Born on June 26, 1922, in Cedarville, Ohio, she later moved with her family to East Cleveland, Ohio, where she attended public schools and graduated from Shaw High School. After high school, at the age of 18, she was signed by Warner Brothers in 1941. She was cast that year in the film They Died with Their Boots On, but her scenes were cut. Her actual film debut was as Nurse Ryan in Soldiers in White in 1942. By 1946, Parker had starred in Between Two Worlds, Hollywood Canteen, Pride of the Marines, Never Say Goodbye, and played the key role of Mildred Rogers in the remake of Of Human Bondage. She broke the champagne bottle on the nose of the California Zephyr train, to mark its inaugural journey from San Francisco on March 19, 1949.
Parker was nominated three times as Best Actress for the Academy Award. In 1950, she was nominated for Caged, in which she played a prison inmate. For this role, she won the 1950 Volpi Cup for Best Actress at the Venice Film Festival. She was then nominated for the Oscar in 1951 for her performance as Mary McLeod, the woman who doesn’t understand the position of her unstable detective husband (played by Kirk Douglas) in Detective Story and again in 1955 for her portrayal of opera singer Marjorie Lawrence in the Oscar-winning biopic Interrupted Melody. She followed Detective Story with her portrayal of an actress in love with a swashbuckling nobleman (played by Stewart Granger) in Scaramouche. Parker then starred with Charlton Heston as a 1900s mail-order bride in The Naked Jungle, directed by George Pal. Also in 1955, Parker appeared in the film adaptation of the National Book Award-winner The Man with the Golden Arm, directed by Otto Preminger. She played Zosh, the supposedly wheelchair-bound wife of heroin-addicted, would-be jazz drummer Frankie Machine (Frank Sinatra). In 1956, she was billed above the title with Clark Gable for the Raoul Walsh-directed Western comedy The King and Four Queens. A year later, she starred in another W. Somerset Maugham novel, a remake of The Painted Veil in the role originated by Greta Garbo, released as The Seventh Sin. She also appeared in Home from the Hill, A Hole in the Head with Frank Sinatra, and Return to Peyton Place.
Parker was an adept comedienne. In the 1951 Millionaire for Christy, she played a secretary sent to notify a man of his inheritance, co-starring with Fred MacMurray. Parker’s best-known screen role came as the Baroness Schraeder, who vies unsuccessfully with Maria (played by Julie Andrews) for the affections of Georg von Trapp (played by Christopher Plummer) in the 1965 Oscar-winning musical The Sound of Music.
In 1966, she played an alcoholic in Warning Shot, a talent scout in The Oscar, and a rich alcoholic in An American Dream. From the late 1960s, television would occupy more of her energies. In 1963, Parker appeared in the NBC medical drama about psychiatry The Eleventh Hour in the episode “Why Am I Grown So Cold?”, for which she was nominated for an Emmy Award as Outstanding Single Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role. In 1964, she appeared in the episode “A Land More Cruel” on the ABC drama about psychiatry, Breaking Point. In 1968, she portrayed a spy in How to Steal the World, a film originally shown as a two-part episode on NBC’s The Man from U.N.C.L.E..
In 1969–70, Parker starred in the television series Bracken’s World, for which she was nominated for a 1970 Golden Globe Award as Best TV Actress – Drama. She also appeared in the Ghost Story episode “Half a Death” (1973), a suspense-thriller about a wealthy woman reconciling the lives of her two daughters.
Parker starred in a number of theatrical productions, including the role of Margo Channing in the Broadway musical version of the film All About Eve, Applause. The role was originally played in the musical by Lauren Bacall and in All About Eve by Bette Davis. In 1976, she played Maxine in the Ahmanson Theater revival of The Night of the Iguana. She quit the Circle in the Square Theatre revival of Pal Joey during previews. She wrote the preface to the book How Your Mind Can Keep You Well, a meditation technique developed by Roy Masters. She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6340 Hollywood Boulevard. Eleanor Parker died on December 9, 2013 in Palm Springs, California of complications of pneumonia. She was 91.
- June, 26, 1922
- Cedarville, Ohio
- December, 09, 2013
- Palm Springs, California
Cause of Death
- complications of pneumonia
- Cremated. Ashes scattered in the Pacific Ocean.