Anne Baxter: The single hearted performer

4” I’m an actress, not a personality. It’s more successful to be a personality. But can you use it in every role? I don’t spill over into everything that I do. I do what I do from inside someone else’s skin”  Anne Baxter (May 7th, 1923-December 12th, 1985)

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Anne Baxter was a remarkable, cultured and immensely talented actress whose indefinite love and passion sparkled in her craft and reigned supreme in her film roles. The illuminating presence on screen in 1946’s The Razor Edge delivered to the audience a selfless and deeply appreciative individual whose love and sheer brilliance emanated through the silver screen. The film stars Tyrone Power and Gene Tierney under the direction of Edmund Goulding. Baxter delivers her Academy Award winning portrayal of Sophie MacDonald, a young woman who experiences a deep sense of bereavement and devastation with the loss of her husband and baby, and the inevitable futility that results from her constant struggles to fight her alcoholism and the imminent danger it has consummed in her life. In 1950, she was chosen to star in All About Eve directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz based on the 1946 short story ” All about Eve” by Mary Orr. Baxter gives a poignant, powerful and harrowing performance as Eve Harrington, a seemingly naive, willing and aspiring fan of the highly revered but fading Broadway star Margo Channing, who becomes an overnight sensation with the notion of being Margo’s understudy. Then she ingratiates herself into Channing’s life, eventually jeopardizing Channing’s livelihood as well as the private aspects of Ms. Channing’s emotional meaningful involvements. It stars Bette Davis as Margo Channing, Celeste Holm as Margo’s close friend Karen Richards, Hugh Marlowe as Karen’s playwright husband Lloyd and Gary Merrill as Bill Simpson, Margo’s love interest. It also marked the tour de force performance of George Sanders who played the sharp tongued, dispassionate theatre critic Addison DeWitt. He develops a sense of love and mutual understanding for Eve, but shows a much darker, captivating, manipulating and sinisterly charming persona when he realizes Eve’s real intentions, and comes to the conclusion that not only do they share the common bond of wanting and needing to be loved, but that Eve will inevitably belong to him and only him – just a wonderfully, magnetic and riveting performance! For his supporting role, Sanders won the Academy Award as the year’s Best Supporting Actor and it further defined the beginning of Baxter’s newly discovered beginning as a transcending lady.

2In a career that spanned 45 years, Anne Baxter has appeared in over 50 films including regular television appearances in the 50s and 70s, like in the TV show What’s My Line? She was noted for guest appearing as Zelda the Great and Olga, Queen of the Cossacks opposite Vincent Price’s Egghead in the 1960s superhero series Batman. The TV series also starred George Sanders, from All about Eve fame, as the ice cold villian Mr. Freeze. Baxter appeared on The Mike Douglas Show ( with who she developed a close friendship with) as well as the American crime fiction TV series Columbo with Peter Falk in the title role. She also played a former flame in Ironside starring Raymond Burr. In the 1970s, Anne Baxter returned to Broadway for the play Applause, the musical version of All about Eve, but this time in the ” Margo Channing” role played by Bette Davis in the film ( she was replacing Lauren Bacall who won a Tony award for her performance). In 1983, she starred in the television series Hotel with Connie Sellecca and James Brolin replacing Bette Davis when Bette became ill. Baxter is also best remembered for her pivotal role of Egyptian Queen Nefretiri opposite Charlton Heston portrayal of Moses in the Cecil B. DeMille’s 1956 Academy Award winning biblical epic The Ten Commandments starring Yul Brynner, Edward G. Robinson. Yvonne DeCarlo, John Carradine and Vincent Price. Although both Baxter and Davis were nominated for their equally powerful performances in All About Eve, the Oscar went to Judy Holliday for her performance in Born Yesterday, directed by George Cukor. She was married 3 times: to actor John Hodiak (1946-1953) with whom she had a daughter Katrina in 1951, next to Randolph Galt (1960-1969) which was the longest of her 3 marriages, and with whom she had 2 more daughters- Melissa ( b 1962) and Maginel (b 1964). She then married prominent stock broker David Klee (1977-1977) which turned out to becoming a brief marriage for Baxter. She later became a widow when Klee died unexpectantly from illness. She had no children from Klee and after his death, Baxter never remarried. On December 4th 1985, while hailing a taxi on Madison Ave in New York City, Anne Baxter suffered a brain aneurysm- she died 8 days later at Lenox Hill Hospital at the age of 62. She was survived by her 3 daughters. Anne Baxter was an accomplished mulit-faceted actress who became much more than the characters she portrayed on the silver screen- she was also a compassionate, admired and immensely appreciated human being who attained so much more in life, whether good, bad or indifferent!1

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