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'Five Easy Pieces' star Karen Black has died at 74

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Jack Nicholson and Karen Black attend the premiere of "Five Easy Pieces" in 1970. Both were nominated for Oscars for their roles.

Actress Karen Black, who was nominated for an Academy Award for playing Jack Nicholson's girlfriend in "Five Easy Pieces" in 1970, died Wednesday of bladder cancer. She was 74.

"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," Black's husband, Stephen Eckelberry, wrote on Facebook. "Thank you all for all your prayers and love, they meant so much to her as they did to me."

Black's agent, Sara Schedeen, confirmed Black's death to NBC News. "She was one of the good ones," Schedeen said.

Black, a Chicago native, had many memorable roles. She is perhaps best known for playing Rayette, the waitress girlfriend of Jack Nicholson's character in the 1970 drama "Five Easy Pieces." Black won a Golden Globe for that role, and she and Nicholson were both nominated for Oscars.

Black also won a Golden Globe for playing Myrtle Wilson in the 1974 version of "The Great Gatsby," and earned a Grammy nomination for writing the songs "Memphis" and "Rolling Stone," which she performed in the 1975 Robert Altman musical "Nashville."

She also played stewardress Nancy Pryor, who is forced to fly a Boeing 747 after disaster strikes its pilots, in "Airport 1975." She also had roles in "The Day of the Locust," "Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean," "Family Plot" and horror film "Burnt Offerings." She made television appearances on "Adam-12" and in the horror pilot "Trilogy of Terror."

Her older sister, Gail Brown, was also an actress, playing Clarice Hobson on the soap opera "Another World."

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    Conrad Bain -

    Actor Conrad Bain, perhaps best known for his role as kindly millionaire Phillip Drummond on "Diff'rent Strokes," died Jan. 14 at age 89. He also played a memorable role on "Maude."

    Everett Collection / Everett Collection
  • Photo of Patti Page

    Curtain Calls 2013

    of

    Patti Page -

    Singer Patti Page, whose smooth alto voice made hits of "How Much Is That Doggie in the Window?", "Tennessee Waltz" and "Old Cape Cod," died on Jan. 1 at age 85.

    Getty Images / Getty Images


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