SANFORD and Son actress Marlene Clark, who appeared in several films in the 1970s, has died at the age of 85.
Clark’s friend, Tamara Lynch, announced the actress’ death, revealing she died in her Los Angeles home on May 18.
No cause of death has been revealed at this time.
“For 15 years she curated a bustling restaurant scene where underground artists mingled with locals and the stars of film and television,” said Lynch.
“She had a vision of culinary excellence coupled with dynamic professional service and would lay out the blueprint for the glamorous LA restaurant scene brilliantly casted with her discerning eye.
“Marlene’s style was impeccable. She loved fashion, food, and acting. Her large, full laugh that could fill a room will be missed. She leaves behind friends and family that will forever be grateful for her grace, love, and beautiful heart. Marlene was one of our finest examples of Black beauty.”
Clark died the same day NFL legend, Jim Brown, who she appeared alongside in the 1972 film, Slaughter.
“RIP beautiful actress Marlene Clark. . . It was a delight to work with you…,” tweeted Demond Wilson, who portrayed Lamont Sanford.
Clark portrayed Janet Lawson, who was Lamont’s fiancée on the show.
She also appeared in Roger Corman’s Night of the Cobra Woman in 1972 and played a suspected werewolf in the British horror flick, The Beast Must Die.
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Clark captivated audiences while playing a widow who gets turned into a vampire in the 1973 film Ganja & Hess.
“There are so many levels to her personality,” Clark said of her character Ganja, who becomes an immortal creature of the night by vampire Dr. Hess Green, played by Duane Jones.
“She’s such a collection of contradictions. Playing that part was very rewarding.”
The Hollywood Reporter listed her birthday as December 19, 1937, however, other sources report she was born in 1949 – making her 73 at the time of her death.
She attended Morristown Junior College in Tennessee before attending City College in New York.
Clark worked as a model before her debut film For Love of Ivy in 1968, which starred Sidney Poitier.
Director Bill Gunn hired Clark for his directorial debut film, Stop, however, it was given an X rating and was not seen by the public for years.
“Most of the movies I starred in didn’t come out when they were supposed to or never came out at all – and if the movies aren’t going to be released, the studios aren’t going to do anything to promote them,” said Clark.
“So you miss out on all that publicity that can lead to other jobs.”
Still, she had steady work on TV, appearing on episodes of Bonanza, Mod Squad, The Rookies, Barnaby Jones, Highways to Heaven, and Head of the Class, before retiring from acting in the late 1980s.
During her acting career, Clark opened her own clothing store on Melrose Avenue and also became the manager of Hal’s Bar & Grill in Venice Beach.
From 1968 to 1971, Clark was married to Billy Dee Williams, best known for playing Lando Calrissian in the Star Wars franchise.