Eleanor Parker

Eleanor Parker

Birth name: Eleanor Jean Parker
Born: June 26, 1922
Died: December 9, 2013 (at age 91)
Birthplace: Cedarville, Ohio, U.S.

Eleanor Jean Parker (June 26, 1922 - December 9, 2013) was an American actress who appeared in some 80 movies and television series. An actress of notable versatility, she was called Woman of a Thousand Faces by Doug McClelland, author of a biography of Parker by the same title.

At the age of 18, Parker was signed by Warner Brothers in 1941. She was nominated three times for the Academy Award for Best Actress in the 1950s, for Caged (1950), Detective Story (1951) and Interrupted Melody (1955). Her role in Caged also won her the Volpi Cup for Best Actress at the Venice Film Festival. One of her most memorable roles was that of "the Baroness" in The Sound of Music (1965).


Parker was born on June 26, 1922, in Cedarville, Ohio, the daughter of Lola (Isett) and Lester Day Parker. She moved with her family to East Cleveland, Ohio, where she attended public schools and graduated from Shaw High School. She wanted to be an actor from an early age and appeared in a number of school plays. After graduation she went to Martha's Vineyard to work on her acting. She got a job as a waitress and was offered a screen test by 20th Century Fox but turned it down. Wanting to focus on films, she moved to California and started appearing at the Pasadena Playhouse.

Warner Bros

She was in the audience one night at Pasadena Playhouse when spotted by a Warners Bros talent scout, Irving Kumin. He offered her a test and she accepted; the studio signed her to a long term contract.

She was cast that year in the film They Died with Their Boots On, but her scenes were cut.

Her actual film debut was as Nurse Ryan in Soldiers in White in 1942.

By 1946, Parker had starred in Between Two Worlds, Hollywood Canteen, Pride of the Marines, Never Say Goodbye, and played the key role of Mildred Rogers in the remake of Of Human Bondage.

She was suspended twice by Warners for refusing parts in films - in Stallion Road, where she was replaced by Alexis Smith, and Love and Learn.

She made Voice of the Turtle in early 1947 then had two years off, during which time she married and had a baby. She turned down a role in The Hasty Heart which she wanted to do, but it would have meant going to England and she did not want to leave her baby alone during its first year. "I probably received my salary for only six months during 1947 and 1948 but I can't regret that," she said. "All my life I wanted a child and anything that might happen to me professionally on that account would hardly seem a loss."

She returned in Chain Lightning. "I've had my fling at roles that have little or no relation to most people's lives," she said. "I want to keep away from such assignments as I can from now on even though, as some may say, they mean exercising your skill and talent in acting." Parker broke the champagne bottle on the nose of the California Zephyr train, to mark its inaugural journey from San Francisco on March 19, 1949.

In 1950, Parker was nominated for Caged, in which she played a prison inmate. For this role, she won the 1950 Volpi Cup for Best Actress at the Venice Film Festival.

In February 1950 Parker left Warner Bros. after having been under contract there for eight years. Parker had understood that she would star in a film called Safe Harbor, but Warner Bros. apparently had no intention of making it. Because of this misunderstanding, her agents negotiated her release.


In 1951 Parker signed a contract with Paramount for one film a year, with an option for outside films. She was nominated for the Oscar in 1951 for her performance as Mary McLeod, the woman who doesn't understand the position of her unstable detective husband (played by Kirk Douglas) in Detective Story.


She followed Detective Story with her portrayal of an actress in love with a swashbuckling nobleman (played by Stewart Granger) in Scaramouche.

After making two films for MGM, Parker was making a third when she signed a long term contract to the studio.

Parker then starred with Charlton Heston as a 1900s mail-order bride in The Naked Jungle, directed by Byron Haskin and produced by George Pal.

Also in 1955, Parker appeared in the film adaptation of the National Book Award-winner The Man with the Golden Arm, directed by Otto Preminger. She played Zosh, the supposedly wheelchair-bound wife of heroin-addicted, would-be jazz drummer Frankie Machine (Frank Sinatra).

In 1956, she was billed above the title with Clark Gable for the Raoul Walsh-directed Western comedy The King and Four Queens. A year later, she starred in another W. Somerset Maugham novel, a remake of The Painted Veil in the role originated by Greta Garbo, released as The Seventh Sin. She also appeared in Home from the Hill, co-starring with Robert Mitchum; in A Hole in the Head, re-teaming with Sinatra, and in Return to Peyton Place, a 1961 sequel to the hit 1957 film.

Known mainly for dramatic roles, Parker was an adept comedian. In the 1951 A Millionaire for Christy, she played a secretary sent to notify a man of his inheritance, co-starring with Fred MacMurray.

Parker's best-known screen role was playing the Baroness Schraeder in the 1965 Oscar-winning musical The Sound of Music. The Baroness was famously and poignantly unsuccessful in keeping the affections of Georg von Trapp (played by Christopher Plummer) after he falls in love with Maria (played by Julie Andrews).

In 1966, she played an alcoholic widow in the crime drama Warning Shot, a talent scout who discovers a Hollywood star in The Oscar, and a rich alcoholic in An American Dream. From the late 1960s, television would occupy more of her energies.

In 1963, Parker appeared in the NBC medical drama about psychiatry The Eleventh Hour in the episode "Why Am I Grown So Cold?", for which she was nominated for an Emmy Award as Outstanding Single Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role. In 1964, she appeared in the episode "A Land More Cruel" on the ABC drama about psychiatry, Breaking Point. In 1968, she portrayed a spy in How to Steal the World, a film originally shown as a two-part episode on NBC's The Man from U.N.C.L.E..

In 1969-70, Parker starred in the television series Bracken's World, for which she was nominated for a 1970 Golden Globe Award as Best TV Actress - Drama. She also appeared in the Ghost Story episode "Half a Death" (1973), a suspense-thriller about a wealthy woman reconciling the lives of her two daughters.

Parker starred in a number of theatrical productions, including the role of Margo Channing in the Broadway musical version of the film All About Eve, Applause. The role was originally played in the musical by Lauren Bacall and in All About Eve by Bette Davis. In 1976, she played Maxine in the Ahmanson Theater revival of The Night of the Iguana. She quit the Circle in the Square Theatre revival of Pal Joey during previews. She wrote the preface to the book How Your Mind Can Keep You Well, a meditation technique developed by Roy Masters. She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6340 Hollywood Boulevard.

Personal life

Parker was married four times:

  • Fred Losee — married in 1943, divorced in 1944.
  • Bert E. Friedlob — married in 1946, divorced in 1953; the marriage produced three children.
  • Paul Clemens, American portrait painter — married in 1954, divorced in 1965; the marriage produced one child, actor Paul Clemens.
  • Raymond N. Hirsch — married in 1966, widowed on September 14, 2001 when Hirsch died of esophageal cancer.

She was the grandmother of one-time child actor Chase Parker


Eleanor Parker died on December 9, 2013 at a medical facility in Palm Springs, California of complications of pneumonia. She was 91.


Parker was raised a Protestant and later converted to Judaism, telling the New York Daily News columnist Kay Gardella in August 1969, "I think we're all Jews at heart... I wanted to convert for a long time." She later embraced Messianic-Judaism and was a supporter of Messianic Jewish philosopher, teacher, and commentator Roy Masters, owner of the Foundation of Human Understanding in Grant's Pass, Oregon. In 1978, she wrote the forward to Roy's book, How Your Mind Can Keep You Well.

Academy Award nominations

  • 1950 - Caged
  • 1951 - Detective Story
  • 1955 - Interrupted Melody


Year Title Character Notes
1941 They Died with Their Boots On Bit Part (scenes deleted)
1942 The Big Shot Telephone Operator
Busses Roar (1942) Norma
Soldiers in White Nurse Ryan short subject
Men of the Sky (1942) Mrs. Frank Bickley short subject
Vaudeville Days (1942) Colleen uncredited
short subject
1943 The Mysterious Doctor Letty Carstairs
Mission to Moscow Emlen Davies
Destination Tokyo Mike's Wife on Record (voice) uncredited
1944 Between Two Worlds Ann Bergner
Atlantic City Bathing Beauty uncredited
Crime by Night Irene Carr
The Last Ride (1944) Kitty Kelly
The Very Thought of You Janet Wheeler
Hollywood Canteen Herself cameo
1945 Pride of the Marines Ruth Hartley
1946 Of Human Bondage Mildred Rogers
Never Say Goodbye Ellen Gayley
1947 Escape Me Never Fenella MacLean
Always Together Herself cameo
The Voice of the Turtle Sally Middleton
1948 The Woman in White Laurie Fairlie
Ann Catherick
1949 It's a Great Feeling (1949) Herself cameo
1950 Chain Lightning Joan "Jo" Holloway
Caged Marie Allen
Won-Volpi Cup
Nominated-Academy Award for Best Actress
Three Secrets Susan Adele Connors Chase
1951 Valentino Joan Carlisle
Sarah Gray
A Millionaire for Christy Christabel "Christy" Sloane
Detective Story Mary McLeod Nominated-Academy Award for Best Actress
1952 Scaramouche Lenore
Above and Beyond Lucey Tibbets
1953 Escape from Fort Bravo Carla Forester
1954 The Naked Jungle Joanna Leiningen
Valley of the Kings Ann Barclay Mercedes
1955 Many Rivers to Cross Mary Stuart Cherne
Interrupted Melody Marjorie Lawrence Nominated - Academy Award for Best Actress
The Man with the Golden Arm Zosh Machine
1956 The King and Four Queens Sabina McDade
1957 Lizzie Elizabeth
Beth Richmond
The Seventh Sin Carol Carwin
1959 A Hole in the Head Eloise Rogers
1960 Home from the Hill Hannah Hunnicutt
The Gambler, the Nun, and the Radio Sister Cecelia
1961 Return to Peyton Place Connie Rossi
1962 Madison Avenue Anne Tremaine
Checkmate (TV series) Marion Bannion
Gussie Hill
episode: The Renaissance of Gussie Hill
1963 The Eleventh Hour (1962 TV series) Connie Folsom episode: Why Am I Grown So Cold?
Nominated - Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Single Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre Fern Selman episode: Seven Miles of Bad Road
1964 Panic Button Louise Harris
Kraft Suspense Theatre Dorian Smith episode: Knight's Gambit
1965 The Sound of Music Baroness Elsa Schraeder
Convoy (TV series) Kate Fowler episode: Lady on the Rock
1966 The Oscar Sophie Cantaro
An American Dream Deborah Kelly Rojack
1967 Warning Shot Mrs. Doris Ruston
The Tiger and the Pussycat Esperia Vincenzini
1968 The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Margitta Kingsley episode: The Seven Wonders of the World Affair
1969 Eye of the Cat Aunt Danny
Hans Brinker Dame Brinker
Bracken's World Sylvia Caldwell episodes 1-16
Nominated - Golden Globe Award for Best Actress - Television Series Drama
1971 Maybe I'll Come Home in the Spring Claire Miller
Vanished (TV movie) Sue Greer
1972 Circle of Fear Paula Burgess episode: Half a Death
Home for the Holidays Alex Morgan
1973 The Great American Beauty Contest (TV movie) Peggy Lowery
1975 Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (TV movie) Christine Drayton
1978 Hawaii Five-O Mrs. Kincaid episode: The Big Aloha
The Bastard Lady Amberly
1979 Sunburn Mrs. Thoren
She's Dressed to Kill (TV movie) Regine Danton
1980 Once Upon a Spy (TV movie) The Lady
Vega$ Laurie Bishop episode: A Deadly Victim
1981 Madame X (1981 film) Katherine Richardson
1979-1982 The Love Boat Rosie Strickland
Alicia Bradbury
episode: A Dress to Remember
episode: Buddy and Portia's Story/Julie's Story/Carol and Doug's Story/Peter and Alicia's Story
1977-1983 Fantasy Island Peggy Atwood
Eunice Hollander Baines
episode: Nurses Night Out
episode: Yesterday's Love/Fountain of Youth
episode: Pilot
1983 Hotel (TV series) Leslie episode: The Offer
1984 Finder of Lost Loves Nora Spencer episode: The Gift
1986 Murder, She Wrote Maggie Tarrow episode: Stage Struck
1991 Dead on the Money (TV movie) Catherine Blake

Source: "Eleanor Parker". IMDb. Retrieved 25 September 2013.

[ Source: Wikipedia ]

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