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Cedarville, Ohio
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Cedarville, Ohio

Eleanor Parker was a versatile American actress who received three Oscar nominations for ‘Best Actress,’ a ‘Emmy Award,’ and a ‘Golden Globe’ nomination, but is best known for her supporting role as the baroness in the film ‘Sound of Music,’ in which she had an icy demeanor and was hell-bent on marrying Captain Von Trapp. She felt little sympathy for the Captain’s children, who had lost their mother a few years before and eventually lost the Captain to Maria, the governess, who had brought music back into the Von Trapp household. Her adaptability helped her to become a celebrity. She played a wide range of characters, from a noble-minded war hero’s fiancée to a violent waitress-prostitute, sometimes as a redhead, sometimes as a brunette, and occasionally as a blonde. She was regarded as being slightly below the top echelon of Hollywood actors, and she had to settle for roles that reflected the ‘neglected female’ type. Despite this, she was a favorite of many of the era’s major actors. She retired from acting and lived a quiet life in Palm Springs, where she could look back on a glamorous yet understated career.

Childhood and Adolescence

Eleanor Parker was born Eleanor Jean Parker on June 26, 1922, in Cedarville, Ohio, United States. Lester Day Parker, her father, was a math teacher, and Lola Isett was her mother. She was the third and final child of her parents. When she was a youngster, she began acting in school plays. She attended various public schools before graduating from ‘Shaw High School.’

She went to the ‘Rice Summer Theater’ in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, while she was in her teens.
She then went to the ‘Pasadena Playhouse’ in California to further her education. Various studios approached her during her studies at both colleges, offering her screen tests in their films, but she declined and proceeded with her studies until they were completed.

Career of Eleanor Parker

She approached a talent scout for ‘Warner Bros.’ after finishing her studies and was quickly picked up for films.
She was set to make her film debut in 1941 with Errol Flynn in the western ‘They Died With Their Boots On,’ but the parts in which she appeared were trimmed and deleted. In 1942, she starred in two short films about the war before providing the background voice of a telephone operator in Humphrey Bogart’s gangster thriller ‘The Big Shot.’
She starred as a terrified bus passenger in the black-and-white wartime sabotage film ‘Busses Roar’ at the end of 1942.

In 1944, she had a significant role in the film ‘Between Two Worlds.’ In 1945, she starred in the film ‘Pride of the Marines,’ in which she played the fiancée of a combat hero. In 1946, she portrayed a ruthless waitress-prostitute in a film adaptation of W. Somerset Maugham’s novel “Of Human Bondage.” In 1947, she starred with Ronald Reagan in the comedy ‘The Voice of the Turtle,’ which received positive reviews. In the 1950 film ‘Caged,’ she played a teenage prisoner who was falsely imprisoned and put to a women’s jail full of female predators. She was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance in the picture.

In 1951, she starred alongside Kirk Douglas in the film “Detective Story,” for which she received a second Academy Award nomination. In 1952, she appeared in the films ‘Above and Beyond’ with Robert Taylor and ‘Scaramouche’ with Stewart Granger. In 1953, she starred alongside William Holden in the film ‘Escape from Fort Bravo.’
In the films ‘Valley of Kings’ and ‘The Naked Jungle,’ she portrayed an archaeologist’s wife alongside Robert Taylor and Charlton Heston, respectively.

In 1955, she received her third Oscar nomination for her performance as polio-stricken Metropolitan Opera diva Marjorie Lawrence. She was well-known for her role as Frank Sinatra’s conniving wife in the film “The Man With the Golden Arm,” in which she played opposite him. In 1956, she played alongside Clark Gable in the film “The King and Four Queens.” In 1957, she starred as a librarian who receives threatening letters from a monster in the film ‘Lizzie.’
Eleanor appeared in another comedy picture, ‘A Hole in the Head,’ in 1959, with Frank Sinatra.

In Vincent Minnelli’s ‘Home from the Hill,’ she reprised her role as the neglected wife in 1960. In 1962, she had her final performance in a big Hollywood picture, ‘Return to Peyton Place.’ In the mid-1960s, she landed a role in the mediocre film ‘An American Dream.’

She featured as a guest artist in a number of television movies during the 1960s and 1970s, including the NBC series ‘Bracken’s World,’ which aired from 1969 to 1970. She also appeared in episodes of ‘The Love Boat,’ ‘Fantasy Island,’ and ‘Murder She Wrote,’ among others.

Her comedic picture ‘Sunburn,’ which starred Farah Fawcett and was released in 1979, was a disappointment. In 1991, she made her final appearance in the television film ‘Dead on the Money,’ with Kevin McCarthy. She left acting in 1991, only a few months before her 70th birthday.

Achievements & Awards

Eleanor Parker was nominated for an Academy Award for ‘Best Actress’ in 1950 for her portrayal in the film ‘Caged’ as a falsely convicted teenage prisoner. For her performance as a mistreated police officer’s wife in ‘Detective Story,’ she received her second Oscar nomination for ‘Best Actress’ in 1951.

In 1955, she received her third Oscar nomination for ‘Best Actress’ for her portrayal as a polio-stricken opera singer in the film ‘Interrupted Melody.’ In 1963, she was nominated for a ‘Emmy Award’ for her performance in NBC’s ‘The Eleventh Hour,’ a drama series on mental patients.

She was nominated for a ‘Golden Globe’ in 1970 for her role in the television series ‘Bracken’s World.’ She was named the ‘Turner Classic Movies Star of the Month’ in June 2013.  On the ‘Hollywood Walk of Fame,’ she was honored with a star.

Personal History and Legacy

In 1943, she married Fred L. Losse, a Navy dentist, but the marriage only lasted 21 months. On January 5, 1946, she married Bert Friedlob, a would-be producer, and they had two girls and a boy called Susan, Sharon, and Richard. On November 10, 1953, she divorced him.

Her November 25, 1954, marriage to artist Paul Clemens terminated in a divorce on March 9, 1965. From this marriage, she had a son named Paul.  She married Chicago businessman Raymond N. Hirsch on April 17, 1966, but he died in 2001, leaving her a widow. Eleanor Parker died on December 9, 2013, at the age of 91, in Palm Springs, California, following complications from pneumonia.

Estimated Net Worth

Eleanor is one of the wealthiest movie actresses and one of the most well-known. Eleanor Parker’s net worth is estimated to be $1.7 million, according to Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.


The nickname ‘A Woman with a Thousand Faces’ was given to her.