Susan Anspach Dies: ‘Five Easy Pieces’ & ‘Play It Again, Sam’ Actress Was 75

Actress Susan Anspach, whose style came to epitomize the counterculture of the 1960s and ’70s in such films as Five Easy Pieces, has died. She passed away Monday at her home in Los Angeles from coronary problems, according to her son, Caleb Goddard.

Anspach was on the cutting edge of acting in the 1960s. She appeared in the off-Broadway version of Hair early in her career, then moved on to such films as The Landlord, Blume in Love and opposite Jack Nicholson in Five Easy Pieces.


Anspach (pronounced ONS-bok) began her film career in 1972 in Hal Ashby’s The Landlord (1970), following that same year with her definitive role, the classic Five Easy Pieces directed by Bob Rafelson. Anspach portrayed a New Age intellectual who sleeps with Nicholson even though she is engaged to his character’s brother.

She continued along with a busy schedule, appearing as writer-director-star Woody Allen’s ex-wife in 1972’s Play It Again, Sam, followed by the 1973 film Blume in Love, in which she traded in a stuffy husband for musician Kris Kristofferson and his far different lifestyle.

Born Florence Anspach on November 23, 1942, in Queens, she was raised at first by a great aunt, then by her parents, whom she joined at age 6. Anspach claimed neglect and left home at age 15, moving in with a family in Harlem.

She received a full scholarship to the Catholic University of America in Washington, studyng music and drama, and made her acting debut in Thornton Wilder’s one-act play Pullman Car Hiawatha at a Maryland summer theater.

After college, she moved to New York and fell in with then-struggling actors Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight. She made her stage debut in 1965 in the off-Broadway play A View from the Bridge, which also starred Voight and Robert Duvall.

Anspach worked into her 60s in film and television, appeared in the 2009 movie Wild About Harry.  

Survivors include her son, Caleb; a daughter, Catherine Goddard; three grandchildren; and a brother, Robert Anspach. No details on a memorial service have been revealed.

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