Karen Black


  1. Dyan Cannon, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, 1968.  Alice.  (Also refused by  Paula Prentiss and Joanne Woodward. Paula’s husband, Richard Benjamin, was also up for her screen spouse, Ted).  

  2. Ann-Margret, Carnal Knowledge, 1971.    A question of boobs…  When Jules Feiffer sent his new play to Mike Nichols, the  stage and screen director immediately knew three things. 1. It was a film. 2. For Jack Nicholson. 3. But not his Easy Rider co-star, Karen Black. (They mutuallyagreed she that she didn’t have the right figure. Then again, enough for 194 screen roles across 53 years..Feiffer didn’t think Jack matched his “young Jewish misogynist.” “Trust me,” said Nichols, “he’s going to be our most important actor since Brando.” That’s when Jules realised he “:an write ‘em, but can’t cast ‘em.”  Nichols took his time, seeing  Ellen Burstyn, Dyan Cannon, Jane Fonda, Raquel Welch, Natalie Wood – before remembering Ann-Margret in Kitten With A Whip, 1964

  3. Diane Keaton, The Godfather,  1971.
  4. Ellen Burstyn, The Exorcist, 1973.
  5. Valerie Perine, WC Fields and Me, 1976.   There were five potential W Cs –  Albert Finney, Walter Matthau and top character actors Peter Boyle, Charles Durning. Just two for Carlotta Monti, his lover for his final 14 years and co-author of  this filmed bio. She said he possessed “every single blessing and curse known to mankind.” While Valerie called Steiger “a real jerk.” She missed making Lenny“A  fun set. This one isn’t. I wish I was back working again with Bobby (Fosse) and Dusty (Hoffman).”  Karen was completing Crime and Punishment in Vienna with Omar Sharif, when her agent called about two offers.  The WC biopic and Alfred Hitchcock’s Family Plot.  “Of course, there was no choice!”

  6. Barbara Harris, Family Plot, 1976.
    At her very first meeting with Alfred Hitchcock, she told him she wanted the Harris role – the fake medium and suggested a Southern accent and low cut blouse. “Mr Hitchcock wouldn’t hear of it. ‘No dear,’ he said, ‘that character is too low class.’ I thought to myself: This guy hasn’t seen Five Easy Pieces.”. Goldie Hawn, Liza Minnelli and   (surprise, surprise!) even Beverly Sills (“America’s Queen of Opera”) were also in the Blanche frame.   Until he fell – again – for Harris, a delightfiul actress he had tried to hire in the past. Hitch preferred Black as Fran for, alas, his final film.   Hitchcock was prepping The Short Night when he died, at age 80, on April 29, 1980. “His movies were the storyboards. Nobody has done it before or since. I think he was kind of bored on the set… because in his mind everything was done.”

  7. Grace Zabriskie, Child’s Play 2, 1990.      In the mix (with Mary Steenburgen) for Grace Poole in the killer-doll sequel.
  8. Leslie Easterbrook, The Devil’s Rejects, US-Germany, 2005.    Sequels are madefor the (extra) money.That’s Hollywood Law. Except when no such bonusis offered. So, instead of reprising Mother Firefly(“The voluptuous horror,” as The Village Voice critic Alex Pappademas put it) from the same director Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses, 2003, Karen rejected Rejects.




 Birth year: 1939Death year: 2013Other name: Casting Calls:  8