Friday, August 9, 2013

Rant #1,017: 1970s Film Icon Passes

It was announced that veteran film actress Karen Black has died at age 74.

I have to tell you, I could never figure out if I liked Black or not.

My likes and dislikes aside, during the 1970s, she was probably one of the most popular actresses on the planet.

Just to have on her resume "Five Easy Pieces" and "Easy Rider" made her counterculture-hip, if you will.

She was perfect for the time period.

She wasn't movie star gorgeous, coming up to the majors, so to speak, at a time when that was the way to go. Other actresses like Faye Dunaway also didn't fit the mold, and although this "fad" didn't last long, she certainly fit the bill for the time.

She had a look that was so counter any female movie star had had previously that you can say that she defied the odds by becoming so popular.

At least to me, her hair was always messy, her makeup not always quite on right.

She kind of looked like a female stoner before that term was even acknowledged, but she was very, very talented.

To me, she was sort of a female "version" of Jack Nicholson, and the public adored her.

She was also in such films as "Airport" and "Nashville," and she made the TV movie "Trilogy of Terror," where if I remember correctly, she battled little robots.

However, even though she was touched by the Academy Awards just like Nicholson was--she was nominated, he has won several--once the 1970s were over, her time had seemingly passed.

She claimed her downfall as a movie star was her starring role in one of the all-time bombs, "The Day of the Locusts," and she was probably right. From then on, she was in a lot of trashy movies and was almost a regular guest star on TV shows.

I just remember seeing her in a movie directed by Nicholson, "Drive, He Said," which I thought was in the 1980s, but alas, was in the early 1970s.

Both Nicholson and Black looked tired in the film, and even though he went on to become a mega-star, even by the early to mid-1970s, Black was way past her prime.

Lots of movie icons from the late 1960s and early 1970s are now gone, led by Dennis Hopper and now Black.

The were a different kind of movie star, but in their own way, they defined their era as much as, let's say, Marlon Brando defined the 1950s.

So here's to Black, a most unlikely movie star, but one certainly for the ages.

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