Carroll Baker

Carroll Baker
Date of Birth:
May 28, 1931
Place of Birth:
Johnstown, Pennsylvania, United States
Actress, Writer
Louie Ritter (m. 1953–1953), Jack Garfein (m. 1955–1969), Donald Burton (m. 1978; His Death 2007)
<a Href=''>Blanche Baker</a>, Herschel Garfein
Years active:
Known for:
Baby Doll (1956), Giant (1956), Something Wild (1961), How The West Was Won (1962), The Carpetbaggers (1964), Harlow (1965), Native Son (1986), Kindergarten Cop (1990)
5 Ft 5 In (1.65 M)

Carroll Baker - Biography Summary

Carroll Baker (born May 28, 1931) is a retired American actress of film, stage, and television. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Baker's range of roles from naive ingénues to brash and flamboyant women established her as both a serious dramatic actress and a pin-up. After studying under Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio, Baker began performing on Broadway in 1954, where she was recruited by director Elia Kazan to play the lead in the film of Tennessee Williams's Baby Doll (1956). Her role in the film as a sexually repressed Southern bride earned her BAFTA and Academy Award nominations for Best Actress, as well as a Golden Globe award for Most Promising Newcomer that year.

Her other early film roles included in George Stevens' Giant (1956), playing the love interest of James Dean, and in the romantic comedy But Not for Me (1959). In 1961, Baker appeared in the controversial independent film Something Wild, directed by her then-husband Jack Garfein, playing a traumatized rape victim. She went on to star in several critically acclaimed Westerns throughout the 1960s, such as The Big Country (1958), How the West Was Won (1962), and Cheyenne Autumn (1964).

In the mid-1960s, as a contract player for Paramount Pictures, Baker became a sex symbol after appearing as a hedonistic widow in The Carpetbaggers (1964). The film's producer, Joseph E. Levine, cast her in the potboiler Sylvia before giving her the role of Jean Harlow in the biopic Harlow (1965). Despite significant prepublicity, Harlow was a critical failure, and Baker relocated to Italy in 1966 amid a legal dispute over her contract with Paramount and Levine's overseeing of her career. In Europe, she spent the next 10 years starring in hard-edged Italian thriller and horror films, including Umberto Lenzi's Paranoia (1969) and Knife of Ice (1972), before re-emerging for American audiences as a character actress in the Andy Warhol-produced dark comedy Bad (1977).

Baker appeared in supporting roles in several acclaimed dramas in the 1980s, including the true-crime drama Star 80 (1983) as the mother of murder victim Dorothy Stratten, and the racial drama Native Son (1986), based on the novel by Richard Wright. In 1987, she had a supporting part in Ironweed (1987). Through the 1990s, Baker had guest roles on several television series such as Murder, She Wrote; L.A. Law, and Roswell. She also had supporting parts in several big-budget films, such as Kindergarten Cop (1990), and the David Fincher-directed thriller The Game (1997). She formally retired from acting in 2002. In addition to acting, Baker is also the author of three books, two autobiographical works, and a novel.

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