Anne Baxter in You're My Everything (1949)
May 7, 1923|
Michigan City, Indiana, U.S.
|Died||December 12, 1985
Lenox Hill Hospital, New York, U.S.
|Cause of death||Stroke|
|Resting place||Lloyd Jones Cemetery, Spring Green, Wisconsin|
(m. 1946; div. 1953)
(m. 1960; div. 1969)
(m. 1977; his death 1977)
|Relatives||Frank Lloyd Wright
John Lloyd Wright
Eric Lloyd Wright
Elizabeth Wright Ingraham
|Awards||Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress (1947)
Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress (1947)
Anne Baxter (May 7, 1923 - December 12, 1985) was an American actress, star of Hollywood films, Broadway productions, and television series. She won an Academy Award and a Golden Globe and was nominated for an Emmy.
Granddaughter of Frank Lloyd Wright, Baxter studied acting with Maria Ouspenskaya and had some stage experience before making her film debut in 20 Mule Team (1940). She became a contract player of 20th Century Fox and was loaned out to RKO Pictures for a role in Orson Welles' The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), one of her earlier films. In 1947, she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Sophie MacDonald in The Razor's Edge (1946). In 1951, she received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress for the title role in All About Eve (1950). She worked with several of Hollywood's greatest directors, including Alfred Hitchcock in I Confess (1953), Fritz Lang in The Blue Gardenia (1953), and Cecil B. DeMille in The Ten Commandments (1956).
Baxter was born in Michigan City, Indiana, to Catherine Dorothy (née Wright; 1894-1979)--whose father was the famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright--and Kenneth Stuart Baxter (1893-1977), an executive with the Seagrams Distillery Company. When Baxter was five, she appeared in a school play and, as her family had moved to New York when she was six years old, Baxter continued to act. She was raised in Westchester County, New York and attended Brearley. At age 10, Baxter attended a Broadway play starring Helen Hayes, and was so impressed that she declared to her family that she wanted to become an actress. By the age of 13, she had appeared on Broadway in Seen but Not Heard. During this period, Baxter learned her acting craft as a student of the famed teacher Maria Ouspenskaya. In 1939, she was cast as Katherine Hepburn's little sister in the play The Philadelphia Story, but Hepburn did not like Baxter's acting style and she was replaced during the show's pre-Broadway run. Rather than giving up, she turned to Hollywood.
At 16, Baxter screen-tested for the role of Mrs. DeWinter in Rebecca. Director Alfred Hitchcock deemed Baxter too young for the role, but she soon secured a seven-year contract with 20th Century Fox. In 1940, she was loaned to MGM for her first film 20 Mule Team, in which she was billed fourth after Wallace Beery, Leo Carrillo, and Marjorie Rambeau. She worked with John Barrymore in her next film The Great Profile (1940) and appeared as the ingénue in the Jack Benny vehicle Charley's Aunt (1941). She received star billing in Swamp Water (1941) and The Pied Piper (1942), which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture.
Baxter was loaned to RKO to appear in director Orson Welles' The Magnificent Ambersons (1942). She was Tyrone Power's leading lady in Crash Dive (1943), her first Technicolor film. In 1943, she played a French maid in a North African hotel (with a credible French accent) in Billy Wilder's Five Graves to Cairo, a Paramount production. She became a popular star in World War II dramas and received top billing in The North Star (1943), The Sullivans (1944), The Eve of St. Mark (1944), and Sunday Dinner for a Soldier (1944), co-starring her future husband John Hodiak. Baxter later recalled, "I was getting almost as much mail as Betty Grable. I was our boys' idealized girl next door."
She was loaned to United Artists for the leading role in the film noir Guest in the House (1944), and appeared in A Royal Scandal (1945), with Tallulah Bankhead and Charles Coburn; Smoky (1946), with Fred MacMurray; Angel on My Shoulder (1946), with Paul Muni and Claude Rains.
Baxter co-starred with Tyrone Power and Gene Tierney in 1946's The Razor's Edge, for which she won both the Academy Award and the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress. Baxter later recounted that The Razor's Edge contained her only great performance, a hospital scene where the character Sophie "loses her husband, child and everything else." She said she relived the death of her brother, who had died at age three.
She was loaned to Paramount for a top-billed role opposite William Holden in Blaze of Noon (1947) and to MGM for a supporting role as Clark Gable's wife in Homecoming (1948). Back at 20th Century Fox, she played a wide variety of roles: a lawyer in love with Cornel Wilde in The Walls of Jericho (1948); Tyrone Power's Irish romantic interest in The Luck of the Irish (1948); a tomboy in Yellow Sky (1948), with Gregory Peck and Richard Widmark; a 1920s flapper in You're My Everything (1949), with Dan Dailey; and another tomboy in A Ticket to Tomahawk (1950), again with Dailey.
In 1950, Baxter was chosen to co-star in All About Eve largely because of a resemblance to Claudette Colbert, who originally was cast but dropped out and was replaced by Bette Davis. The original idea was to have Baxter's character gradually come to mirror Colbert's over the course of the film. Baxter received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress for the title role of Eve Harrington. She said she modeled the role on a bitchy understudy she had for her debut performance in the Broadway play Seen But Not Heard at the age of 13 and who had threatened to "finish her off."
Her next Fox film Follow the Sun (1951) co-starred Glenn Ford as champion golfer Ben Hogan; Baxter played Hogan's wife Valerie. She was top-billed in the western The Outcasts of Poker Flat (1950), with Dale Robertson, and was part of an ensemble cast in O. Henry's Full House (1952), her last project for Fox. The comedy My Wife's Best Friend, with MacDonald Carey, was her second and last Fox film released in 1952. Baxter left 20th Century Fox in 1953.
In 1953, Baxter contracted a two-picture deal for Warner Brothers. Her first was opposite Montgomery Clift in Alfred Hitchcock's I Confess; the second was the Fritz Lang whodunit The Blue Gardenia, in which she played a woman accused of murder.
In June 1954, Baxter won the coveted part of the Egyptian princess and queen Nefretiri, one of her more memorable roles, in Cecil B. DeMille's award-winning The Ten Commandments. Her scenes were shot on Paramount's sound stages in 1955, and she attended the film's New York and Los Angeles premieres in November 1956. Despite criticisms of her interpretation of Nefretiri, DeMille and The Hollywood Reporter both thought her performance was "very good," and The New York Daily News described her as "remarkably effective." She later remembered the film in an interview:
DeMille asked me to come in. His office at Paramount was bursting with books, props, rolls of linens. I told him I'd have to wear an Egyptian false nose and he pounded the table. "No. Baxter, your Irish nose stays in this picture." He acted out my part and I kept nodding, and I walked out with the part. The sound stage sets were magnificent. It was all corny, sure, but DeMille knew it was corny--that's what he wanted, what he loved. I loved slinking around-- really, this was silent film acting but with dialogue.
She worked regularly in television in the 1960s. She appeared as one of the mystery guests on What's My Line?. She also starred as guest villain "Zelda The Great" in episodes 9 and 10 of the Batman series. She appeared as another villain, "Olga, Queen of the Cossacks", opposite Vincent Price's "Egghead" in three episodes of the show's third season. She also played an old flame of Raymond Burr on his crime series Ironside.
In the 1970s, Baxter was a frequent guest and guest host on The Mike Douglas Show. She portrayed a murderous film star on an episode of Columbo, called "Requiem for a Falling Star". In this episode, she portrayed a fading movie star called Nora Chandler, perhaps in homage to the fading star Margo Channing of All About Eve. In 1971, she had a role in Fools' Parade as an aging prostitute who helps characters played by Jimmy Stewart, Strother Martin, and Kurt Russell escape from the villain, played by George Kennedy, before an act of betrayal seals her fate. In 1983, Baxter starred in the television series Hotel, replacing Bette Davis after Davis became ill.
Baxter married actor John Hodiak on July 7, 1946 at her parents' home in Burlingame, California. They had one daughter, Katrina, born in 1951. Baxter and Hodiak divorced in 1953. At the time, she said they were "basically incompatible," but in her book she blamed herself for the separation. "I had loved John as much," she wrote. "But we'd eventually congealed in the longest winter in the world. Daily estrangement. Things unsaid. Even a fight would have warmed us. To my shame, I'd picked one at last in order to unfreeze the word 'divorce.'" Hodiak died in 1955.
In the mid-1950s, after her divorce from Hodiak, Baxter began a relationship with her publicist Russell Birdwell, who took control of her career and directed her in The Come On (1956). The couple formed Baxter-Birdwell Productions to make films on a 10-year plan; Baxter would star in the films and Birdwell would work behind the camera.Princeton University Library has a collection of 175 letters by Baxter to Birdwell.
In 1960, Baxter married her second husband Randolph Galt, an American owner of a neighboring cattle station near Sydney, Australia, where she was filming Summer of the Seventeenth Doll. After the birth of their second daughter, Maginel, back in California, Galt unexpectedly announced that they were moving to a 4,452 hectare (11,000 acre) ranch south of Grants, New Mexico. They then moved to Hawaii (his home state) before settling back in Brentwood, California. Baxter and Galt were divorced in 1969. In 1976, Baxter recounted her courtship with Galt (whom she called "Ran") and their experiences at Giro in a well-received book called Intermission. Melissa Galt, Baxter's first daughter with Galt, became an interior designer and then a business coach, speaker and seminar provider. Maginel became a cloistered Catholic nun, reportedly living in Rome, Italy.
Baxter married again, in 1977 to David Klee, a prominent stockbroker. It was a brief marriage; Klee died unexpectedly from illness. The newlywed couple had purchased a sprawling property in Easton, Connecticut, which they extensively remodeled; however, Klee did not live to see the renovations completed. Although she maintained a residence in West Hollywood, Baxter considered her Connecticut home to be her primary residence. Baxter was passionate about music and was an active benefactor of the Connecticut Early Music Society.
Baxter was a longtime friend of celebrated costume designer Edith Head, whom she first met on the set of Five Graves to Cairo. Head appeared with Baxter in a cameo role in "Requiem for a Falling Star", a 1973 Columbo episode. Upon Head's death in 1981, Melissa Galt, who was also a goddaughter of Head, was bequeathed Head's jewelry collection.
Baxter suffered a stroke on December 4, 1985, while hailing a taxi on Madison Avenue in New York City. Baxter remained on life support for eight days in New York's Lenox Hill hospital, until family members agreed that brain function had ceased. She died on December 12, aged 62. Baxter is buried on the estate of Frank Lloyd Wright at Lloyd Jones Cemetery in Spring Green, Wisconsin. She was survived by her three daughters.
|1947||Golden Globe Award||Best Supporting Actress - Motion Picture||The Razor's Edge||Won|
|1947||Academy Award||Best Supporting Actress||The Razor's Edge||Won|
|1951||Best Actress||All About Eve||Nominated|
|1969||Primetime Emmy Award||Outstanding Single Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role||The Name of the Game ("The Bobby Currier Story")||Nominated|
|1945||Old Gold Comedy Theatre||Nothing but the Truth|
|1948||Lux Radio Theatre||The Luck of the Irish|
|1953||Theatre Guild on the Air||Trial by Forgery|