Marlene Clark (1949-2023)

May 28, 2023 | R.I.P.

By Kevin Kayhart | Daily Mail

Marlene Clark, the actress best known for her role on the hit 1970s sitcoms Sanford And Son and the horror film Ganja & Hess (1973), has died at the age of 85.

The actress died at her home in Los Angeles on Thursday, May 18, her friend Tamara Lynch confirmed to People.

Lynch would go on to heap praise on her friend, describing her as ‘an extraordinary woman’ and someone with ‘grit’ despite being a small-statured woman.

‘She almost looked like a Black Polynesian, she was just so exotic,’ her friend added. ‘Then she had this deep, cavernous voice. When she spoke, it was such a command of attention.’

Clark reportedly maintained that grit and strong work ethic through her entire life.

She was tenacious in her love of art, film, and expression,’ her friend explained. ‘Really, to the day she died, if she had an audition, Marlene would’ve gone to the audition.

Lynch went on to call Clark ‘one of those die-hard old-school actors, performers, Hollywood people. You do the work. You show up. You know your lines, and then you go home and you go back, and you do it the next day.’

While she may have not been recognizable to fans of film and television, Clark leaves the world having left an impact on the entertainment industry.

‘She’s part of the people who kicked down these doors, and there was no predecessor to what she was doing. Everything was blind. So everything she’s doing is the first,’ Lynch shared.

‘So she’s being in these films with these Black filmmakers and these Black actors and these Black writers and creating this movement.’

Raised in the Harlem section of New York City, she would kick off her career as a model and eventually transition to acting.

Of the films Clark appeared in early on her career included For Love Of Ivy (1968), starring Sidney Poitier (1968) and Putney Swope (1969), which was directed by Robert Downey Sr.

By 1969, she got married to screen star Billy Dee Williams in Hawaii, but their marriage would only last about three years, ending in divorce in 1971.

Her screen credits would also included starring opposite of the late Jim Brown and Stella Stevens in Slaughter (1972) and star opposite Duane Jones in Bill Gunn’s horror film Ganja & Hess (1973).

On the television side, she played Lamont’s (Demond Wilson) girlfriend in Sanford And Son, as well as the hit series like Mod Squad.

‘RIP beautiful actress Marlene Clark,’ Wilson shared on Twitter after learning of her passing, adding, ‘It was a delight to work with you.’

Her other film credits Switchblade Sisters, Night Of The Cobra Woman, The Beast Must Die, Enter The Dragon, Black Mamba, and The Baron, along with TV appearances in Head Of The Class, Flamingo Road, Highway To Heaven, and Barnaby Jones.