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Also Known As: Died:
Born: May 28, 1931 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Johnstown, Pennsylvania, USA Profession: actor, writer, dancer, magician's assistant

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

A talented former dancer and magician's assistant, voluptuous, blonde bombshell Carroll Baker came under the private tutelage of Lee Strasberg once in NYC, eventually becoming a member of the famed Actors Studio. She had appeared in a bit role in "Easy to Love" (1953), but it was her performance on Broadway in Robert Anderson's "All Summer Long" (1955) that led director Elia Kazan and playwright-screenwriter Tennessee Williams to chose her (over Marilyn Monroe) for their classic "Baby Doll" (1956). Although George Steven's "Giant", which opened two months earlier that same year, introduced Baker as a terrific screen presence, it did not prepare anyone for her sizzling portrayal as the underage and overly ripe wife of Karl Malden, whose erotic thumb-sucking and torrid "love scene" (without a single kiss) played with Eli Wallach on a swing outside the house somehow slipped past the Hays' censors, earning her a much-deserved Oscar nomination for Best Actress. Condemned by the Catholic Church's Legion of Decency because of its "carnal suggestiveness", "Baby Doll" established Baker solidly as an A-list actor."Baby Doll" also typed her in Hollywood's eyes as a sexpot, and no matter how hard she tried to...

A talented former dancer and magician's assistant, voluptuous, blonde bombshell Carroll Baker came under the private tutelage of Lee Strasberg once in NYC, eventually becoming a member of the famed Actors Studio. She had appeared in a bit role in "Easy to Love" (1953), but it was her performance on Broadway in Robert Anderson's "All Summer Long" (1955) that led director Elia Kazan and playwright-screenwriter Tennessee Williams to chose her (over Marilyn Monroe) for their classic "Baby Doll" (1956). Although George Steven's "Giant", which opened two months earlier that same year, introduced Baker as a terrific screen presence, it did not prepare anyone for her sizzling portrayal as the underage and overly ripe wife of Karl Malden, whose erotic thumb-sucking and torrid "love scene" (without a single kiss) played with Eli Wallach on a swing outside the house somehow slipped past the Hays' censors, earning her a much-deserved Oscar nomination for Best Actress. Condemned by the Catholic Church's Legion of Decency because of its "carnal suggestiveness", "Baby Doll" established Baker solidly as an A-list actor.

"Baby Doll" also typed her in Hollywood's eyes as a sexpot, and no matter how hard she tried to transcend that image with serious, unglamorous performances in quality offerings ("The Big Country" 1958, "Something Wild" 1961 and "Cheyenne Autumn" 1964), producers continued grooming her to replace Monroe as the screen's preeminent sex goddess. She got her man (Jimmy Stewart) in the heroic "How the West Was Won" (1962) and reunited with Stevens for his Biblical epic, "The Greatest Story Ever Told" (1965), and although "The Carpetbaggers" (1964), "Sylvia" and "Harlow" (both 1965) captured her flamboyant earnestness, none of these movies did anything to dispel her reputation as a sex kitten. Blackballed by producer Joseph Levine for failing to promote "Harlow", Baker finally slipped from the A-list for the first time in a decade. Hopelessly in debt with two young children to support after her second marriage (to director Jack Garfein) fizzled, she fled to Italy, churning out sexploitation flicks for the next ten years, feeling lucky to get roles in movies with titles like "Orgasmo" (1969) and "Baba Yaga, Devil Witch" (1973).

Baker returned to the stage, making her London debut as Sadie Thompson in a revival of Somerset Maugham's "Rain" (1977), reprising a role she had played on British TV (BBC) in 1972. She then performed in American regional theater in places like Atlanta, GA ("Bell, Book, and Candle" 1978) and Dallas, TX ("Forty Carats" 1979), the United Kingdom, where she acted in such plays as "Lucy Crown" (1979) and "Motive" (1980), and Canada ("Little Hut" 1981). As for film, her luck began to change when she landed a part opposite Bette Davis in "The Watcher in the Woods" (1980), which led to higher-profile character work in more promising material ("Star '80" 1983 and "Native Son" 1986). Baker turned in a fine performance as Annie Phelan, Jack Nicholson's wife in "Ironweed" (1987), but it wasn't until playing a villainess to Arnold Schwarzenegger in "Kindergarten Cop" (1990) that she felt confident enough to move back to Los Angeles. Since then she has acted in the features "Blonde Fist" (1991), David Fincher's "The Game" (1997), in which she played the crucial role of Michael Douglas' housekeeper, and "Nowhere to Go" (lensed 1997). Baker has appeared frequently on TV in the 90s, appearing in a three-week stint on "L A Law" in 1993 and acting in movies like "Skeletons" (HBO, 1996), "North Shore Fish" (Showtime, 1997) and "Heart Full of Rain" (CBS, 1997).

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Another Woman's Husband (2000) Lynn
2.
 Silent Hearts (1999) Nana Castellano
3.
 Deadly Measures (1998)
4.
 Heart Full of Rain (1997) Edith Pearl Dockett
5.
 Skeletons (1997) Nancy Norton
6.
7.
 Game, The (1997) Ilsa
8.
 North Shore Fish (1997) Arlyne
9.
 Rag and Bone (1997)
10.
 Dalva (1996) Naomi
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Joined itinerant dance troupe and toured southern states
:
Worked as a conjurer's assistant for Burling Hall (known as the Great Volta) who booked her on the Kemp Time Vaudeville Circuit in North Carolina
:
Moved to New York and danced in a nightclub
1953:
Film debut in a bit part in "Easy to Love"
:
Returned to NY with Russ Morgan's band; acted on TV commercials (including Coca-Cola)
1953:
Appeared in workshop production of "A Hatful of Rain" at Actors Studio
1955:
Broadway debut, "All Summer Long"
1956:
Proved herself a competent actress in her first important movie part as the high-spirited daughter of Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson in George Stevens' "Giant"
1956:
Established herself as a sizzling cinematic presence in Elia Kazan's "Baby Doll" (screenplay by Tennessee Williams), playing the underaged but overly ripe and buxom title character; Warner Bros signed her to a contract following her work on the film; earned Best Actress Oscar nomination
1958:
Portrayed Charles Bickford's tempestuous, pouting daughter in William Wyler's "The Big Country"
1959:
Acted opposite Clark Gable in "But Not for Me"
1961:
Starred in husband Jack Garfein's second feature film, "Something Wild"
1962:
Gets her man (Jimmy Stewart) in star-studded "How the West Was Won" (also first film with George Peppard)
1963:
Perfectly exploited as the sexpot among five love-starved men in "Station Six-Sahara"
1964:
Role for "The Carpetbaggers" drawn almost wholly from Jean Harlow; second film with Peppard
1965:
Reunited with Stevens for "The Greatest Story Ever Told"
1965:
Played bad girl turned good in Gordon Douglas' "Sylvia"
1965:
Second film of the year with Douglas, "Harlow", rushed through production to compete with the slipshod Carol Linley version of the same year
:
Moved to Italy, beginning a 10-year period of doing European sexploitation flicks with such catchy titles as "Orgasmo" (1969) and "Baba Yaga--Devil Witch" (1973)
1972:
British TV debut, "Rain"
1977:
Reprised role of Sadie Thompson in London stage debut of Somerset Maugham's "Rain"
1978:
Acted on the stage in American regional theater, Canada and the United Kingdom
1980:
Appeared in British-made Disney effort "Watcher in the Woods", starring Bette Davis
1983:
Played Dorothy Stratton's mother in "Star 80" and Sigmund Freud's mother in "The Secret Diary of Sigmund Freud"
1985:
Featured role as Gerda Hoffman in "Hitler's SS: Portrait of Evil", an NBC movie released theatrically abroad
1986:
Portrayed blind Mrs Dalton in "Native Son"
1987:
Delivered sympathetic portrayal as Jack Nicholson's long abandoned wife in "Ironweed"
1990:
Villainous turn as the cold-blooded mother of psychopath Richard Tyson in "Kindergarten Cop", starring Arnold Schwarzenegger
1991:
Superb as aging ex-stripper who becomes Margi Clarke's "manager" in "Blonde Fist"
1993:
Did a three-week guest stint on TV's "L.A. Law"
1996:
Appeared in HBO movie "Skeleton"
1997:
Played important role as Michael Douglas' housekeeper in David Fincher's "The Game"
1997:
Acted in the TV-movies "North Shore Fish" and "Heart Full of Rain"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Greensburgh High School: Greensburgh , Pennsylvania -
Actors Studio: New York , New York -
St Petersburg Junior College: St Petersburg , Florida - 1952

Notes

Named Woman of the Year by Harvard's Hasty Pudding Club in 1957.

Received Film Achievement Award from Look Magazine (1957).

Presented a lifetime achievement award at the Breckenridge (Colorado) Film Festival (1997).

Baker was one of the first mainstream Hollywood starlets to pose nude in Playboy magazine.

About working with George Peppard and Alan Ladd in "The Carpetbaggers" (Ladd's last film): "George wasn't a nice person--fame had gone to his head--and I didn't like the way he treated Alan. Alan had trouble remembering his lines and was so insecure it made you sad to be around him. We all knew he was ill, but George would always say, 'For Chrissakes, get it together, Alan'" --Carroll Baker in Movieline, February 1998.

"['The Game' is] an important movie and I'm honored to be in it. Of course, I'd like to be the romantic lead. And I'm actually closer to Michael's [Douglas] age than Deborah Kara Unger is [Baker is 66, Douglas is 53 and Unger is 31]. I think it's always worked that way in Hollywood. When I was in my 20s, I played opposite Jimmy Stewart, Robert Mitchum and Clark Gable, all of whom were old enough to be my father." --Baker quoted in New York Post, September 9, 1997.

"I'm getting a bit discouraged because I would like to age gracefully. I'm never going to look like a woman, just an old girl." --Baker quoted in the London Times, June 26, 2000.

Companions close complete companion listing

husband:
Lew Ritter. Furrier. Married c. 1950; marriage lasted eight months; he was 65 at the time of their wedding; Baker claims he raped her.
husband:
Jack Garfein. Director. Married on April 5, 1955; separated in 1964; divorced in 1969; second husband; met at Actors Studio.
companion:
Franco Nero. Actor. Baker revealed to the London <i>Times</i> that they had an affair.
husband:
Donald Burton. Actor. Married in 1982; British.
VIEW COMPLETE COMPANION LISTING

Family close complete family listing

father:
William Baker. Traveling salesman.
mother:
Virginia Baker.
daughter:
Blanche Baker. Actor. Born in 1956.
son:
Herschel Garfein. Composer. Born in 1957.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"Baby Doll" Arbor House
"To Africa with Love" Donald I. Fine, Inc.
"A Roman Tale" Donald I. Fine, Inc.

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