Marlene Clark Obituary – Biography of Late Sanford and Son Cast Mate

American actress Marlene Clark has sadly passed away at the age of 73 after a long career entertaining the world – below is her obituary.

Clark died May 18th 2023 – coincidentally the same day beloved quarterback and actor Jim Brown, who she starred alongside on Slaughter, died.

News of Marlene’s death has now hit the limelight and triggered many questions about her life and death.

In this article, presents Marlene Clark obituary, biography and more.

Marlene Clark Obituary

Marlene Clark was an American actress and model most known for appearances on Sanford & Son and Ganja and Hess – below is her obituary.

She was born on December 19, 1949 in New York City. A native of Harlem,  Clark attended Morristown Junior College in Tennessee and City College in New York.

She worked as a fashion model before her transition into acting with a role in For Love of Ivy opposite Sidney Poitier and directed by Robert Downey Snr.

She made her television debut in a 1970 episode of The Bill Cosby Show and would go on to guest on series including The Governor & J.J., The Immortal, Bonanza, The Mod Squad, McCloud, The Rookies, and The Richard Pryor Show.

In the ’80s, she appeared in episodes of Barnaby Jones, Flamingo Road, Highway to Heaven, and Head of the Class.

Marlene Clark would however become most known for her roles in the pioneering Black sitcom Sanford and Son.

She played Janet Lawson, the girlfriend of Lamont (Demond Wilson), in six episodes of the show.

Her movie career was extensive. Clark appeared in Hal Ashby’s directorial debut The Landlord in 1970 with the screenplay by Bill Gunn. 

Gunn cast her once more in his unreleased film, Stop, also in 1970. Marlene Clark also appeared opposite Jim Brown and Stella Stevens in Slaughter (1972) and in Night of the Cobra Woman the same year.

Other notable movies include appearing alongside Bruce Lee in the film Enter the Dragon (1973), in which she portrayed a secretary.

Marlene Clark’s seminal movie role was the titular role as Ganja Meda in Bill Gunn’s influential Ganja & Hess

In Ganja & Hess, an allegory about addiction, Clark played a widow who is turned into a vampire by Dr. Hess Green (Duane Jones). The movie is regarded as a seminal Black horror film, and Spike Lee remade it in 2014 as Da Sweet Blood of Jesus.

A.H. Weiler of The New York Times wrote in his review of the film, “Miss Clark is an arresting presence as the enamored Ganja. Also, she occasionally invests an unbelievable character with style and humor.”

Marlene Clark passed away on May 18th 2023 at her home in Los Angeles. Her cause of death has not been disclosed. She was 73.

“If you knew Marlene, you knew that the one thing that she had was grit,” her friend Tamara Lynch told PEOPLE. 

“She was a very small-statured woman, really thin. She almost looked like a Black Polynesian, she was just so exotic. Then she had this deep, cavernous voice. When she spoke, it was such a command of attention.”

Lynch continued, “She was tenacious in her love of art, film, and expression. Really, to the day she died, if she had an audition, Marlene would’ve gone to the audition. She would’ve done anything. She was 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.”

Marlene was married once – to actor Billy Dee Williams in Hawaii. She was the stepmother of his son Corey, from his first marriage. Their marriage lasted only three years, and they officially divorced in 1971.

Here ends Marlene Clark obituary – may she rest in peace.

Sanford and Son cast

marlene clark and demond wilson sanford and son

The late actress, Marlene Clark appeared in the 70s Black sitcom, Sanford and Son.

Sanford and Son was an American sitcom television series that aired on NBC from January 14, 1972, to March 25, 1977. It was based on the British sitcom Steptoe and Son, which initially aired on BBC One in the United Kingdom from 1962 to 1974.

The series was noted for its edgy racial humor, running gags, and catchphrases and has been hailed as the precursor to many other African-American sitcoms.

The Sanford and Son cast included – Redd Foxx who played Fred G. Sanford whilst Demond Wilson took on the role of Lamont Sanford, his long-suffering son.

Other cast members included LaWanda Page, Raymond Allen, Whitman Mayo and others.

In the 5th season of the show, Lamont Sanford (Demond Wilson) started dating a divorcee, Janet Lawson, played by Marlene Clark. 

The pair had an onscreen relationship until the end of the 6th season when they broke up due to the return of Janet’s ex-husband.

Following the death of Marlene Clark, Demond Wilson took to Twitter to mourn her.

“RIP beautiful actress Marlene Clark… It was a delight to work with you.” Wilson tweeted.

Marlene Clark net worth

marlene clark net worth

Marlene Clark’s net worth is frankly, difficult to calculate. We have seen estimates ranging anywhere from $5m – $10 dollars but those appear to be wild guesses.

Billy Dee Williams

billy dee williams

The below section is culled from the Wikipedia entry for the American actor, Billy Dee Williams, who was married to Marlene Clark between 1968 and 1971.

William December Williams Jr. (born April 6, 1937) is an American actor, novelist and painter. He appeared as Lando Calrissian in the Star Wars franchise, first in the early 1980s for The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983), and 36 years later in The Rise of Skywalker (2019).

Williams was born in New York City, and raised in Harlem along with his twin sister, Loretta. In 1945, he made his Broadway theatre debut at age seven in The Firebrand of Florence. 

He later graduated from The High School of Music & Art, then won a painting scholarship to the National Academy of Fine Arts and Design, where he won a Hallgarten Prize for painting in the mid-1950s. 

To fund his art supplies he returned to acting, including stage, films, and television. He continued painting; his work has since been shown in galleries and collections worldwide.

Williams’ film debut was in The Last Angry Man (1959), but he came to national attention in the television movie Brian’s Song (1971), which earned him an Emmy nomination for Best Actor. He has appeared in at least 70 films over six decades including critically acclaimed and popular movies such as Lady Sings the Blues (1972) and Mahogany (1975)/

Williams’s television work includes over sixty credits starting in 1966 including recurring roles over the decades in Gideon’s Crossing; Dynasty, General Hospital: Night Shift; and General Hospital. 

Later work included voice acting in the series Titan Maximum (2009), and appearing on the reality show Dancing with the Stars (2014). His work has earned him numerous awards and honors including three NAACP Image Awards, and the NAACP Lifetime Achievement award.

Williams has been married three times, and has three children, and two grandchildren.

His first marriage was to Audrey Sellers in 1959. They were divorced some years later, after which he apparently became depressed. He stated that “there was a period when I was very despondent, broke, depressed, my first marriage was on the rocks.” 

They had a son, Corey Dee Williams, born in 1960.

In 1968, Williams married model and actress Marlene Clark in Hawaii. They divorced in 1971.

He moved from New York City to California in 1971. 

He married Teruko Nakagami on December 27, 1972. She brought a daughter, Miyako (born 1962), from her previous marriage to musician Wayne Shorter. Together they have a daughter, Hanako (born 1973).

He filed for an amicable divorce from Nakagami in 1993, but they reconciled, and were again living together by 1997.


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