How 'Easy Rider' Karen Black Turned To The Public For Healthcare

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Karen Black, the Illinois-born actress who appeared in more than 100 movies including the classic 1969 road movie Easy Rider, has died at a Los Angeles clinic aged 74 following a battle with cancer, reports BBC News.

Black, who almost always played troubled characters, earned an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe award for her hugely accomplished performance as a waitress who dates an upper class dropout (Jack Nicholson) in Five Easy Pieces. However, despite her impressive filmography, the actress was forced to turn to the public for help with treatment for her ampullary cancer.

An online funding appeal was set up by her husband Stephen Eckelberry in the hope of raising $60,000 for Karen to travel to Europe for treatment as part of a clinical study.

He wrote: "So here is the big question; why would someone like Karen need money? Yes, she was an actress in movies, but most of the high-paying work dwindled out many years ago. She has a modest pension and medical insurance (thank goodness), but as anyone knows who has fought cancer, that is not enough."

Stephen updated Karen's fans on Wednesday (August 7, 2013), explaining that his wife was not in good health, "I wish I had better news to report. But cancer seldom allows for that. Karen and I have received hundreds of messages from you. Your prayers and well wishes help sustain us. We remain eternally grateful for all the love you continue to share," he said.

As Baz Luhrmann's recent adaptation of The Great Gatsby is set to go ignored by the major awards ceremonies this year, Black will no doubt have fondly remembered her best supporting actress Golden Globe for playing Myrtle Wilson in the 1974 version.

She went on to be nominated for a Grammy Award for playing a country singer in the 1975 musical-drama Nashville and also starred in Alfred Hitchcock's last ever movie, Family Plot, in 1976.

Black is survived by her son, Hunter Carson, whom she appeared with in the 1986 film 'Invaders From Mars', and adopted daughter Celine Eckleberry.

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