Archive for category Death

Karen Black Dies at 74

Oscar-nominated actress Karen Black died Thursday at the age of 74 after a long battle with cancer.

The Easy Rider star’s husband, Stephen Eckelberry, announced her death on his Facebook page, 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.”

Black was diagnosed with ampullary cancer in November 2010 and had a third of her pancreas removed. She was declared cancer-free in 2011, but in March of this year, a fundraising page was set up to help raise public donations for experimental treatment in Europe that was not covered by insurance.

On Aug. 7, just a day before she passed, Eckelberry posted an update saying that Black had become bed-bound as the cancer had spread to her spine and back and they were unable to go to Europe. But he said he had “given up predicting what is going to happen to Karen.”

“You look at the scans, they tell you one thing, then you meet Karen, and what you are left with is how amazingly alive she is,” he wrote. “She can’t help but take life head-on and be completely engaged in the moment, always interested, always curious, always present.”

Award-Winning Roles

Known for her full lips and thick, wavy hair that seemed to change color from film to film, Black often portrayed women who were quirky, troubled or threatened. Her breakthrough was as a prostitute who takes LSD with Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda in 1969’s Easy Rider, the hippie classic that helped get her the role of Rayette Dipesto, a waitress who dates – and is mistreated by – an upper-class dropout played by Jack Nicholson in 1970’s Five Easy Pieces.

Cited by The New York Times as a “pathetically appealing vulgarian,” Black’s performance won her an Oscar nomination and Golden Globe Award. She would recall that playing Rayette really was acting: The well-read, cerebral Black, raised in a comfortable Chicago suburb, had little in common with her relatively simple-minded character.

“If you look through the eyes of Rayette, it looks nice, really beautiful, light, not heavy, not serious. A very affectionate woman who would look upon things with love, and longing,” Black told Venice Magazine in 2007.

“A completely uncritical person, and in that sense, a beautiful person. When [director] Bob Rafelson called me to his office to discuss the part he said, ‘Karen, I’m worried you can’t play this role because you’re too smart.’ I said ‘Bob, when you call “action,” I will stop thinking,’ because that’s how Rayette is.'”

In 1971, Black starred with Nicholson again in Drive, He Said which Nicholson also directed. Over the next few years, she worked with such top actors and directors as Richard Benjamin (Portnoy’s Complaint), Robert Redford and Mia Farrow (The Great Gatsby) and Charlton Heston (Airport 1975).

She was nominated for a Grammy Award after writing and performing songs for Nashville, in which she played a country singer in Robert Altman’s 1975 ensemble epic. Black also starred as a jewel thief in Alfred Hitchcock’s last movie, Family Plot, released in 1976.

“We used to read each other poems and limericks and tried to catch me on my vocabulary,” she later said of Hitchcock. “He once said, ‘You seem very perspicacious today, Miss Black.’ I said, ‘Oh, you mean “keenly perceptive?” ‘Yes.’ So I got him this huge, gold-embossed dictionary that said ‘Diction-Harry,’ at the end of the shoot.”

Black was married four times. She is survived by Eckelberry, a son and a daughter.

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Nelson Mandela Dies: Dignitaries and Stars Pay Respects

A great leader has died – and within minutes, people who knew Nelson Mandela and many others, who only knew of his fight for freedom in South Africa and for people around the world, lit up social media sites like Twitter and Instagram to express their condolences and pay their respects.

Madela passed away Thursday at the age of 95.

“The founding President of our democratic nation has departed,” the current President of South Africa Jacob Zuma, using Mandela’s tribal name, said in an address to the nation. “He passed on peacefully in the company of his family … on the 5th of December 2013. He is now resting. He is now at peace. Our nation has lost its greatest son. Our people have lost a father.”

RELATED: Nelson Mandela’s Life in Pictures

Read on to see what others had to say about the loss of Mandela.

View the story “Remembering Nelson Mandela: Stars Pay Tribute ” on Storify

FROM EW.COM: Five Touchstone Film Moments

FROM ESSENCE.COM: President Obama on Mandela’s Passing

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Cory Monteith: An ‘Enduring Sweetness’ on Glee

Cory Monteith arrived in our homes in 2009 in a happy burst of music, color and youth called Glee.

The news of his death in a Vancouver hotel room comes with the shock of someone dying at only age 31 (he seemed more like 22) – and also with the realization that he takes with him that music, color and youth.

Monteith was Finn Hudson, tall, handsome in a clean, square way. He looked like an old-fashioned teenage dreamboat dropped down in a school so up-to-the-minute in its heterogeneous mix he might have seemed out of place – like Ronald Reagan turning up in his brown suit to audition for the annual musical (Rent, say).

PHOTOS: Cory Monteith’s Hollywood Life

But Monteith had an open-faced quality that revealed, or betrayed, whatever emotion he was feeling (or singing) at the moment. He had an earnestness, an awkwardness, a sincerity that gave him a certain rawness – and an enduring sweetness.

The other performers on Glee tend to have the shiny, expert confidence that we want (and need) of a show that expects its characters to burst into song. Monteith never had quite that same edge: His definition was softer. He moved through the corridors of McKinley High at a slightly different lope, and that all lingers in the mind.

At least that’s how Monteith strikes me now – perhaps I’d already begun to adjust my ideas about him after he entered rehab earlier this year for substance abuse. These shadows filter into your perceptions, especially your perceptions of an actor still so early in his career – and associated with a show as bright as Glee.

Miss him already.

PHOTOS: Cory & Lea: Their Love Story
RELATED: Lea Michele: This Is a ‘Devastating Time’
RELATED: A shocked Hollywood reacts to Cory Monteith’s death
EARLIER: Cory Monteith, 31, Found Dead in Hotel Room
FLASHBACK: Watch His Glee Audition Tape

Cory Monteith’s 11 Best Glee Performances

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