Eleanor Parker, the actress who played “the Baroness” in the timeless classic The Sound Of Music, died at the age of 91.
Parker was was a star of the silver screen during the forties, fifties, and sixties. She was actually nominated for three Academy Awards, but not for her celebrated performance in The Sound Of Music
Her career, however, spanned all the way to the nineties, and she made appearances in more than three dozen movies. She passed away Monday in Palm Springs, California, following complications from pneumonia.
Elanor Parker’s son, actor Paul Clemens, confirmed the sad news.
In her day, Eleanor Parker was a stunning red-head, even though we remember her as a blonde in The Sound Of Music. She starred opposite some of Hollywood’s most famous leading men, including, Clark Gable, William Holden, Frank Sinatra, Humphrey Bogart, Kirk Douglas, and Glenn Ford.
Eleanor Parker also worked with some of the most lauded directors of past decades, such as William Wyler, Frank Capra, Otto Preminger, and Robert Wise.
Her Best Actress Oscar nominations came for Caged (1951), Detective Story (1952), and Interrupted Melody (1955).
But those of us who grew up watching classic movies remember her for being the love interest of Captain Von Trapp in the musical The Sound Of Music.
In the film, she is a wealthy divorcee who pursues the eligible widower and father to seven unruly children, whose lives are changed when a candidate to become a nun, named Maria and played by Julie Andrews, comes to impose order.
Eleanor Parker was a very beautiful woman, but she proved that she could act like the best of them and was usually cast as strong willed women in her more notable films.
Her career started in 1942 in a film called Busses Roar, but she quickly was recognized for her ability and was later known as the “star with 100 faces.”
“I’m primarily a character actress,” she said at one point. “I’ve portrayed so many diverse individuals on screen that my own personality never emerged.”
The fame that came with her portrayal of “the Baroness” in 1965 was something she struggled with, her son says.
“It was a lovely role, and she was terrific in it,” Clemens said, “but it was hardly her greatest role. It was only in the last 10 years of her life that she became glad she had done the film. People of all ages know it.”
Co-star Christopher Plummer, who played Captain Von Trapp in the musical, was saddened by the news of Eleanor Parker’s death.
“Eleanor Parker was and is one of the most beautiful ladies I have ever known,” Plummer said in a statement Monday. “I hardly believe the sad news for I was sure she was enchanted and would live forever.”
Richard Gale, a family friend, says Eleanor Parker passed away peacefully, surrounded by her family.