Marlene Clark, actress in ‘Sanford and Son’ and ‘Ganja & Hess’, dies at 85

Marlene Clark, the statuesque actress who played Lamont’s fiancee in Sanford and sons and stood out in films of the 1970s like Ganja & Hess, Switchblade Sisters And Slaughter, is dead. She was 85 years old.

Clark died May 18 at her Los Angeles home, her family announced. No cause of death has been revealed.

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Clark also played the role of a reptilian seductress in Roger Corman Night of the Cobra Woman (1972) and as one of the British horror film’s alleged werewolves The beast must die (1974), and she was one of the first victims of the film directed by Larry Hagman Be careful! the blob (1972).

Clark played John Saxon’s secretary in Enter the dragon (1973), starring Bruce Lee, and his big-screen work also included Black Mamba (1974), Newman’s Law (1974), Lord Shango (1975) and the baron (1977), where she appears opposite her The beast must die on-screen husband, Calvin Lockhart.

In the surreal Ganja & Hess (1973), directed by Bill Gunn, Clark starred as a widow named Ganja who is turned into a vampire by Dr. Hess Green (Duane Jones), an anthropologist turned immortal bloodsucker. He ends up giving up this way of life, but she continues. The film was the only American entry in the Critics’ Week sidebar at the Cannes Film Festival that year.

“There are so many layers to his personality,” she said of her character in a 2000 Schlock Temple interview. “She is such a collection of contradictions. Playing this role was very rewarding.

Clark portrayed a government agent in the film starring Jim Brown Slaughter (1972) and Muff, the leader of an all-female black gang aiming to derail murderous drug dealers, in Switchblade Sisters (1975), directed by Jack Hill.

She then returned as Janet Lawson, love interest of Demond Wilson’s character, in six episodes of NBC. Sanford and sons from 1976-77. Lamont’s pop Fred Sanford (Redd Foxx) doesn’t approve of them getting engaged at first, but he comes back.

Marlene Clark and Calvin Lockhart in THE BEAST MUST DIE, 1974

Marlene Clark and Calvin Lockhart in “The Beast Must Die” in 1974

Born in Harlem on December 19, 1937, Clark often spent her summers in West Virginia, her mother’s birthplace.

She attended Morristown Junior College in Tennessee and City College in New York and worked as a model before making her film debut in For the love of ivy (1968), starring Sidney Poitier.

Clark followed with roles in John Schlesinger midnight cowboy (1969), Robert Downey Sr. Putney Swipe (1969) – she was a topless flight attendant in a parody of an airline commercial – and Hal Ashby’s The owner (1970), co-written by Gunn.

Gunn hired her for her directorial debut with Stop! (1970), but the film received an X rating, set aside by Warner Bros. and has not been seen for years.

“Most of the movies I’ve been in either didn’t come out when they were supposed to or never came out at all – and if the movies don’t come out, the studios won’t do anything to promote them,” she says. . “So you miss all that publicity that can lead to other jobs.”

Clark, however, managed to find work on episodes of Marcus Welby, MD, Bargain, Mod Team, Mc Cloud, The recruits, Barnabas Jones, Route of the flamingos, highway to paradise And Head of class before leaving the theater in the late 1980s.

While still performing, she opened her own clothing store on Melrose Avenue in the ’80s, then became the manager of Hal’s Bar & Grill in Venice Beach.

“For 15 years, she hosted a bustling restaurant scene where underground artists mingled with locals and movie and TV stars,” her family said. “She had a vision of culinary excellence paired with dynamic professional service and would set the blueprint for LA’s glamorous restaurant scene brilliantly projected with her discerning eye.

“Marlene’s style was impeccable. She loved fashion, food and theater. His big, full, room-filling laugh will be missed. She leaves behind friends and family who will be forever grateful for her grace, love and beautiful heart. Marlene was one of our finest examples of black beauty.

She was the second wife of actor Billy Dee Williams (they were married from 1968 to 1971), and they appeared together in the 1970 NBC television movie. lost flight.

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