The Night Karen Black Sang To Me

11950 - NASHVILLE, KAREN BLACK_small

The sirens take another…Karen Black, who actually debuted in an H.G. Lewis film (yep) called THE PRIME TIME (1960)  and became a female prototype for the exploitation-turned-art film generation, appearing in Francis Coppola’s first film, YOU’RE A BIG BOY NOW (1967) then blazing onto the 1970’s as part of the BBS crew. She dropped bad acid in EASY RIDER (1969) then received a Best Supporting Actress nomination for her astonishingly naive and vibrant role in FIVE EASY PIECES (1970), appearing in a slew of studio films like PORTNOY’S COMPLAINT; DAY OF THE LOCUST; AIRPORT ’75; and even Alfred Hitchcock’s last film FAMILY PLOT (1976). She traumatized a TV generation with her legendary Zuni Doll encounter in TRILOGY OF TERROR (1975) culminating in one of the most frightening final shots in genre history to this day. I first met her at the Austin Film Festival in 1999; we discussed her past work and why she was sweetly afraid at the time to do an interview with me (“I won’t get hired if they know my age, honey.”) She introduced NASHVILLE along with Robert Altman and watching it with them made me pine for that 70’s scope and naturalism. I met her years later at the premiere of Henry Jaglom’s IRENE IN TIME and as we were chatting, she ended up singing a 1940’s torch song to me and archivist Miles Krueger as we listened in quiet awe among the gliterrati of Hollywood…that’s how I’ll end this and how I’ll remember Karen Black…

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