Her husband Stephen Eckelberry announced her death on Facebook, saying “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. Thank you all for all your prayers and love, they meant so much to her as they did to me.”
LA Times reports she was diagnosed with ampullary cancer in 2010, and had sought help from the public earlier this year to cover the cost of her medical treatment. An appeal by her husband, Stephen Eckelberry, on a crowd-sourcing website raised more than $60,000.
Although she had a small part in Dennis Hopper’s groundbreaking 1969 counterculture movie, Easy Rider, Black was best known for her performance in Five Easy Pieces, the 1970 film as the girlfriend of Jack Nicholson’s character.
She also had roles in the 1974 version of The Great Gatsby, The Day of the Locust in 1975 and two Robert Altman films, Nashville and Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean.
TV credits included Mannix, Adam-12, In the Heat of the Night, Miami Vice, Murder She Wrote, The FBI, Run for your Life, Ghost Story, Law & Order: Criminal Intent and telemovies My Neighbor’s Daughter, Police Story: Confessions of a Lady Cop, Where the Ladies Go and The Strange Possession of Mrs. Oliver.