Family & Companions
A ravishing redheaded leading lady of the 1940s and 50s, Eleanor Parker signed a contract with Warner Bros. on her 18th birthday after gaining experience on stage in Cleveland, summer stock and at the Pasadena Playhouse. She made her debut in Raoul Walsh's "They Died with Their Boots On" (1941) before graduating to starring status in distinguished films like "Pride of the Marines" (1945, her third movie with director Delmer Daves), and "Voice of the Turtle" (1947, opposite Ronald Reagan), adapted from John van Druten's Broadway hit. Parker reached the zenith of her popularity and acclaim in the early 50s, winning three Best Actress Oscar nominations for her terrorized prison inmate in "Caged" (1950), as Kirk Douglas' neglected wife with a secret in "Detective Story" (1951) and as polio-stricken opera star Marjorie Lawrence in "Interrupted Melody" (1955). That same year, she was also memorable as Frank Sinatra's beautiful but hateful crippled wife in Otto Preminger's "The Man with the Golden Arm." Parker's career had definitely peaked, and though she would reteam with Raoul Walsh for "The King and Four Queens" (1956, with Clark Gable) and Sinatra for Frank Capra's "A Hole in the Head" (1959), her best work of the late 50s was in Hugo Haas's "Lizzie" (1957) in which she was excellent as a woman with three distinct personalities, and Carl Schultz's "The Seventh Sin" (1957), playing the adulterous wife of a doctor who redeems herself during an epidemic. "Madison Avenue" (1962) marked her last starring role in a picture, but Parker continued to appear in secondary roles through the 70s, most notably as the Baroness in Robert Wise's "The Sound of Music" (1965). After headlining the NBC melodrama about the movie business "Bracken's World" (1969-70) and appearing in her final feature to date, "Sunburn" (1979), Parker acted in three TV-movies, "Once Upon a Spy" (ABC, 1980), "Madame X" (NBC, 1981) and "Dead on the Money" (TNT, 1991), in addition to the 1986 "Stage Struck" episode of CBS' "Murder, She Wrote." Parker died of complications of pneumonia in Palm Springs on December 9, 2013.
Cast (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Began her career at the age of ten with the Cleveland Playhouse Curtain Pullers (date approximate)
Enrolled at the Pasadena Playhouse after graduating from high school; discovered by a Warner Bros. talent scout (date approximate)
Signed a contract with Warners on her 18th birthday
Film debut, a bit part in "They Died With Their Boots On"
Last picture with Warner Bros., "Three Secrets", paired her with director Robert Wise; began free-lancing
Received first Oscar nomination for her leading role in "Caged"
Picked up second Oscar nomination for William Wyler's "Detective Story"
Beautiful but hateful as the wheelchair wife in Otto Preminger's "Man with the Golden Arm", starring Frank Sinatra
Received the last of her three Oscar nominations as Best Actress for her work in "Interrupted Melody"
Second film with Sinatra, Frank Capra's "A Hole in the Head"
Last starring role in "Madison Avenue"
Received "guest star" billing for her prominent supporting role as the Baroness in the popular musical film, "The Sound of Music", directed by Wise
TV series debut as regular, "Bracken's World" (NBC)
Returned to the stage; toured for two seasons in a production of "Forty Carats"
Played bickering wife of Jackie Cooper and mother to Sally Field's hippie runaway in ABC movie "Maybe I'll Come Home in the Spring"
Headlined ABC movie "The Great American Beauty Contest"
Starred in comedy pilot, Stanley Kramer's "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" (ABC), based on the director's 1967 feature
Portrayed Lady Amberly in syndicated miniseries "The Bastard"
Returned to feature films after a ten-year absence to play a role in "Sunburn"; last feature film to date
Appeared in "Stage Struck" episode of "Murder She Wrote" (CBS)
Played Catherine Blake in TNT movie "Dead on the Money"