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Anne Baxter (1923-1985)


Anne Baxter
Anne Baxter


Anne Baxter was an American stage and movie actress who starred in a number of classic movies in the 1940's and 50's. Her most famous role was as Eve Harrington, the ruthlessly ambitious young actress in 'All About Eve' with Bette Davis in 1950. She won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in 'The Razor's Edge' in 1946 and she is also remembered for her role as the Egyptian princess Nefretiri in Cecil B. Demille's 'The Ten Commandments' in 1956.

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Biography

Anne Baxter was born in Michigan City, Indiana on May 7, 1923. Her mother, Catherine (née Wright), was the daughter of the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright, and her father, Kenneth, was a sales manager at Seagrams Distillery. She was brought up in New York and began her education at the prestigious Brearley School.

She developed an early interest in the Theater and by the age of ten had decided on an acting career after seeing Helen Hayes appearing on Broadway. She was encouraged by her parents who enrolled her in the Theodora Irvine School of Theatre which she attended for two years from 1934. During this time she was also given acting lessons at the New York School of Dramatic Art by Russian Broadway actress, Maria Ouspenskaya, a devotee of "method" acting.

Broadway Debut 1936

In 1936, aged just 13 years, Anne made her Broadway debut in 'Seen But Not Heard', but was considered too young and was rejected for subsequent roles. She was forced to return home to New York and worked summer stock for two years, gaining valuable experience. In 1938, a more mature Ann returned to Broadway, a fully fledged actress, and appeared in 'There's Always a Breeze' and 'Madame Capet'.

In 1939, aged sixteen, she took a screen test for 20th Century Fox's production of 'Rebecca' but was considered too young for the role by director, Alfred Hitchcock, who chose Joan Fontaine instead. Anne impressed sufficiently however, for the studio to offer her a seven year contract.

Movie Debut 1940

Anne began her movie career in 1940 on loan to MGM in an uninspiring Western called 'Twenty-Mule Team' starring Wallace Beery. She was given supporting roles in several 20th Century Fox 'B' movies such as 'Charley's Aunt' in 1941 and 'The Pied Piper' in 1942 but later in 1942, on loan to RKO, she appeared in the first of many movie classics, Orson Welles's 'The Magnificent Ambersons'.

She continued to make more movies on loan than for her home studio, as if Fox were unsure where her talents lay. But her star was rising. In 1943 she appeared for Paramount in Billy Wilder's crisp thriller "Five Graves to Cairo' in place of Ingrid Bergman, then at the height of her fame. Later the same year she was on loan again, to RKO, in a starring role as an ingénue in 'The North Star' with Dana Andrews. She then returned to Fox for more starring roles in 'Crash Dive' in 1943 and the war film 'The Fighting Sullivans' with Thomas Mitchell, the following year.

Hollywood Star 1946

Anne had established a reputation for acting quality and for reliable professional performances. She began to have important roles in more substantial movies such as 'Smoky' and the comedy "Angel on My Shoulder' in 1946 and she excelled later that year in 'The Razor's Edge' for which she was awarded the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. In 1948 she co-starred with Gregory Peck and Richard Widmark in the Western 'Yellow Sky'.

All About Eve 1950

In 1950 came the role for which Anne is best known, that of the ambitious and unscrupulous Eve Harrington in 'All About Eve'. Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, the movie is still regarded as a masterpiece and one of the best movies ever made. A large part of the film's success was due to the superlative acting by the two lead actresses, Bette Davis and Anne Baxter. Each was nominated for the Best Actress Oscar but, in sharing the votes, both lost out to Judy Holliday for 'Born Yesterday'. 20th Century Fox had wanted Anne to be nominated for the Best Supporting Actress category but she refused and left the studio shortly thereafter.

After such a major success, Anne was not short of film offers but she was now a freelance actress and for the next few years her movies and roles were disappointing. Movies such as 'Follow the Sun' in 1951 and 'Full House' and 'My Wife's Best Friend' in 1952 were not well received. Her 1953 appearance in Alfred Hitchcock's 'I Confess' was as a last minute replacement for Anna Bjork and the film is not considered to be a Hitchcock classic, although Anne's acting received critical praise. Later in 1953 her performance in the film noir 'The Blue Gardenia' was again warmly praised but her movies over the next few years, such as 'Carnival Story' in 1954 and 'One Desire' and 'The Spoilers' in 1955 were disappointing box office failures.

The Ten Commandments 1956

Anne's career took off again in 1956 when she was cast as the selfish and sensual Egyptian Princess Nefretiri in Cecil B. DeMille's colorful epic 'The Ten Commandments', co-starring Charlton Heston and Yul Brynner. Her performance was warmly praised and the film was highly successful but it did not lead to better roles for Ann. During the rest of the decade she appeared in several very average movies such as 'Chase a Crooked Shadow' in 1958, 'Season of Passion' the following year and the disappointing Anthony Mann Western saga, 'Cimarron' in 1960.

Later Career

Never again did Ann reach the heights of her earlier career. She made more movies in the ensuing decades but none were anything other than mediocre, movies such as the lack lustre Western 'Seven Vengeful Women' in 1966, 'The Late Liz' in 1971 and 'Lapin 360' in 1972 were all disappointing. Anne continued to work, having become a regular on television from the late 1950's. After appearing in many series such as 'Playhouse 90' in 1958 and 'Wagon Train' in 1959 she acted several times in the drama series 'General Electric Theater', was reunited with Alfred Hitchcock in 1963 in 'The Alfred Hitchcock Hour' and appeared regularly on the popular ' Batman' series of the mid 1960's.

Anne did not forget her first love, the stage, and she returned to Broadway during the 1970's in 'Applause', the musical version of 'All About Eve', succeeding Lauren Bacall in the Bette Davis role of Margo Channing. In 1974 she co-starred with Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy in 'Noel Coward in Two Keys', again on Broadway. Her successful television career continued during the 1970's and 1980's with well received appearances in many series such as 'Marcus Welby, M.D.', 'East of Eden' and 'The Love Boat' and she finished her career replacing the ailing Bette Davies with a regular role in the series 'Hotel' from 1983.

Personal

Anne was married three times. Firstly in 1946 she married John Hodiak, a movie whom she had met when they appeared together in 'Sunday Dinner for a Soldier' in 1944. The couple had one daughter and divorced in 1953.

Anne married again in 1960, to Randolph Galt, a wealthy Australian rancher`who she met whilst filming 'Summer of the Seventeenth Doll' near Sydney in 1959. She took the brave decision to leave America to live with him at his cattle station north of Sydney. They had two daughters and moved together first to New Mexico, then to Hawaii before finally settling back in Los Angeles. They divorced in 1969 with the actress citing "extreme cruelty" as the reason for the breakup.

Anne's third marriage was in 1977, to stockbroker David Klee, but the marriage ended after only nine months when Klee died suddenly. Ann never remarried and continued to live in the property in Easton, Connecticut, which she and Klee had purchased.

Anne published her autobiography, 'Intermission: A True Story' in 1976 and in 1984 gave her final movie performance in 'The Masks of Death', a Sherlock Holmes mystery TV film.

Anne Baxter died on December 12, 1985 in Guilford, New York. She had suffered a stroke eight days earlier in Madison Avenue, New York and never regained consciousness. Her body was cremated and her ashes taken to the family cemetery on the Frank Lloyd Wright estate in Wisconsin. She was aged 62.


Anne Baxter Academy Awards

One Win
Best Supporting Actress ... The Razor's Edge (1946)
One Unsuccessful Nomination:
Best Actress ... All About Eve (1950)


Ann Baxter Filmography

1940
20 Mule Team
The Great Profile
1941
Charley's Aunt
Swamp Water
1942
The Pied Piper
The Magnificent Ambersons
1943
Crash Dive
Five Graves to Cairo
The North Star
1944
The Fighting Sullivans
The Purple Heart (voice, uncredited)
The Eve of St. Mark
Sunday Dinner for a Soldier
Guest in the House
1945
A Royal Scandal
1946
Smoky
Angel on My Shoulder
The Razor's Edge
1947
Blaze of Noon
Mother Wore Tights (voice, uncredited)
1948
The Luck of the Irish
The Walls of Jericho
Homecoming
Yellow Sky
1949
You're My Everything
1950
A Ticket to Tomahawk
All About Eve
1951
Follow the Sun
1952
The Outcasts of Poker Flat
Full House
My Wife's Best Friend
1953
I Confess
The Blue Gardenia
1954
Carnival Story
Circus of Love (uncredited)
1955
Bedevilled
One Desire
The Spoilers
1956
The Come On
The Ten Commandments
Three Violent People
1957
1958
Chase a Crooked Shadow
1959
Summer of the Seventeenth Doll (aka Season of Passion)