Marlene Clark, Who Appeared in ‘Sanford and Son’ and ‘Ganja & Hess,’ Dies at 85


Marlene Clark, an actor who appeared on “Sanford and Son,” the horror movie “Ganja & Hess” and several other films of the ’60s and ’70s, died on May 18. She was 85.

Clark starred in several films ahead of landing her breakout role as Lamont Lawson’s (played by Demond Wilson) wife Janet in “Sanford and Son.” She later starred in the 1973 horror movie “Ganja & Hess” alongside Duane Jones. 

Clark was born and raised in Harlem, N.Y., and spent time in West Virginia during her summers. She returned to New York after attending Morristown Jr. College in Tennessee and enrolled in City College. While at school, Clark participated in school plays, igniting her interest in the acting world.

Clark later moved to Los Angeles with her then-husband Billy Dee Williams. She began her career in entertainment as a fashion model before landing her first role in the 1968 film “For Love of Ivy.” Clark went on to land featured roles in the 1969 films “Midnight Cowboy” and “Putney Swope.” 

She was featured in other projects including “Enter the Dragon,” “Lord Shango,” “Black Mamba” and “The Jezebels.” Clark co-starred in the 1972 Blaxploitation film “Slaughter” with Jim Brown, who died on May 18 at 87 years old.

In the 1980s, Clark would open her own clothing store on Melrose to cultivate her interest in fashion. She then went on to manage Hal’s Bar and Grill in Venice Beach, where she worked for 15 years. 

Wilson, Clark’s “Sanford and Son” co-star, paid tribute to her on Twitter, writing, “RIP beautiful actress Marlene Clark…It was a delight to work with you. 12/19/49 – 5/18/23.”

RIP beautiful actress Marlene Clark. . . It was a delight to work with you. 12/19/49 – 5/18/23

— Demond Wilson (@Sanfords_Son) May 23, 2023

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