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Karen Carpenter Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (1) | Trade Mark (2) | Trivia (100) | Personal Quotes (10)

Overview (5)

Date of Birth 2 March 1950New Haven, Connecticut, USA
Date of Death 4 February 1983Downey, California, USA  (heart failure caused by chronic anorexia)
Birth NameKaren Anne Carpenter
Nickname K.C.
Height 5' 4" (1.63 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Born in New Haven, Connecticut, Karen Carpenter moved with her family to Downey, California, in 1963. Karen's older brother, Richard Carpenter, decided to put together an instrumental trio with him on the piano, Karen on the drums and their friend Wes Jacobs on the bass and tuba. In a battle of the bands at the Hollywood Bowl in 1966, the group won first place and landed a contract with RCA Records. However, RCA did not see a future in jazz tuba, and the contract was short-lived.

Karen and Richard formed another band, Spectrum, with four other fellow students from California State University at Long Beach that played several gigs before disbanding. In 1969, Karen and Richard made several demo music tapes and shopped them around to different record companies; they were eventually offered a contract with A&M Records. Their first hit was a reworking of The Beatles hit "Ticket to Ride", followed by a re-recorded version of Burt Bacharach's "Close to You", which sold a million copies.

Soon Richard and Karen became one of the most successful groups of the early 1970s, with Karen on the drums and lead vocals and Richard on the piano with backup vocals. They won three Grammy Awards, embarked on a world tour, and landed their own TV variety series in 1971, titled Make Your Own Kind of Music! (1971).

In 1975 the story came out when The Carpenters were forced to cancel a European tour because the gaunt Karen was too weak to perform. Nobody knew that Karen was at the time suffering from anorexia nervosa, a mental illness characterized by obsessive dieting to a point of starvation. In 1976 she moved out of her parents' house to a condo of her own.

While her brother Richard was recovering from his Quaalude addiction, Karen decided to record a solo album in New York City in 1979 with producer Phil Ramone. Encouraged by the positive reaction to it in New York, Karen was eager to show it to Richard and the record company in California, who were nonplussed. The album was shelved.

In 1980, she married real estate developer Thomas J. Burris. However, the unhappy marriage really only lasted a year before they separated. (Karen was to sign the divorce papers the day she died).

Shortly afterward, she and brother Richard were back in the recording studio, where they recorded their hit single "Touch Me When We're Dancing". However, Karen was unable to shake her depression as well as her eating disorder, and after realizing she needed help, she spent most of 1982 in New York City undergoing treatment. By 1983, Karen was starting to take control of her life and planning to return to the recording studio and to make public appearances again. In February of 1983, she went to her parents' house to sort through some old clothes she kept there when she collapsed in a walk-in closet from cardiac arrest. She was only 32. Doctors revealed that her long battle with anorexia nervosa had stressed her heart to the breaking point.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Matt Patay <pataygs@voicenet.com>

Spouse (1)

Thomas James Burris (31 August 1980 - 4 February 1983) (her death)

Trade Mark (2)

Contralto singing vocals
Shoulder length brown hair.

Trivia (100)

In her mid 20s, she was still living with her parents.
At age 30, she made a solo album with producer Phil Ramone in 1980, titled "Karen Carpenter". However, it was shelved by A&M executive Herb Alpert. 16 years later in 1996, it was finally released.
Was married at the Beverly Hills Hotel in the Crystal Room.
On Thursday, December 11, 2003 she, Agnes and Harold were exhumed from Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Cypress, California and were moved to Pierce Brothers Valley Oaks Memorial Park in Westlake Village, California. Agnes, Karen and Harold remained in their original caskets. At 12:30pm PST, they were all re-interred and entombed in a private family mausoleum in the Tranquility Gardens section of the cemetery.
Ranked #29 on VH1's 100 Greatest Women of Rock N Roll
Sang "Bless the Beasts and the Children" with her brother Richard Carpenter at The 44th Annual Academy Awards (1972).
Started out singing in two unsuccessful singing bands called "The Dick Carpenter Trio" and "Spectrum".
"A Star on Earth - A Star in Heaven" is written in her mausoleum.
Among her friends were Petula Clark, Olivia Newton-John and Dionne Warwick.
While being treated for anorexia, she embroidered a sign above her hospital bed that read "You win, I gain!".
Attended and graduated from Downey High School in Downey, California.
Dedicated her solo album to her brother Richard Carpenter.
As of April 2004, her brother Richard Carpenter has made four new Carpenters albums since her death. This is possible by using songs that were left off previous albums and making new albums out of them. He also uses songs that Karen recorded and then later arranges music to accompany them.
She did not like the song "Superstar" until after hearing her brother's arrangement for it; she then considered it one of her favorites that the Carpenters had done.
The song "Now", recorded in April 1982, was the last song she ever recorded.
The Carpenters franchise is very big and popular in Japan.
In 1976, she bought a Century City condominium. she gutted two separate apartments and turned it into one. The address was 2222 Avenue of the Stars. As a housewarming-gift, her mother Agnes Carpenter gave her a collection of leather-bound classic works of literature.
Collected Disney memorabilia.
Songwriter Paul Williams wrote "Rainy Days and Mondays" for her.
Ranked #30 on "E!'s 101 Most Shocking Moments In Entertainment History".
Her funeral took place on February 8, 1983 at the United Methodist Church in Downey, California.
Performed and sang for Richard Nixon at the White House in 1972.
Attended and graduated from California State University, Long Beach.
Was close to her brother Richard Carpenter.
Songwriter Peter Cetera wrote "Making Love in the Afternoon" for her.
Her favorite Carpenters song was "I Need to Be In Love".
Won the 1966 "Battle of the Bands" contest at the Hollywood Bowl.
Loved to play softball/baseball and played the drums.
Won three Grammy Awards.
Had to have surgery on her ear, during the late 1970s, for impaired hearing.
Went to Bora Bora for her honeymoon.
Her cover version of "(They Long to Be) Close to You" was originally recorded by Dusty Springfield in 1964, shortly before Dionne Warwick recorded it that same year. Dusty's was scheduled for release as a single, and potential follow-up to her No. 3 hit "I Just Don't Know What to Do with Myself". However, it was not until three years later, in 1967, that it finally was released on her album "Where Am I Going?", with the beginning intro cut from its release.
During her solo endeavor, many of the demos Karen recorded were scrapped and decided not to be used for the album. Despite the rumor that only 11 tracks were completed and/or used, one more is indeed finished. It is a mellowed-out and heartfelt cover of Evie Sands's 1975 #50 Pop charter, "I Love Makin' Love to You". When A&M Records folded in 2000, it and 6 of out of the 8 demos began surfacing on the Internet. Fans who have heard Karen's version of "Makin' Love..." feel it is probably the best song to come out of her solo sessions. Sadly, it is unlikely it will ever official see the light of day, for many believe A&M discarded of the material when it closed its doors. Another song almost completed (even with backing vocals, but lacking orchestration) is a cover of Vicki Sue Robinson's "Don't Try to Win Me Back Again".
Has four nieces and one nephew: Richard Carpenter's five children.
After her recovery, she planned to go public about her battle with anorexia.
Her ex-husband Tom Burris was a real-estate developer. At the time they met, Tom was a 39-year-old divorce with an 18-year-old son. Karen was 30 years old.
Sang "Because We Are In Love" at her 1980 wedding. The song was written by her brother Richard Carpenter and friend John Bettis.
The rock band, Sonic Youth, wrote a song about Karen, called "Tunic (Song for Karen)". They also contributed to a 1994 tribute album for The Carpenters.
Had her own personalized driver's license plate which was: KAC3.
She was portrayed by a Barbie Doll in Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story (1988)
When she was 17, she went on the "Stillman Diet" with a doctor's guidance, and lost between 20 and 25 pounds
In 1998, the RIAA certified that "The Singles 1969 - 1973" had sold 7 million units since its release in 1973. This makes "The Singles 1969 - 1973" the Carpenters' bestselling album ever (as of 2005).
The Carpenters' second bestselling album is "Carpenters (the tan album)" - it has sold four million units since its release in 1971.
In 1975, "Please Mr. Postman" became the Carpenters' 10th and last certified Gold single.
In 1970, "(They Long to Be) Close to You" became the Carpenters' first certified Gold single.
She befriended Cherry Boone while getting treated for Anorexia. Boone herself was a recovered anorectic.
The Carpenters are still A&M Records' biggest and bestselling artists.
Her childhood home was 55 Hall Street (in New Haven, Connecticut). She attended school at Nathan Hale Elementary School in Connecticut.
Her family started the "Karen A. Carpenter Memorial Foundation", which raised money for research on anorexia nervosa and eating disorders. Today, the title has been changed to "Carpenter Family Foundation"... in addition to eating disorders, the foundation now funds the arts, entertainment and education.
Died a married woman. She was planning to officially sign divorce papers on the day she died.
The doorbell in her Century City condo chimed the first six notes of "We've Only Just Begun".
Her cousin, Mark Rudolph, appears in The Carpenters' album, "Now & Then".
Her sister-in-law is Mary Carpenter, her cousin.
By June 1981, the Carpenters had sold over 55 million albums.
On September 4, 1978, the Carpenters gave their last concert at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada.
By 1977, the Carpenters received 11 gold records from Japan.
In 1976, the Carpenters' tour of Japan was the largest grossing in Japanese history.
The Carpenters catalog leads all A&M Records artists for the most number of compilation albums created from original material. It is also the catalog most often reissued.
The Carpenters' famous Newville house, located at 9828 Newville Avenue, Downey, California, is pictured in their fifth album "Now & Then". This was also the same house where Karen died.
After the Carpenters became successful during the early 1970s, she and her brother bought two apartment buildings in Downey, California and called them "Close to You" and "Only Just Begun". Today, the "Close to You Apartments" can still be located at - 8356 East 5th, Downey, California.
She was a huge fan of Matt Monro and Spike Jones and His City Slickers.
The Carpenter Private Mausoleum in Westlake Village, California is a 46,000-pound, Partenope-style structure and was constructed in Texas over seven months. It is polished sunset red with beautiful warmth and color and lively crystal patterns. Similar structures have a price range of $600,000. Karen, Agnes, and Harold use up 3 out of 6 spaces in the mausoleum.
She was managed by Sherwin Bash from 1970 - 1975
She was managed by Terry Ellis from 1975 - 1976
She was managed by Jerry Weintraub from 1976 - 1983
Ranked #3 on Entertainment Tonight (1981)'s top 25 stories in 25 years.
Arguably, her best performance is a song which was never even released. It was a song opted not to be used on her infamous aborted solo album. It is a song penned by Paul Jabara ["Last Dance"] and Jay Asher, and is called "Something's Missing (In My Life)". Many who have heard the work-lead feel it truly relates to Karen's personal struggles and depth of her feelings. The song remains unmixed and without strings. The song some people regard as her best Carpenters song is a song which was her personal favorite called "I Need to Be in Love".
Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives". Volume One, 1981-1985, pages 133-134. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1998.
Portrayed by Cynthia Gibb in The Karen Carpenter Story (1989).
She and her brother, Richard Carpenter, were both awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Recording at 6931 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California on October 12, 1983.
Through her German ancestry, she and her brother are distantly related to Catholic reformer Martin Luther.
Karen Carpenter died on February 4, 1983, a month away from what would have been her 33rd birthday on March 2.
Enrolled in tap dance and ballet classes at age 4.
Was originally offered the songs 'Rock with You' and 'Off the Wall' but declined the offer to do these songs, declaring them 'too funky.' They were later given to Michael Jackson.
Was born with dark blond hair.
Was planning to dye her hair bronze when she died.
Her favorite T.V. shows included Dallas (1978), Marcus Welby, M.D. (1969), and I Love Lucy (1951).
Was planning to become either a nurse or an artist for her profession.
Said that she never 'Smoked, did drugs, or drink,' with the exception of occasional wine.
Was 19 years old when she was first signed to A & M Records.
The last show she ever watched was a recorded episode of Magnum, P.I. (1980) the night before she died.
Was very skilled at playing baseball and pitching, earning the nickname 'Butterball' in grade school.
Was a local favorite in her neighborhood as a child.
Expressed interest in starring in a movie or a musical.
Was a fan of the novel, 'The Best Little Girl in the World' (1978), as her copy of the novel had been worn out extensively.
First started recording music with her brother in 1965 and 1966.
Playboy Magazine ranked Karen as the best rock drummer of 1975 during it's annual poll.
Lived at 2222 Avenue of the Stars in Century City.
When she was young, she enjoyed playing baseball with the other kids in the neighborhood.
Made her last public appearance on January 11, 1983 at a photo call of past Grammy winners to celebrate the Grammy's 25th anniversary. She appeared tired and frail, but was vibrant and outgoing.
Was planning to go to the nail salon with Frenda Franklin the day she died in celebration of her divorce, as she was suppose to sign the papers to make her divorce from Tom Burris official that day.
Was godmother to her best friend Frenda Franklin's children Andrew and Ashley.
'Now', which Carpenter recorded in April 1982 during a two week vacation from her stay in New York, was the last song she ever recorded.
Another one of her favorite songs was 'Look to Your Dreams, which, although written in 1974 at the request of Karen, was not recorded until 1978, it was stored in the vaults of A&M because Richard believed it not to be commercially successful. In 1983, following the death of Karen, the song was finally completed and released on the "Voice of the Heart" album in October 1983.
On October 12, 1983, the Carpenters received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Wanted to name her children Kristi and Richard, after her brother.
She and her brother decided to record 'Honolulu City Lights' in 1978 after visiting Hawaii.
Was nicknamed 'Freckle Face' as well by her peers.

Personal Quotes (10)

We spent an awful lot of time trying to achieve perfection as close as we can come. It's the foremost thing in both of our minds, at all times.
We had to speak out and tell the truth about us as it is. It's hell living like a pair of angels.
[In 1976] Richard is 30, and I'm 26. But the letters we got when we said we weren't virgins, read as though we had committed a crime. People must have been dumb to have believed that we were that good.
(on her brother) If he listened to music, I listened to music. It was unconscious, but I idolized him so much and we were so close even though we were three years apart.
(on her 1975 collapse) I had been on a crash diet, and I carried on losing weight afterwards, even though I began eating like mad to counteract it. I'd become stricken with nervous tension which was burning away all my energy.
People never think of entertainers as being human. When you walk out on stage the audience think, "Nothing can go wrong with them." We get sick and we have headaches just like they do. When we are cut, we bleed.
I enjoy money. Not enough people in this world are happy. I'm determined to be contented, and having money from working makes it easier for me.
It's kind of nice to be remembered by your peers and your fans, because you can achieve a lot of success and be a creep too! But we try to be nice, just normal people.
We came out right in the middle of the hard-rock period... it was hard-rock everywhere! But we were ready to make our music, you know? And it was such a turnaround, I guess it caught people by surprise.
The image we have would be impossible for Mickey Mouse to maintain. We're just... normal people.

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