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

Jack Nicholson, right, and co-star Karen Black appear together at New York's Philharmonic Hall to attend the premiere of their new film "Five Easy Pie... AP file
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."

Curtain Calls 2013

Actors James Gandolfini, Annette Funicello and Cory Monteith are just three of the famous names we've lost in 2013.


Join the TODAY Food Club NOW for a chance to win the Ultimate Cookware Giveaway.