Karen Black, the actress best known for her work in films like Easy Rider, Nashville, and Five Easy Pieces, for which she received an Oscar nod, died today after a long battle with cancer. In March it was reported that Black had resorted to crowdfunding in order to pay for her final treatments. She was 74.
Screenwriter Nora Ephron seems to have passed away, according to this uncomfortably indeterminate column by her friend Liz Smith that just appeared on the internet. Her former close friend Margo Howard also writes on Twitter that Ephron passed away from cancer, and that a funeral is
scheduled for Thursday. [Update: We're told it has now been pushed back until after the Fourth of July.] According to the Observer, Ephron's representatives are not commenting on Smith's column.
Zelda Kaplan, the hard-partying 95-year-old socialite who has been a fixture of the New York scene since the '60s, collapsed right in the middle of the Joanna Mastroianni fashion show at Lincoln Center yesterday, just as the second model walked past her. She was later pronounced dead. This is the first time a fashion show has literally been deadly boring.
Marge Miley, a former editor and columnist at the Manitowoc (WI) Herald Times Reporter passed away this week at the age of 86. Marge composed her own obituary, which she left on file with her funeral home. (Here's the first page—click to enlarge.) She would surely take some satisfaction from the fact that what she wrote was better than the obit the newspaper did for her.
Etta James, the great singer, died today in California of complications from leukemia. She was 72. Over the six decades of her career, James won six Grammys and was inducted into the Rock n Roll hall of fame, survived a heroin addiction and a variety of health problems, and sold millions of records. In 2009, the Obamas danced to "At Last" — sung by Beyoncé, who played James in Cadillac Records — at the Neighborhood Inaugural Ball. Above, her "I'd Rather Go Blind," recorded in 1968.
Helen Frankenthaler, the great abstract painter (and legendary party-thrower) died today "after a long illness." She was 83. Frankenthaler's big abstract paintings—made by staining canvas with thin paint—were among the best-known of the "second generation" of abstract expressionism. And even if you don't like them (which, hey, whatever, "art"), you will probably appreciate this story from the Times obit:
Josef Stalin's last surviving daughter, Lana Peters, née Svetlana Stalina, has died. She was in Wisconsin, of all places, where she'd been living on and off since 1986; unsurprisingly, she had a hard, shitty life, thanks in no small part to her father, who was nearly as brutal a father as he was a dictator. But don't take our word for it!
Most of us will remember Elizabeth Taylor, who passed away today at 79, by her many great roles or the work she did for numerous charitable causes. But she'll also be remembered for walking down the aisle seven times over the course of her life. With the help of LIFE.com's archives, here's a little look at some of the happiest days of Elizabeth Taylor Hilton Wilding Todd Fisher Burton Burton Warner Fortensky's life.