Carroll Baker

  • Born: (United States) Johnstown, Pennsylvania

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

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 giallo and horror films, including Romolo Guerrieri's The Sweet Body of Deborah (1969), Umberto Lenzi's Orgasmo (1969) and Knife of Ice (1972), and Corrado Farina's Baba Yaga (1973), 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 two autobiographies and a novel.

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