Carol Speed, who lit up the screen in the cult blaxploitation film The Mack, died on Jan. 14 in Muskogee, Okla. She was 76 and her family announced her death in a statement published online, but did not specify the cause.
Speed came to filmgoer attention in the 1970s in a series of blaxploitation movies, but broke through in 1973’s The Mack, in which she played the girlfriend and head prostitute of star Max Julien, who died earlier this month. That led Speed to television roles on TV shows, including Julia and Sanford and Son.
Her other big role was in the horror film Abby in 1974, playing the title character, who is possessed by an ancient Nigerian devil known as Eshu. The film was a hit among moviegoers after its Christmas Day release. But Warner Bros. sued, claiming it stole the plot of its film The Exorcist. The litigation led to Abby being pulled from theaters, but its legend lived on, and it became a sought-after must-see for fans of the genre.
Carol Ann Bennett Stewart was born on March 14, 1945, in Bakersfield, Calif. She attended San Jose City College, and received a scholarship to study at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco.
From there, she moved to Reno, Nev., where she worked as a backup singer to pop star Bobbie Gentry before moving to Hollywood.
She is survived by a sister, Barbara Morrison, and a grandson. No memorial plans have been released.
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