Michigan City, Indiana, 7 May 1923.
Attended Theodora Irvine's School of Theatre, 1934–36;
Lenox School, 1937–38; Brearly School, 1938–39; studied
acting with Maria Ouspenskaya, 1936–40.
Married 1) the actor John Hodiak, 1946 (divorced 1953), daughter:
Katrina; 2) Randolph Galt, 1960 (divorced 1970), daughters: Melissa Ann
and Maginel; 3) David Klee, 1977 (died 1977).
1936—Broadway debut in
Seen but Not Heard
; 1940—film debut in
20 Mule Team
; 1957—TV debut as guest star on
General Electric Theater
; appeared in numerous TV productions over remainder of life;
1961—moved with husband to cattle station in the Australian outback
where she lived for several years; 1969–70—in TV series
; 1971—return to Broadway in
, musical version of
All about Eve
, taking over role of Margo Channing from Lauren Bacall; 1976—in TV
East of Eden
, 1982; 1982—final stage appearance as Queen Gertrude in
, American Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford, Connecticut;
1983–85—in TV series
Best Supporting Actress Academy Award, for
The Razor's Edge
Of stroke, in New York City, 12 December 1985.
Films as Actress:
20 Mule Team (Thorpe) (as Jean Johnson); The Great Profile (Walter Lang) (as Mary Maxwell)
Charley's Aunt ( Charley's American Aunt ) (Mayo) (as Amy Spettigue); Swamp Water ( The Man Who Came Back )(Renoir) (as Julie)
The Magnificent Ambersons (Welles) (as Lucy Morgan); The Pied Piper (Pichel) (as Nicole Rougeron)
Crash Dive (Mayo) (as Jean Hewlett); Five Graves to Cairo (Wilder) (as Mouche); The North Star ( Armored Attack )(Milestone) (as Marina)
The Eve of St. Mark (Stahl) (as Janet Feller); Guest in the House (Brahm) (as Evelyn Heath); The Sullivans ( The Fighting Sullivans ) (Lloyd Bacon) (as Katherine Mary); Sunday Dinner for a Soldier (Lloyd Bacon) (as Tessa Osborne); The Purple Heart (Milestone) (as voice)
A Royal Scandal ( Czarina ) (Preminger) (as Countess Anna Jaschikoff)
Smoky (Louis King) (as Julie Richards); Angel on My Shoulder (Mayo) (as Barbara Foster); The Razor's Edge (Edmund Goulding) (as Sophie MacDonald)
Mother Wore Tights (Walter Lang) (as narrator); Blaze of Noon (Farrow) (as Lucille Stewart)
Homecoming (LeRoy) (as Penny Johnson); The Luck of the Irish (Koster) (as Nora); The Walls of Jericho (Stahl) (as Julia Norman); Yellow Sky (Wellman) (as Mike)
You're My Everything (Walter Lang) (as Hannah Adams)
A Ticket to Tomahawk (Sale) (as Kit Dodge Jr.); All about Eve (Joseph L. Mankiewicz) (as Eve Harrington)
Follow the Sun (Lanfield) (as Valerie Hogan)
Screen Snapshots No. 206 ; My Wife's Best Friend (Sale) (as Virginia Mason); "The Last Leaf" ep. of O. Henry's Full House ( Full House ) (Negulesco) (as Joanna); The Outcasts of Poker Flat (Joseph M. Newman) (as Cal)
I Confess (Hitchcock) (as Ruth Grandfort); The Blue Gardenia (Fritz Lang) (as Norah Larkin)
Carnival Story (Neumann) (as Willie)
Bedevilled (Leisen) (as Monica Johnson); One Desire (Jerry Hopper) (as Tacey Cromwell); The Spoilers (Hibbs) (as Cherry Malotte)
The Come-On (Birdwell) (as Rita Kendrick); The Ten Commandments (Cecil B. DeMille) (as Princess Nefretiri); Three Violent People (Maté) (as Lorna Hunter Saunders)
Chase a Crooked Shadow (Anderson) (as Kimberley)
Cimarron (Anthony Mann) (as Dixie)
Season of Passion ( Summer of the 17th Doll ) (Norman)(as Olive)
Mix Me a Person (Norman) (as Dr. Anne Dyson); Walk on the Wild Side (Dmytryk) (as Teresina Vidarverri)
The Family Jewels (Jerry Lewis) (cameo)
Frauen, die durch die Hölle gehen ( The Tall Women ; Donna alla frontiera ; Sette donne per una strage ) (Grooper or Zehetgruber, Parolini, and Pink) (as Mary Ann)
The Busy Body (Castle) (as Margo Foster); Stranger on the Run (Siegel—for TV) (as Valvera Johnson)
Companions in Nightmare (Norman Lloyd—for TV) (as Carlotta Mauridge)
Marcus Welby, M.D. (Rich—for TV) (as Myra Sherwood)
The Challengers (Martinson—for TV, produced in 1968)(as Stephanie York); Ritual of Evil (Day—for TV) (as Jolene Wiley)
Fools' Parade ( Dynamite Man from Glory Jail ) (McLaglen)(as Cleo); If Tomorrow Comes (McCowan—for TV) (as Miss Cramer); The Late Liz (Dick Ross) (as Liz Addams Hatch)
Lapin 360 (Lewis—unreleased); The Catcher (Miner—for TV) (as Kate)
Lisa, Bright and Dark (Swarc—for TV) (as Margaret Schilling)
Little Mo (Webb—for TV) (as Jess Connolly)
Nero Wolfe (Gilroy—for TV) (as Rachel Bruner)
Jane Austen in Manhattan (Ivory) (as Liliana Zorska)
The Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright (Grigor—doc) (as narrator)
Sherlock Holmes and the Masks of Death ( Masks of Death )(Roy Ward Baker—for TV)
By BAXTER: book—
Intermission: A True Story , New York, 1976.
On BAXTER: books—
Parish, James Robert, The Fox Girls , New Rochelle, New York, 1971.
Fowler, Karin J., Anne Baxter: A Bio-Bibliography , New York, 1991.
On BAXTER: articles—
"All about Anne Baxter," in Photoplay (New York), September 1943.
Graham, Sheila, "As You Were, Annie," in Photoplay (New York), April 1953.
Pollock, L., "Between Heaven and H . . .," in Photoplay (New York), April and May 1957.
Current Biography 1972 , New York, 1972.
Bawden, J., "Anne Baxter," in Films in Review (New York), October 1977.
Ciné Revue (Paris), 19 March 1981.
Photoplay (London), November 1981 and November 1984.
Obituary in New York Times , 13 December 1985.
Obituary in Variety (New York), 18 December 1985.
* * *
Given the creative legacy of Anne Baxter's family—she was Frank Lloyd Wright's granddaughter—her artistic accomplishments were scripted from childhood. She was from the age of ten determined to become an actress after seeing a stage production starring Helen Hayes in New York; her aspirations were encouraged by her parents and grandfather.
There was an air of duplicity about Baxter that she and her directors used to diverse effect throughout her career. Her steely-eyed, intelligent beauty was composed of elements disparate enough to hint at complex or contradictory aspects of a character. Few of Baxter's roles were straightforward interpretations; her characters, more often than not, play other characters. The masks that Baxter's women wear may depict treachery ( All about Eve ), mental unbalance ( Guest in the House ), or a rugged, no nonsense exterior that disguises a vulnerable, tentative personality ( Yellow Sky ). Many of Hollywood's best directors found Baxter a surprisingly intense performer and she did first-rate work for Hitchcock, Welles, Wellman, Edmund Goulding, Negulesco, Milestone, and Joseph L. Mankiewicz.
Without establishing a dominant screen persona, she made several good films from the time she was only a teenager. At the age of 16 she tested for the title role in Hitchcock's Rebecca , but her youth prevented her from being cast; she had to settle for an ingenue part in 20 Mule Team . From the beginning, though, her assignments and her performances were varied and interesting; she was earnest in The Great Profile , earthy in Swamp Water , and a coquette in Charley's Aunt . The Magnificent Ambersons gave her the best role of her early career and her performance is subtle and thoughtfully shaded. She won an Academy Award for her tragic dipsomaniac in The Razor's Edge and was again nominated for her Eve Harrington in All about Eve , which she played, as The New York Times put it, with "an icy calm."
Her career peaked sooner than seems just. While she continued to give good, sometimes inspired performances in I Confess , O. Henry's Full House (in Negulesco's "The Last Leaf" episode), The Blue Gardenia , and The Ten Commandments , eventually she found herself slogging through forgettable programmers. Walk on the Wild Side and Fools' Parade gave her a few shining moments, but she soon had to turn to television and the stage for sustenance. In 1971, she took over Lauren Bacall's role of Margo Channing in Applause , a stage musical based on All about Eve , and found herself in the intriguing position of playing the established star at odds with the young upstart, Eve, whom Baxter herself had played so memorably on film.
Though she never achieved the status of superstar, she did achieve longevity, diversity, and popularity throughout a very stable career. In her final role, Baxter portrayed Victoria Cabot on the television series Hotel from 1983 until her death, caused by a massive stroke in 1985.
—Frank Thompson, updated by Kelly Otter