Karen Black has left the earth at age 74. I was told last spring that she was in trouble with cancer. Sincere condolences to her family, friends and all who knew her as a creative colleague. Black was especially gifted at playing eccentric or spirited. Her best role, I feel, was as Jack Nicholson‘s ditzy-cracker girlfriend in Five Easy Pieces. Her hot streak ran from 1969 to 1976, or rather from Dennis Hopper‘s Easy Rider, in which she played a New Orleans prostitute who does acid with Hopper and Peter Fonda‘s characters, to Alfred Hitchcock‘s Family Plot. Her second-best role during this period was the wacko peroxide femme fatale in Day of the Locust. Her other distinctive performances during this streak were in Drive, He Said, Born to Win, Cisco Pike, Portnoy’s Complaint, The Outfit, The Great Gatsby and Nashville. Black kept on working until ’09 or thereabouts. Now is not the time to lament her long allegiance to Scientology.