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Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story (1988)

Not Rated  |   |  Short, Music  |  30 April 1988 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 1,844 users  
Reviews: 39 user | 29 critic

Karen Carpenter's battle with anorexia nervosa and the cultural influence of the Carpenters in the 70s.


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Title: Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story (1988)

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Credited cast:
Merrill Gruver ...
Karen (voice)
Michael Edwards ...
Richard (voice)
Melissa Brown ...
Mother (voice)
Dad / Mr. A&M (voice)
Nannie Doyle ...
Cherry Boone (voice)
Cynthia Schneider ...
Dionne Warwick (voice)
Larry Kole ...
Announcer (voice)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Joanne Barrett
Gwen Kraus ...
Narrator (voice)
Michelle Manenti
Moira McCarty
Himself - President of the United States (archive footage)
Celia Pearce
Himself - President of the United States (archive footage)


Karen and Richard Carpenter are young musicians living with their parents in Downey, California. Richard shows great promise as a songwriter and Karen, who plays drums, begins to sing vocals, thrusting the duo into stardom. They become wildly successful, Karen's striking voice and Richard's soft melodies capturing the essence of the nation's yearning for calm after the turbulent Sixties. But Karen strives for perfection and becomes increasingly fearful of her weight, despite being a slender woman. Eventually she is diagnosed with anorexia nervosa, a mental disease relating to stress, lack of control, and low self-esteem. A fight for Karen's life ensues. Written by Jim Beaver <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Short | Music


Not Rated




Release Date:

30 April 1988 (USA)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


This movie is a biography of Karen Carpenter with a slight twist - all of the parts are played out by Ken and Barbie style dolls. See more »


In the opening sequence, a crew member can be glimpsed at the end of the hallway as the camera rounds the corner on its way into Karen's bedroom. See more »


Narrator: Following World War II, and the end of rationing in the early 50s, America was reacquainted with food as plentiful and cheap. There were vast changes in food delivery, availability and storage. Refrigerators, already a part of the American kitchen, became common place and thus eliminated the need for daily shopping. The growth of supermarkets with their rows and rows of dairy products, canned goods, meats, condiments, bakery goods, vegetables, fruits and staples, brought a large display of food...
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User Reviews

Brilliance and barbie dolls

I found out about this movie in the 50 greatest cult films issue of Entertainment Weekly. It sounded like a funny, semi-serious biography of Karen Carpenter, whose music I do happen to enjoy. When I finally watched it, I realized that the movie was a very serious and in depth look at anorexia. It's haunting, brilliant, moving, and touching. I had never seen the life of an anorexic person played out so well as by that barbie doll. It's a shame that this film has not been widely distributed, because it's a darn fine movie that is very educational.

11 of 13 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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