Carroll Baker Biography


Birthday: May 28, 1931 (Gemini)

Born In: Johnstown, Pennsylvania, United States

Carroll Baker is a former American actress popular as both a serious dramatic actress and a blonde bombshell during the 1950s and 1960s. Her wavy blonde hair, curvaceous figure and sex appeal often drew comparison with another sex symbol of her era, Marilyn Monroe. As talented as she was beautiful, Baker was a versatile actress who could play the role of a naïve ingénue and a manipulative sex kitten with the same aplomb. She had a difficult childhood as her parents separated when she was a young girl following which her mother struggled as a single parent to raise Baker and her younger sister. Active in marching band and school musicals as a teenager, she also worked a stint as a magician's assistant on the vaudeville circuit before deciding to become an actress. She took lessons at the Actors Studio and studied under Lee Strasberg before making her film debut with a small part in the musical ‘Easy to Love.’ She soon ventured into Broadway as well, and before long was a popular actress both on stage and in films. While her sultry looks led her to be termed a sex symbol, her poignant acting skills earned her respect as a serious dramatic actress.
Quick Facts

Age: 92 Years, 92 Year Old Females


Spouse/Ex-: Donald Burton (m. 1978–2007), Jack Garfein (m. 1955–1969), Louie Ritter (m. 1953–1953)

father: William Watson Baker

mother: Virginia Duffy

children: Blanche Baker, Herschel Garfein

Actresses American Women

Notable Alumni: Actors Studio, St. Petersburg College

U.S. State: Pennsylvania

Ancestry: Irish American, Polish American

More Facts

education: Actors Studio, St. Petersburg College

Childhood & Early Life
Carroll Baker was born on May 28, 1931, in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, to Edith Gertrude (née Duffy) and William Watson Baker, who was a traveling salesman. Her parents broke up when Carroll was eight and she went to live with her mother and younger sister. Her childhood was a difficult one spent in poverty as her mother struggled as a single parent.
She attended Greensburg Central Catholic High School where she was a debate team member and active in the marching band and school musicals. She then proceeded to the St. Petersburg College (then St. Pete Junior College).
During her late teens she began working as a magician's assistant on the vaudeville circuit and joined a dance company. She eventually moved to New York City where she worked as a nightclub dancer and also took a job as a chorus girl in traveling vaudeville shows.
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Carroll Baker enrolled at the Actors Studio in 1952 and studied under Lee Strasberg. Naturally talented, she learned method acting with her classmates Mike Nichols, Rod Steiger, Shelley Winters, and Marilyn Monroe.
She appeared in a few commercials before making her debut in a small role in the musical ‘Easy to Love’ (1953). This led to offers to appear on the Broadway, followed by more film roles.
In 1956, she played the supporting part of Luz Benedict II in ‘Giant’ opposite Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, and James Dean. The same year, she also appeared as Baby Doll Meighan in the film ‘Baby Doll’ as a young virgin bride. The film, with its sexually explicit themes, helped create a “sex symbol” image for Baker.
Following the success of ‘Baby Doll,’ she received a steady stream of film roles that required her to play the sex symbol. Not wanting to be stereotyped, she refused many of these films and chose to appear in more serious acting roles in movies such as ‘The Miracle’ (1959) in which she played a nun, and ‘Something Wild’ (1961) in which she portrayed a rape survivor.
She played a cynical, alcoholic movie star in the 1964 hit ‘The Carpetbaggers’ which once again brought her sex symbol image to the fore. Following this film, she was typecast as a blonde bombshell in many other movies such as ‘Sylvia’ (1965) and ‘Harlow’ (1965).
The 1960s marked a difficult period in her personal life. Having separated from her husband, she was a single parent to her two children. During this time she moved to Italy where she appeared in films such as ‘Her Harem’ (1967), ‘The Sweet Body of Deborah’ (1968), ‘The Devil Has Seven Faces’ (1971), and ‘Baba Yaga’ (1973).
In 1977, she returned to American films with ‘Bad’ in which she played Hazel Aiken, a housewife and a hairdresser. During the 1980s, she evolved into a character actor and appeared in films like ‘The Secret Diary of Sigmund Freud’ (1984), ‘Hitler's SS: Portrait in Evil’ (1985), and ‘Ironweed’ (1987).
During the later part of her career she appeared in many small independent films along with mainstream ones and also made several television appearances. David Fincher's thriller ‘The Game’ (1997) was one of her most successful later roles. In addition to her acting career she is also the author of three books.
Major Works
Carroll Baker is best known for her role as a sexy 19-year-old virgin bride in the black comedy ‘Baby Doll.’ The film, though controversial for its implicit sexual themes, was also a hugely popular one that established Baker’s status as a sex symbol. The film was also a critical success, earning nominations for several Golden Globe awards, as well as four Academy Awards and four BAFTA Awards.

She portrayed Eve Prescott Rawlings in the Western film ‘How the West Was Won,’ sharing the screen space with the likes of Henry Fonda, Carolyn Jones, Karl Malden, Gregory Peck, George Peppard, and Robert Preston. A super hit at the time of its release, the film was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress as being deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" in 1997.
Awards & Achievements
She received the Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year-Actress in 1957. The same year, she also won the Hasty Pudding Theatricals Award for "Woman of the Year."
In 2009, she received The National Arts Club's Medal of Honor.
She was awarded Lifetime Achievement Awards from Breckenridge (Colorado) Film Festival (1997), the Hoboken (2011) and Fort Lauderdale International Film Festivals (2012).
Personal Life & Legacy
She married Louie Ritter in 1953. She later claimed that he had raped her in the early stages of their relationship. The marriage ended within a year.
Her second marriage was to director Jack Garfein, a Holocaust survivor, in 1955. The couple had two children. This marriage too ended in 1969.
She married for the final time in 1978. Her third husband was British theater actor Donald Burton. They remained together until Burton’s death in 2007.

Carroll Baker Movies

1. The Big Country (1958)

  (Romance, Western)

2. Giant (1956)

  (Western, Drama)

3. Baby Doll (1956)


4. The Game (1997)

  (Thriller, Drama, Mystery)

5. Bridge to the Sun (1961)

  (War, Romance, Drama)

6. How the West Was Won (1962)


7. Something Wild (1961)


8. Cheyenne Autumn (1964)

  (Drama, Western, History)

9. Sylvia (1965)


10. But Not for Me (1959)

  (Comedy, Romance)


Golden Globe Awards
1957 Most Promising Newcomer - Female Baby Doll (1956)
1957 Most Promising Newcomer - Female Giant (1956)

See the events in life of Carroll Baker in Chronological Order

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