Marlene Clark, Model, ‘Ganja & Hess,’ ‘Sanford & Son’ Actress, Dies @ 85

May 20, 2023

Marlene Clark, the phenomenal beauty who went from modeling to acting in the '60s, '70s and '80s, has died peacefully in her L.A. home.

She was 85, not 73, as initially thought.

Kiss of the Cobra Woman (Image via video still)

Glass Hair Design posted a remembrance stating that Clark died on May 18, the same day as her Slaughter (1972) co-star Jim Brown, who died at 87.

Clark was born in Harlem on December 19, 1949, and grew up there, spending summers in West Virginia. Her first career was as a fashion model, but she segued naturally into films with 1968's For Love of Ivy, which starred Sidney Poitier (1927-2022).

Though uncredited for her work in Midnight Cowboy (1969) and Putney Swope (1969), she was pictured on the poster of the latter, directed by Robert Downey Sr. (1936-2021).

A controversial ad and poster at the time (Image via Cinema V)

She was directed by Hal Ashby (1929-1988) in his debut The Landlord (1970) and by Larry Hagman (1931-2012) in Beware! The Blob (1972), going on to appear with Jim Brown in Slaughter and then in the genre flick Night of the Cobra Woman (1972).

Her most famous and appreciated film was Ganja & Hess (1973) by Bill Gunn (1934-1989), a vampire classic.

Other film work includes Enter the Dragon (1973) and Switchblade Sisters (1975).

On TV, Clark was known as the character Lamont's girlfriend on Sanford & Son (1976-1977). She acted on TV until 1988.

There is no word on survivors.

2 Responses

  1. RIP, Ms. Clark. She was 73, not 85 (born in 1949).

    • Matthew Rettenmund

      Hi, and thanks for commenting. She was, in fact, 85. Ms. Clark has given 1949 as her official birthdate for decades, and nobody questioned it. But like many other actors and especially actresses (Ja’Net DuBois comes immediately to mind), her true age came out upon her death. I received this information directly from her official representative, but I would imagine Wikipedia and IMDb will likely keep the fake birth year up for a while, or maybe forever, and there will always be confusion.

Leave a comment