two elder siblings left for college. Hence her decision to marry at 15 - appallingly young even by 1950s standards. The timeline is hazy since Karen fibbed about her age when she came to Hollywood in 1966 - claiming to be 22 instead of 27 - and neglected to acknowledge her first marriage or her past residence in Lafayette, Ind., where her first husband was a psychology student at Purdue University. The people of Lafayette remember Karen as being eccentric.
Came five votes shy of getting a Best Actress Oscar nomination for The Day of the Locust (1975).
Paternal aunt of Erick Ziegler.
Brother Peter Ziegler married the daughter of Maryland Governor Theodore R. McKeldin.
Daughter-in-law of Renee Duke and Tener Eckelberry.

Personal Quotes (9)

My God, there aren't any more movie stars, which is terrific with me, it's very healthy. A lot of love now occurs in the business, people helping each other to do good work, getting high on each other's success. Isn't that great?
[on the craft of acting] That's really what acting is: you imagine things, then you respond naturally to what you've imagined.
Every time you do a part you try to find out what it would really be like to be that person, no matter who she is.
[re Bob Rafelson, director of Five Easy Pieces (1970) and her character in it] Rafelson thought I might be too complex for Rayette, but I told him I'm essentially simple, that really everybody is essentially simple, that we are all just beings who, uh, be. Certainly Rayette can just be. dig her, she's not dumb, she's just not into thinking. I didn't have to know anybody like her to play her. I mean, I'm like her, in ways. Rayette enjoys things as she sees them, she doesn't have to add significances. She can just love the dog, love the cat. See? There are many things she does not know, but that's cool; she doesn't intrude on anybody else's trip. And she's going to survive. Do you understand me?
[on Alfred Hitchcock] We'd do limericks together. One day he pulled up his shirt to show me his belly-button - which he didn't have. He'd had an operation and when they sewed him up they took it away. His belly-button was gone!
I have to say Linda Kandel, Mascara (1999)'s director, is genius. Her aesthetics are remarkably high. I enjoyed my role immensely. I believe that when this new century closes, Linda Kandell will be honored as one of the best
[on The Day of the Locust (1975)] I suffered a lot; seven months of agony. I wish I'd never done it.
People who can only respect someone who scares them, they won't respect me. One has to originate a regard for certain things in order to respect me.
Many of the films I did, I just did as a working person for money with which to live. You know which ones they were. They were pretty much all mistakes.

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