On Friday, January 14, Abby and The Mack star Carol Speed passed away at the age of 76. The news of her demise in Muskogee, Oklahoma, was announced by her family. No further details about the cause of her death were made available.

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Speed is survived by her grandson Marc, sister Barbara, and multiple nieces as well as nephews. The actress had only one child, a son, who preceded her in death.

The 76-year-old was renowned for her appearance in multiple ‘Blaxploitation’ films in the 1970s, which exploited black characters. These films also portrayed them in a stereotypical and outright offensive light.


Carol Speed’s life

Carole Speed was born Carolyn Ann Stewart in Bakersfield, California, on March 14, 1945. According to her IMDb bio, the actress grew up in San Jose, California, and forayed into the performing arts at an early age.

The California native reportedly starred in her first acting role in 1957 at the age of 12, in a stage musical production of The King and I by a production house in her city, called San Jose Light Opera. Prior to her career, Carol resided in Santa Clara and attended William C. Overfelt High School.

As per her IMDb profile, she was the first African-American homecoming queen in her county. The late actress was also the first African-American to receive a scholarship to the American Conservatory Theatre, a major theater group based out of San Francisco.

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Despite being known for her acting roles in ‘Blaxploitation’ films throughout the 1970s, Carol Speed debuted in the entertainment industry as a backup singer for Bobbie Gentry during her performances at a club in Reno, Nevada. Carol was also part of a musical group along with her two cousins.

Following her high school graduation in 1963, Carol Speed kicked off her professional acting career with an appearance in an episode of the NBC sitcom Julia. Speed’s big break came with a 1972 “women in prison” film, The Big Bird Cage, where she played an inmate named Mickie.

Carol Speed was known for her role in 1973’s The Mack, where she portrayed the escort girlfriend of Max Julien‘s pimp character, Lulu. Speed garnered most of her fame from her lead role as Abby Williams in 1974’s r-rated ‘Blaxploitation’ titular horror film, Abby. In the movie, a demon possesses a marriage counselor named Abby.

The 76-year-old was known for her work outside acting as well. She wrote books like Inside Black Hollywood (published in 1980) and The Georgette Harvey Story (published in 2002). Speed also sang her own composition “My Soul Is A Witness,” in Abby and performed her song in 1973’s The Girls of Huntington House.

Throughout her career, spanning two decades, Carol Speed appeared in 18 projects. Her last role was in a small-budget film in 2006 called Village Vengeance.

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