Friday 27 April 2018

Obituary: Eleanor Parker

Eleanor ParkerVersatile actress and three-time Oscar nominee who played the Baroness in 'The Sound of Music'

ICILY ELEGANT: Eleanor Parker (right) with Christopher Plummer and Julie Andrews in 'The Sound of Music'
ICILY ELEGANT: Eleanor Parker (right) with Christopher Plummer and Julie Andrews in 'The Sound of Music'

Eleanor Parker, who died last Monday aged 91, was an American screen and stage actress, best-remembered for her role as the haughty Baroness Elsa Schraeder, co-star to Julie Andrews in the Oscar-winning 1965 film The Sound of Music.

Clad in beaded gowns and ash-blonde wigs (she was naturally brunette), Eleanor Parker cut a mature, icily elegant figure next to Andrews, who was then a newcomer. Charmian Carr, playing the eldest Von Trapp daughter, remembered her as "the bona fide movie star in the cast".

With her rich, husky voice and striking good looks, she had proven herself equally adept in both high drama and lighter fare. At the Venice Film Festival in 1950 she had won an international award for Caged, as a first-time offender who is brutally mistreated by the prison matron. Her performance in Scaramouche (1952), as the strong-willed theatre player Lenore, had showed her at her most alluring and entertaining. Yet, though nominated for an Oscar three times, she never triumphed at the award ceremony. At Warner Brothers, however, her versatility won her great acclaim, and saw her publicised to cinema audiences as "The Woman of a Thousand Faces".

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