Legendary actress, Anne Baxter, was born on May 7, 1923 in Michigan City, IN. Baxter died at the age of 62 on Dec 12, 1985 in New York City, NY and was laid to rest in Lloyd-Jones Cemetery (on the estate of Frank Lloyd Wright) in Spring Green, Sauk County, WI.
Early Life and Career
Anne Baxter was born on May 7th, 1923 in Michigan City, Indiana to a comfortable middle class life. Her father, Kenneth, had a lofty position as one of Seagrams Distillery's most prominent executives and her mother, Catherine, was the daughter of famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright. While still in her most formative years, the Baxters family packed their bags and moved to Kenneth's hometown of New York City. It was there that little Anne would discover her love for acting when the ten year old went to a play starring Helen Hayes. Baxter was so impressed that she decided then and there that she was going to be an actress. Her parents were incredibly encourages of their only child's dreams and promptly enrolled Baxter in the Theodora Irvine School of Theatre where she studied for two years.
At the age of 13, Baxter made her Broadway debut with the Arthur Sircom staged Seen But Not Heard. The play was a hit and so was Baxter, earning rave reviews from New York's toughest theater critics. Despite her immediate success, it would be two years before Anne would grace the Broadway stage with her talents, as the young Baxter's parents deemed a proper education more important than her stage work. Her family's wealth and Baxter's brief Broadway successes, however, did assured the girl would study at the best of New York City's private schools. She remained active in the theatre, taking private lessons and appearing in summer stock productions. She returned to Broadway in 1938, first she playing the innocent Lita Hammond in comedy There's Always a Breeze and then Rosaline in the drama Madame, Capet. The talented young actress soon began to attract attention across the coast, with Hollywood keeping Baxter in their sights. In 1940 she was invited to Tinsel Town by 20th-Century Fox, wanting her to read for their upcoming production Rebecca. Although the studio thought the 16 year old too young for the part of the second Mrs. de Winters, they none-the-less where impressed with the young actress and offered Baxter a long-term contract. After convincing her parent that's she was mature enough and finding a family friend, actor Nigel Bruce, to live with, Baxter packed her bags and headed west.
Despite wasting little haste to sign Baxter, Fox was initially clueless as to how to utilize their newest asset and began her film career by loaning her out to MGM studios for the Richard Thrope western 20 Mule Team. She returned to Fox for a supporting role in The Great Profile, opposite John Barrymore. In 1941 she played a supporting role in the forgettable comedy Charley's Aunt. Later that she had a strong supporting role in the Jean Renoir melodramatic proto-noir Swamp Water. Although the film was popular with audiences and did quite well at the box-office, critics were not very impressed with Baxter's loud, over reaching performance. The next year, however, she quickly rebounded when Baxter was loaned to RKO studios for Orson Welles second feature film, The Magnificent Ambersons. Under Welles' careful direction, Baxter was able to give a nuisance performance and gain some critical attention for her role. The next year Baxter would see would see her star rising with three prime roles. She appeared opposite Tyrone Power and Dana Andrew in the wartime drama Crash Dive. She was then loaned out to Paramount Studios, staring opposite Franchot Tone in another wartime film, this time Billy Wilder's thriller Five Graves to Cairo. Her final film of 1943 was the now infamous The North Star, which gave Baxter her first top billing. The picture was one of the many film labeled "subversive" by the by the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) in October 1947. Although the Soviets were our allies when the film was made, it's positive and sympathetic portrayal of Russian peasants/guerrilla fighters fending off Nazi forces was an endorsement of Communism. The next year she remained busy with films such as The Fighting Sullivans, The Eve of St. Mark and Guest in The House.
At this point in her career Baxter began to move away from ingenue-type roles and began to show her maturity as an actress. In 1945 she starred opposite Tallulah Bankhead and Charles Coburn in the Otto Preminger historical comedy A Royal Scandal. She the starred with Fred Mac Murray in the family drama Smoky and followed that up with the successful fantasy-comedy Angel on My Shoulder. Her biggest hit of 1946, however, came with the film The Razor's Edge. In the film Baxter plays a young women who has succumbed to drugs, alcohol and an abusive brute after losing her husband and child to tragic accident. The film was a great success with both critics and audiences, making over five million at the box office. The would go one to be nominated for four Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor but would only win one: Best Supporting Actress for Anne Baxter.
All About Eve
Despite winning the Academy Award, Baxter found her following roles neither challenging nor fruitful. She appeared in a series of forgettable films such as Homecoming, The Walls of Jericho, and Yellow Sky. However, all of that would change when Baxter was cast as titular character in All About Eve. As Eve Harrington, Baxter demonstrated her acting ability by showing the evolution of a young ingenue whose obsessive drive and ambition transforms her into a treacherous opportunist willing to betray her own idol, Margo Channing, to reach the top. The film was a massive hit, pleasing both harshest of critics and the pickiest of moviegoers. The film was nominated for 14 Academy Awards, winning Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor, Best Costume and Best Mixing. Although Baxter and Bette Davis were both nominated for Best Actress, neither won with many insisting that the choice to include them both as leads split the vote.
For the rest of the decade she received strong roles and gave even stronger performances. In 1953 she starred opposite Montgomery Clift in the Alfred Hitchcock thriller I, Confess. The next two years she kept Busy with the films The Blue Gardenia, Bedeviled, One Desire, and The Spoilers. In 1956 she appeared in one of her more memorable roles as the Egyptian throne princess Nefretiri opposite Charlton Heston in Cecil B. DeMille's award-winning biblical epic The Ten Commandments. After an almost two decade hiatus from the Broadway Baxter returned to the stage as Mollie Lovejoy in The Square Root of Wonderful. In 1957 she began to appear on growing medium of television, first showing up in Schlitz Playhouse and Playhouse 90.
After marrying Australian rancher Randolph Galt, Baxter moved to Australia and far away from the Hollywood spotlight. For the next decade she greatly reduced her workload, choosing to appear mostly on television. Baxter appeared on shows such as Batman, The F.B.I, Ironside, and What's my Line. She also still made the occasional films appearances with Walk on the Wild Side and Seven Vengeful Women. After her divorce in 1968, Baxter found her film career was all but dead and in 1972 returned to Broadway with the Applause, a musical version of All About Eve, this time playing the season vet of Margo Channing. After receiving a great amount of positive critical attention, Baxter decided to stay in the world of the theater and in 1974 starred opposite Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn in Noel Coward in Two Keys. By the 1980s Baxter worked almost exclusively on television, appearing on The Love Boat and East of Eden . She gave her film performance in 1984 with The Masks of Death. Her final role was as Victoria Cabot in the series Hotel, replacing Bette Davis after Davis became ill. Anne Baxter died on December 12th, 1985. She was 62 years old.
(Source: article by Minoo Allen for Classic Movie Hub).
HONORS and AWARDS:.
Anne Baxter was nominated for two Academy Awards, winning one for Best Supporting Actress for The Razor's Edge (as Sophie MacDonald) in 1946.
|1946||Best Supporting Actress||The Razor's Edge (1946)||Sophie MacDonald||Won|
|1950||Best Actress||All about Eve (1950)||Eve Harrington||Nominated|
She was honored with one star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the category of Motion Pictures. Anne Baxter's handprints and footprints were 'set in stone' at Grauman's Chinese Theater during imprint ceremony #88 on Dec 15, 1949.
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Eve Harrington: No it isn't.
[raises the award statuette]
Eve Harrington: It's for this.
Addison DeWitt: It's the same thing, isn't it?
Eve Harrington: Exactly. Here, take it to the party instead of me
[hands it to him]
Willie: Until I met you, I never knew how rotten I was.
[the villagers flee their burning town, torched as part of the Russians scorched earth defense]
Marina Pavlova: Gone.
Sophia Pavlova, Rodion's wife: There'll be another some day.
Marina Pavlova: Yes. It will be different for us. Wars don't leave people as they were. All people will learn this and come to see that wars do not have to be. We'll make this the last war. We'll make a free world for all men. The earth belongs to us, the people, if we fight for it. And we will fight for it!
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