Beloved Sanford and Son Actress Marlene Clark Passes Away at 85 on Same Day as Jim Brown, Her Slaughter Co-Star


Actress Marlene Clark, Star of Sanford and Son, Passes Away at 85

Marlene Clark, known for her roles in several films in the 1970s and her work on TV, including the popular comedy Sanford and Son, has passed away at the age of 85 in her Los Angeles home on May 18. Her friend and confidant, Tamara Lynch, announced the actress’ death to the public.

Clark died the same day as NFL legend, Jim Brown, who starred with her in the film Slaughter in 1972, though no connection has been reported between the two deaths. No cause of death has been released at this time.

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The Actresses Legacy

Marlene Clark was known not just for her acting talent, but also her love of culinary arts, and her vision of excellence in restaurant service. Her contributions to the glamorous LA restaurant scene are still recognized today, and housed dynamic interactions between local artists and celebrities. She was celebrated for her impeccable style, appreciation of fashion, love of food, and her ability to produce a laugh that could fill a room.

Work and Achievements

Clark attended City College in New York after studying at Morristown Junior College in Tennessee. She began her career as a model before her debut film in 1968, For Love of Ivy (with Sidney Poitier). Her steady work in TV ranged from popular shows like Bonanza, Mod Squad, The Rookies, Barnaby Jones, and Highways to Heaven. Her last performance was in a late 1980’s TV show, Head of the Class, before retiring extremely quietly from acting.

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Captivating Presence

Some of her best-known roles include playing Janet Lawson, Lamont Sanford’s girlfriend in Sanford and Son, as well as the suspected werewolf in the British horror film The Beast Must Die. Clark received much praise for her role as Ganja in the 1973 film Ganja and Hess, in which she played a widow who becomes a vampire after being bitten by the title character. She earnt even more praise through the strikingly complex personality she brought to the character. Heritage explains, “‘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.’”

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Clark’s passing was a sad day in the television industry, but Marlene Clark will always be remembered for her groundbreaking performances and exceptional contributions to the entertainment industry.


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