Edit
Eleanor Parker Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (4) | Trade Mark (1) | Trivia (22) | Personal Quotes (1)

Overview (5)

Date of Birth 26 June 1922Cedarville, Ohio, USA
Date of Death 9 December 2013Palm Springs, California, USA  (pneumonia)
Birth NameEleanor Jean Parker
Nicknames Elly
The Woman of a Thousand Faces
Height 5' 6" (1.68 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Eleanor Jean Parker was born on June 26, 1922, in Cedarville, Ohio, the last of three children born to a mathematics teacher and his wife. Eleanor caught the acting bug early and began performing in school plays. She was was so serious about becoming a thespian, she attended the Rice Summer Theatre on Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts beginning when she was 15 years old. She was offered her first screen-test by a 20th Century-Fox talent scout while attending Rice, but turned the opportunity down to gain professional stage experience in Cleveland after graduating from high school.

She moved on to California to continue her acting studies at the Pasadena Playhouse. It was there, while sitting in the audience of a play being put on at the Playhouse, she was again offered a screen-test -- this time from a Warner Brothers' scout -- and again declined, wanting to finish her first year at the Playhouse. When the year was up, Eleanor contacted Warner Brothers to take them up their offer of a screen-test, and was signed as a contract player two days after it was shot.

She was cast in Raoul Walsh's They Died with Their Boots On (1941), but her performance was left on the cutting room floor. She was then cast in short-subjects and given other assignments typically of tyro movie actors to enable them to learn their craft, such as voice-overs and appearing in other actors' screen tests. Finally, she was promoted to the B-picture unit, making her feature debut in Busses Roar (1942).

Her beauty meant she was not forgotten, and she was cast in one of Warner Brothers' biggest productions for the 1943 season, the pro-Soviet Mission to Moscow (1943) directed by Michael Curtiz and starring Walter Huston as the U.S. ambassador to the U.S.S.R. Eleanor played his daughter in the film, which became notorious in the McCarthy era for its glorification of "Uncle Joe" Stalin. The film proved significant to Eleanor as she met a future husband on the set, Navy Lieutenant. Fred L. Losse, Navy dentist. The marriage was a brief war-time affair, lasting from March 21, 1943, to December 5, 1944.

She went back to the Bs with The Mysterious Doctor (1943), then bounced back to the A-list for Between Two Worlds (1944), a remake of the Leslie Howard vehicle Outward Bound (1930) in which she played Paul Henreid's fiancé. (Both were dead from suicide, but in Hollywood logic, that didn't mean they couldn't gambol together on the silver screen.) Eleanor then made two more "B" quickies in 1944, Crime by Night (1944), and The Last Ride (1944) before graduating to the A-list for good with Pride of the Marines (1945) with John Garfield.

In a Warner Brothers remake, she took over the role Bette Davis had made good in (ironically, at rival R.K.O.) in the 1946 remake Of Human Bondage (1946). Though Parker would be gaining kudos and Oscar nominations by the beginning of the next decade, her portrait of Mildred was weak in comparison with Davis' dynamic performance.

Parker received the first of her three Best Actress Oscar nominations playing a prisoner in Caged (1950), for which she won the best actress award at the Venice Film Festival. She was also nominated the next year playing the cop's wife who shared a secret with the neighborhood abortionist in William Wyler's Detective Story (1951). Her third and last Oscar nod came for Interrupted Melody (1955), playing an opera singer struck down by polio. She could easily have been nominated that same year for her portrayal of Frank Sinatra's faux crippled wife in Otto Preminger's brooding masterpiece The Man with the Golden Arm (1955) adapted from the novel by Nelson Algren.

Parker proved herself to be a supremely talented and very versatile lead actress. The versatility was likely one of the reasons why she never quite became a major star. Audiences attending a movie which starred Parker never knew quite what to expect of her; if they even remembered she was the same actress, they had seen before in a different type of role in another picture. Her turns in Detective Story (1951) and The Man with the Golden Arm (1955) could not have been more different. Parker's stardom and subsequent fame (and remembrance) suffered from her focusing on being a serious actress and creating a character who fit the motion picture she was in, rather than playing a character again and again and again as most movie stars do. She is probably best remembered for the relatively tame part as the Baroness in The Sound of Music (1965).

She received an Outstanding Lead Actress Emmy nomination in 1963 for her appearance in The Eleventh Hour (1962) episode "Why Am I Grown So Cold?" Despite the success of The Sound of Music (1965) which was completely attributed to #1 Box Office sensation Julie Andrews is probably Parker's best remembered role. Her appearances in such fare as The Oscar (1966) (the cast of which the Playboy Magazine reviewer derided as "has-beens and never-will-bes") and the movie adaptation of Norman Mailer's indescribable existential-potboiler See You in Hell, Darling (1966) with fellow Oscar-nominee Stuart Whitman signaled that Miss Parker, indeed, was now inscribed on the list of the has-beens.

She had one last hurrah, winning a Golden Globe nomination in 1970 as Best Lead Actress for her role in the TV series Bracken's World (1969) but unfortunately, times had changed during the tumultuous 1960s. Her last film was in a Farrah Fawcett bomb, Sunburn (1979). Subsequently, she appeared very infrequently on TV, most recently in Dead on the Money (1991).

Eleanor Parker retired far too soon for those who were her fans and those who appreciated a superb actress. Although she received only half as many Oscar nominations as the great Deborah Kerr, surely like Kerr, an honorary Oscar recognizing one of the movies' great talents wouldn't be out of line, but remains improbable due to the lack of recognition that great talent engendered.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Jon C. Hopwood

Spouse (4)

Raymond Hirsch (17 April 1966 - 14 September 2001) (his death)
Paul Clemens (25 November 1954 - 9 March 1965) (divorced) (1 child)
Bert E. Friedlob (5 January 1946 - 10 November 1953) (divorced) (3 children)
Fred Losee (21 March 1943 - 5 December 1944) (divorced)

Trade Mark (1)

Often portrayed strong willed women

Trivia (22)

Mother of Susan Eleanor Friedlob (born March 7, 1948), Sharon Anne Friedlob (born April 18, 1950), Richard Parker Friedlob (born October 8, 1952) and Paul Clemens (born January 7, 1958, as Paul Day Clemens). All were born in Los Angeles County, California.
Discovered at age 18 by a Warner Bros. talent agent while merely sitting in the audience of the Pasadena Playhouse, and after just one semester of student training there.
Grandmother of Chase Parker.
Probably best known as the baroness in The Sound of Music (1965).
Broke the champagne bottle on the nose on the locomotive, launching the "California Zephyr" a well-known passenger train on its inaugural eastbound run from San Francisco to Chicago at the Western Pacific Depot (San Francisco) on March 19, 1949.
In Italy, most of her films were dubbed by Rosetta Calavetta. She was occasionally dubbed by Dhia Cristiani; Lidia Simoneschi; Rina Morelli; and Andreina Pagnani, most notably in The Sound of Music (1965).
Was required to have her blonde hair buzzed off to the scalp for her role as a female convict in Caged (1950).
She was honored as Turner Classic Movies Star of the Month for June 2013.
From 2003 until her death, she lived a quiet retirement in Palm Springs, California.
During the 1940s, she was the most popular actress for columnists to write about and was the favorite subject of such famed movie star commenter's as Dorothy Kilgallen, Hedda Hopper, Shelia Graham, and Louella Parsons.
In April 1946, she was chosen as the "National Buddy Poppy Girl" by the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States.
Turned down the female lead in Stallion Road (1947).
Got the female lead in The Very Thought of You (1944) after Ida Lupino withdrew her interest.
In May 1950, she was chosen as "Mother of the Year" by American florists.
On March 6, 1951, Parker had to abandon her sickbed and flee with her two small children when a fire broke out in her Beverly Hills home. She was in bed with the flu when she was aroused by the smell of smoke. She took her daughters, Susan, 3, and Sharon, 1, and left the house. The blaze destroyed a staircase and a wall with damages estimating at $500.
Along with Olivia de Havilland, she was considered for the female lead in The Country Girl (1954).
Her wedding to Paul Clemens was held at the famous Hollywood Methodist Church on Thanksgiving Day 1954.
Was a lifelong Democrat.
Upon her death, she was promptly cremated and her ashes were scattered at sea in the Pacific Ocean per her last wishes.
Her favorite actress was Carole Lombard.
Was friends with Andrea King, Lana Turner, and Jane Greer.
Died on her 'detective story' (1951) co-star Kirk Douglas' 97th birthday.

Personal Quotes (1)

When I'm spotted somewhere, it means that my characterizations haven't covered up Eleanor Parker the person. I prefer it the other way around.

See also

Other Works | Publicity Listings | Official Sites | Contact Info

Contribute to This Page