|Karen and Richard Carpenter|
This morning over my bowl of granola, I was tapping my toes as my den clock chimed one of my favorite oldies from The Carpenters, “I’m on the *(downbeat) top of the world looking *(downbeat) down on creation …” when I came across a tiny notice in the newspaper that today is the anniversary of Karen Carpenter’s death in 1983 at the age of 32.
Coming of age in the 70s as I did, the Carpenters played an enormous role in my life as the backbone of my dating life, romantic fantasies of the man of my dreams waiting out there somewhere for me, and even just fun, feel-good music to bop to with my best girlfriends in my living room while we nibbled on Sugar Babies and sipped coke floats.
To this day, The Carpenters Christmas Album in my seasonal fave.
Somehow a tiny obscure notice doesn’t seem like enough to memorialize Karen Carpenter.So I did a little research and put together a few interesting tidbits about the life of one of the most amazing honey-voiced contraltos the world has ever seen.
- Karen Carpenter was born 3/2/1950 and died at age 32 of heart failure related to anorexia and bulimia.
- As a child, Karen loved playing softball as a pitcher. She continued that hobby throughout her life, pitching on the Carpenter’s official softball team at the peak of their popularity in the mid-70s.
- Karen played drums in high school and according to her brother Richard, always considered herself a “drummer who sang.”
- The first two albums cut by Karen and Richard had Karen singing from behind the drums. Producers finally coaxed her out front to a microphone against her will and wouldn’t let her go back, replacing her with another drummer.
- Those same producers constantly goaded her to lose weight, although she was 5’4″ and weighed 145-lbs.in 1968. By 1975 she weighed 91-lbs.
- Karen collected Disney memorabilia and lived with her parents until she was 26.
- She considered singers Olivia Newton-John and Dionne Warwick her besties.
- The Carpenters had to take a year off recording during the early 80s while Richard got his drug addiction under control.
- Karen dated Tony Danza, Mark Harmon, Steve Martin, and Donny Osmond’s older brother Alan.
- Desperately wanting to have children by age 30, Karen was married for 14 months to a real-estate developer who hid the fact from her that he’d had a vasectomy.
- After a slight decline in their popularity (largely because they’d disappeared from the limelight due to Richard’s drug problem), by 1982 Karen and Richard were working hard on a comeback when Karen suddenly died of heart failure at her parents’ home. Her death brought about increased public awareness about the dangers of eating disorders, which were largely unheard of at the time.
Who were your entertainment heroes growing up? I’d love to hear some of your happy memories!