Friday, July 9, 2010

Muse: Caroll Baker (as Jean Harlow).

I love the soft focus photography of these 60s glam photos of actress/screen siren Carroll Baker-- especially the dreamy color ones below. This photoshoot Carroll Baker was posing as Jean Harlow as promotional shots for her role in the 1965 flop "Harlow" posing as sexy, ditzy 30s legend Jean Harlow.

Born in Pennsylvania to a traveling salesman, Baker attended a community college for one year before hitting the road as a magician's assistant. Couldn't you just see her stepping into a coffin box to be sawed in half or handing the magician his top hat? Her film career began in the early 50s as an actor's studio student who got work on Broadway. In one of her roles she got noticed by director Elia Kazan who cast her in Baby Doll, scripted by Tennesse Williams. Her lolita-eque take on the small town gal role was controversial, and earned her a lot of attention, including an academy award nomination. She was also in such noted films as Giant, How the West was Won, and The Big Country-- all stories set in rural America, utilizing Baker's trademark drawl. During this time she divorced her first husband, married director and holocaust survivor Jack Garfein, and converted to Judaism.

She kept her career momentum going in the 60s with her notable performance in 1964's The Carpetbaggers. By the 60s, she began to craft her role as a Jean Harlow-esque sex symbol, inspired by the positive reception she received from her Harlow homage role in The Carpetbaggers.

After a legal dispute with her studio and dissolution of her second marriage, she moved her career to Europe, until being lured back to the States to star in Andy Warhol's 1977 film Bad. She restarted her acting career in the states with a string of theater roles. Things simmered until the 80s when she took to film again, starring in couple films including... yes,Kindergarten Cop where she played the female villain. The 80s also found Baker settled and writing her memoirs, and the 90s saw Baker in a random string of TV appearances.

Her third husband died in 2007, but Baker, age 78, continues to live in California. You can see a more recent Baker speaking about her career in the documentary on the 2006 rerelease DVD of Babydoll.


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