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TCM Remembers 'Sound of Music' Actress Eleanor Parker with Marathon Programming December 17 (OBIT ROUNDUP)

by Beth Hanna
December 10, 2013 12:26 PM
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Eleanor Parker in "The Sound of Music"

New York Times:

Ms. Parker was an elegant, ladylike yet sensual film actress. Still, her most recognizable role, as the Baroness who loves Christopher Plummer’s character, Captain von Trapp, in “The Sound of Music” (1965), called for an icy demeanor. Uninterested in his houseful of children, she loses him to the governess, played memorably by Julie Andrews. (Laura Benanti played the part in the recent version on NBC.)

The highest accolades of Ms. Parker’s career came a decade before.

She was nominated for an Oscar for dramatic roles as a wrongly convicted young prisoner in “Caged” (1950), a police officer’s neglected wife in “Detective Story” (1951) and an opera star with polio in “Interrupted Melody” (1955), a biography of the Australian soprano Marjorie Lawrence. She also received an Emmy Award nomination in 1963 for an episode of “The Eleventh Hour,” an NBC series about psychiatric cases.

If she never became a star, admirers contended, it was because of her versatility.

Huffington Post:

"Eleanor Parker was and is one of the most beautiful ladies I have ever known," said Plummer in a statement. "Both as a person and as a beauty. I hardly believe the sad news for I was sure she was enchanted and would live forever."

"I'm primarily a character actress," she said in a 1988 interview, explaining why she never achieved the stardom of so many of her co-stars. "I've portrayed so many diverse individuals on the screen that my own personality never emerged."

Like William Holden, Robert Preston, Dustin Hoffman and others, Parker was discovered at the Pasadena Playhouse.

LA Times:

Parker quickly proved to be more than just a pretty face. She was a character actress in a movie star's body — a nuanced, sensitive dramatic performer whether as a young woman on a ship bound for the afterlife in the 1944 drama "Between Two Worlds" or as John Garfield's resilient love interest in the 1945 classic "The Pride of the Marines."

She was so adaptable that she became known as "the star with 100 faces."

Entertainment Weekly:

Her career fully blossomed with such follow-up films as Scaramouche with Stewart Granger, Above and Beyond with Robert Taylor, Escape From Fort Bravo with Holden, Valley of the Kings with Taylor, and The Naked Jungle with Charlton Heston.

She took on one of her most challenging roles in 1955 in Interrupted Melody, portraying opera star Marjorie Lawrence, who continued her career after contracting polio. Faced with having to lip-synch nine arias in three languages, she holed up in a Lake Arrowhead cabin for two weeks and played records eight to 10 hours a day.

The result: her third Oscar nomination.

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More: News, Obit, Classics, Eleanor Parker


  • Denise | December 10, 2013 7:10 PMReply

    The Golden Age of Hollywood was brighter because of the presence of Eleanor Parker. She was a beautiful and gifted actress that took her craft seriously and never gave a bad performance which was testiment to her dedication to her art, but she was even more dedicated to her family making a conscience decision to keep her private life PRIVATE and never trading it to further her career or for fame. Ms. Parker was a classy lady and great actress that should have received the Oscar for her perfomances in Caged and Interrupted Melody; and the Academy should have recognized her body of work with the lifetime acheivement award. My thoughts and prayers go out to her children, family, friends and devoted fans. Thank you Ms. Parker for the hundreds of hours of quality entertainment you have left for us and may you enjoy eternal peace.

  • Brian | December 10, 2013 3:40 PMReply

    Her appearance in AN AMERICAN DREAM (1966) is the most memorable thing about that movie (an adaptation of the Norman Mailer novel). She's also great in DETECTIVE STORY, SCARAMOUCHE, THE NAKED JUNGLE, and MANY RIVERS TO CROSS.

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