Actress Karen Black is set to deliver an inspiring message to fellow cancer patients from beyond the grave after filming her battle with the disease to document the toll it had taken on her life. The Easy Rider star passed away last week (08Aug13) following a three-year fight with ampullary cancer, a rare form of the illness which affects the bile duct.
Now it has emerged that the 74 year old had asked her husband, filmmaker Stephen Eckelberry, to capture her health struggle on camera and he is planning to release it on "the right platform for some kind of presentation", reports America's Globe tabloid.
A friend tells the publication, "She felt she could really help others by sharing her experience... That will be Karen's final curtain call and her inspiring message from beyond the grave. She fought so hard until the very end."
Actress Karen Black has lost her battle with cancer. The 74-year-old Easy Rider star passed away on Thursday (08Aug13) at a nursing facility in Los Angeles, according to her husband Stephen Eckelberry, who broke the sad news on his Facebook.com page.
In a post he wrote, "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. Thank you all for all your prayers and love, they meant so much to her as they did to me."
Black was diagnosed with ampullary cancer in November 2010, a rare form of the disease which affects the bile duct, and she had one third of her pancreas removed.
She went public with her health battle in 2012 and in March (13) launched an appeal to help fund her treatment on crowdsourcing website Kickstarter.com, which managed to smash its $17,000 (£10,000) target.
Black appeared in over 100 movies but is perhaps best know for her role as Rayette Dipesto in 1970 movie Five Easy Pieces, for which she earned an Best Supporting Actress Academy Award nomination. She went on to win a Golden Globe and a New York Film Critics award for her portrayal of the waitress.
Throughout a career which spanned five decades, Black also starred in movies including The Great Gatsby (1974), for which she also won a Golden Globe award, The Day of the Locust and Nashville (both 1975).
She was married four times and had a son with writer L.M. (Kit) Carson. She wed Eckelberry in 1987 and the pair adopted a daughter, named Celine.
Life can be tough for movie stars who've faded from public view. Just look at Karen Black. She appeared in some of the most prominent films of the '70s, like Five Easy Pieces, Nashville, The Great Gatsby, and Family Plot. But, despite being regularly employed ever since, her parts got smaller and smaller. Now, she's been struggling to pay for her own cancer treatment. Luckily, though, there are fans who remember her.
Black's husband, Stephen Eckelberry, realized that Black still has a following, so he set up a crowdfunding campaign to help with their medicals bills and finance an experimental treatment in Europe his wife thinks may help her condition. In November of 2010 she was diagnosed with ampullary cancer, which was treated by removing most of her pancreas and having her submit to intense doses of radiation. By the summer of 2011, it seemed she was in remission, but by early 2012 another tumor formed in her lower back that eventually spread to her lungs. What savings they possessed had already been spent on her previous treatment, so, to enable her to travel to Europe to try this different approach, Eckelberry set up a page on GoFundMe.com and established a fundraising goal of $32,000.
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"Some of you may remember my wife, Karen Black," Eckelberry wrote in a statement on the page. "She contributed tremendous work as an actress in movies of the seventies and eighties. If you’ve ever enjoyed her work, now is your chance to reach back to Karen – because Karen needs your help.... 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. In the last two years we have used up all of our savings keeping Karen alive – traveling – treatments, getting people to help her. We have nothing left. And the European treatment is not covered by insurance."
As of March 27, they've already received $45,454 from over 4,000 contributors, so maybe this story will have a Hollywood ending after all.
Follow Christian Blauvelt on Twitter @Ctblauvelt
[Photo Credit: JB Lacroix/WireImage]
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