My Surreal Encounter With Carroll Baker

Categories: Film

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My "good/bad" movie club has one rule, which is, "If any of us ever runs into anyone from one of the movies we've seen, you must approach them and ask them about it."

This has led to lively dialogues between myself and esoteric stars like Lynn Redgrave, Leslie Uggams, and Tatum O'Neal about some projects they might have wanted to forget, but which I find indelibly entertaining.

So when I spotted Hollywood icon Carroll Baker at a screening not long ago, I couldn't help but breathlessly run up to her and introduce myself.

Carroll brightened right away and was super nice.

I gushily told her, "I've gotten so much enjoyment out of repeatedly watching ..."

Carroll continued beaming, no doubt expecting me to say Baby Doll or Giant.

"... A Quiet Place to Kill," I shot out unapologetically, as the room hushed.

It's a glossy 1970 Italian film of multiple double-crossing, with Carroll sauntering around Majorca in sleek outfits as a race-car driver being framed for murder (though Lord knows she's attempted it repeatedly anyway).

I've watched it maybe 12 times, thrilling to the droll acting, plot twists, and drop earrings.

But Carroll's enthusiasm suddenly waned.

"Oh," she said, her voice dropping an octave.

"Nice."

I couldn't tell if she was horrified or maybe she didn't recognize the title (that movie went by several names), but I moved on with a smile, at least knowing I hadn't broken the rule.


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12 comments
Shirly Hugo
Shirly Hugo

I was lucky enough to be seated next to her at a Christmas dinner in Palm Springs around ten years ago.  I've always adored her. I did the gay gush and told her that I've always thought she was one of the most beautiful women in the world and a wonderful actress. Instead of smiling sweetly and turning away (the sign that she's afraid of the mental case seated next to her) she thanked me, said she was flattered.  We chatted all through the meal. A very special lady and a very special Christmas for me.

Vincente M.
Vincente M.

Martha Hyer is alive, lives in Santa Fe, NM, and is 87 years old. Very reclusive, and hasn't been photographed in years. Married old time Hollywwod producer Hal Wallis-he died in the80's. She moved from Palm Springs, and really hasn't been seen since.

Movielover
Movielover

Loved her in the Capetbaggers.  Babydoll is a good read.  Wild shit happened to this beautiful girl when she was just starting out.  She has a very distinctive voice too.

gcndc
gcndc

Another of her good-bad movies is Harlow where she plays Jean Harlow and Angela Landsbury is her mother.  In this version Jean Harlow is a virgin most of her life and it causes her to go nuts.  She is her most beautiful in this movie.  And a great over looked movie of hers if Something Wild form the early 60s.  Doris Roberts is in it too.  It's a really interesting movie.

Southern Dave
Southern Dave

Carroll  Baker is one of the rare movie stars who is REAL person.

She made a lot of bad movies in Italy, while she was concentrating more on living her life than her career. One, "Baba Yaga," where she plays a glamorous witch, would be fun for your movie club. I asked her if I should buy a Baker movie called "Paranoiac" and she said, "Well, you''ll never know what you're getting. You see, when a producer in Italy makes a movie, he registers a title and pays for it. This producer kept making DIFFERENT 'Paranoiacs" with me for years."

Carroll's very early background, as a dancer/chorus girl, was used by Tennessee Williams as inspiration for the lead character in "The Seven Descents of Myrtle," also known as "Kingdom of Earth." Lynn Redgrave played the part in the movie version, "Last of the Mobile Hot-Shots."

The best good-bad movie for your group would be "Sylvia," if you can find a copy, a sexy mystery where millionaire Peter Lawford hires detective George Maharis to find out the truth about the girl he's going to marry. I asked Carroll to sign the poster and she looked at the supporting cast: Aldo Ray, Ann Sothern, Viveca Lindfors and Joanne Dru."What did Joanne Dru play?" she asked. "I didn't have any scenes with her."

"Sure you did," I said. "Remember? You worked together in  a whorehouse where the madam didn't like you because you'd  rather read a book than service the johns. Then you and Joanne get jobs as waitresses, but they fire you and Joanne gets hit by a truck and you have to go out whoring to pay for her private hospital room and eventually you go to work for Paul Gilbert (Melissa's father) playing a transvestite nightclub star who sings the Arlen/Gershwin "Love and Learn" and doubles as a procurer.

She loved making Westerns like "The Big Country," "Cheyenne Autumn" and "How the West Was Won," because, she said wryly, "Horses are real."

She dazzled the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival last spring, being interviewed onstage by Rex Reed and film historian Foster Hirsch. But she was truly luminous giving a reading from Williams' work.

She left the festival a day early because her granddaughter was acting in a school play.See? A real person.

Jessie
Jessie

I was walking along 2nd ave in the 30's and a woman was selling some old stuff, including some books. I bought "Baby Doll", the autobiography Carroll Baker for $3. I took it home, opened it up and....it was an autographed copy!!  A great read, too.

Musto
Musto

PS: I just ran into Carroll again when we were seated at the same table at a movie dinner. Someone at the table said to her, "I just realized who you are" and she laughed and said, "Well, I look exactly the same!" Love her! 

When someone mentioned Martha Hyer [a costar of hers in The Carpetbaggers], Carroll said, "Is Martha Hyer still alive?" No one knew, but Carroll chimed in, "She loved the all the trimmings! The tea sets and everything." I later looked it up and Martha's indeed alive. And so, very much, is Carroll Baker.

Pita
Pita

Good for you for not saying the same old "Loved you in Baby Doll" thing.

Isis
Isis

Great story!!!!

Melinda9
Melinda9

A movie of hers had a big effect on me - Bridge to the Sun. I saw it when I was a kid and never forgot it.

Musto
Musto

My club has indeed watched Sylvia and we adored it. But A Quiet Place To Kill is by far my fave. It's got everything I like in a movie--scenery, outfits, plot twists, glamorous people, and nutty dialogue.

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