Karen Black

11/01/2012 – Karen Black – AFI Fest 2012 Opening Night Gala World Premiere of “Hitchcock” – Arrivals – Grauman’s Chinese Theatre – Hollywood, CA, USA – Keywords: Orientation: Portrait Face Count: 1 – False – Photo Credit: Jonathan Shensa / PR Photos – Contact (1-866-551-7827) – Portrait Face Count: 1

Birth Name: Karen Blanche Ziegler

Date of Birth: July 1, 1939

Place of Birth: Park Ridge, Illinois, U.S.

Date of Death: August 8, 2013

Place of Death: Santa Monica, California, U.S.

Ethnicity: Bohemian/Czech, German, Norwegian, distant Swiss-German

Karen Black was an American actress, screenwriter, singer, and songwriter.

Karen was the daughter of Elsie Mary (Reif), a writer of children’s novels, and Norman Arthur Ziegler, an engineer and businessperson. Her grandfather, Arthur Ziegler, was a classical musician, and the first violinist of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Her sister was actress Gail Brown.

Her father was of one quarter German, one quarter Bohemian (Czech), and one half Norwegian, descent. Her mother was of German and Bohemian (Czech) ancestry.

Karen was married to Stephen Eckelberry, until her death. She had a son, actor Hunter Carson, with her former husband, actor, screenwriter, and film producer L. M. Kit Carson; and a daughter with Stephen.

Karen’s patrilineal line can be traced back to her great-great-great-great-grandfather, Christian Ziegler, who was born, c. 1763, in Dautmergen, Zollernalbkreis, Baden-Württemberg, Germany.

Karen’s paternal grandfather was Arthur Charles Ziegler (the son of Simon Ziegler and Anna Priborsky/Pribarsky). Arthur was born in Illinois. Simon was from a Lutheran family. He was born in Neukirch, Rottweil, Baden-Württemberg, Germany, the son of Christian Ziegler and Elisabetha/Elisabeth Pfeiffer. Anna was born in Chicago, Illinois, the daughter of Eduard/Edward Příborský, who was born in Humpolac, Bohemia, Czechoslovakia, and of Paulina Brezova, who was born in Heralec, Cast Kamenica, Bohemia, Czechoslovakia.

Karen’s paternal grandmother was Mable Eleanore/Elenore Larsen (the daughter of Ole U./W. Larsen and Olida Johanna/Johanne Eriksen/Erickson). Mable was born in Rockford, Winnebago, Illinois. Ole was born in Torud-Farm, Furnes, Brumunddal, Norway. Olida was born in Trondheim, Norway, the daughter of Johanes Eriksen and Anne Marta Sivertsdotter Falstad.

Karen’s maternal grandfather was Peter Anton Reif (the son of Peter Reif and Mathilda Anna Kutiel). Karen’s grandfather Peter was born in Wisconsin. Karen’s great-grandfather Peter was born in Wisconsin, to German parents, Nicolaus/Nicholas Reif, who was born in Reifenmuhle, Morz (Buch), Rhein-Hunsruck, and Catherina/Catharina Wickert, who was born in Prussia. Mathilda was born in Central Europe, the daughter of Joseph Kutiel and Katerina/Katie, and was of German or Bohemian (Czech) descent.

Karen’s maternal grandmother was Emma Shimon (the daughter of John Shimon and Marie “Mary” Hussar). Emma was born in Cooperstown, Wisconsin, to Bohemian (Czech) immigrants. John was the son of John Shimon and Catharina Braschkowitz/Henesay/Chotek. Marie “Mary” was the daughter of Franz/Francis/Frank Husar and Rosalia Thoma.

Sources: Genealogy of Karen Black – http://www.zellnerfamily.com

Genealogy of Karen’s maternal grandparents, Peter Anton Reif and Emma Shimon – http://familytreemaker.genealogy.com

Oral history of Karen’s maternal great-grandfather, Peter Reif – http://www.2manitowoc.com

Karen’s maternal great-grandfather, Peter Reif, on the 1870 U.S. Census – https://familysearch.org

Death record of Karen’s maternal great-grandmother, Mathilda Anna (Kutiel) Reif – https://familysearch.org

Karen’s maternal great-grandparents, John Shimon and Marie “Mary” Hussar, on the 1880 U.S. Census – https://familysearch.org


Curious about ethnicity

5 Responses

  1. follers says:

    R.I.P. Karen Black.

  2. Angantyr says:

    By Bohemian, I take it you mean Czech. Bohemia is just a historical portion of the Czech Republic.

  3. dee says:

    Karen Black isn’t Jewish.

    Her father was of German, Bohemian, and Norwegian descent. Her mother was of German and Bohemian descent.

    See family tree


    • ectag says:

      Her paternal great grandparents’ names (Simon Ziegler and Anna Priborsky) strongly suggest her paternal grandfather was at least partially if not wholly ethnically Jewish.

      Zeigler is a common Jewish surname, as is Priborsky, though not everyone with these surnames is Jewish. After all, there was a major Nazi official named Rosenberg.

      She is often cited as a Jewish celebrity on Jewish websites and publications, and her death was covered in Jewish oriented publications such as The Jewish Voice which typically reserve such coverage for deaths of high profile Jews.

      Of course they might have simply assumed she was Jewish based on her maiden name of Ziegler.

      Black is also a common Jewish surname, but she acquired the surname Black by marriage.

      I suspect she was probably of a quarter or so Ashkenazi Jewish ethnically via her paternal grandfather though I’ve seen nothing that confirms this.

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