Saturday, June 1, 2024

Karen Carpenter


"People never think of entertainers as being human.  When you walk out on stage, the audience thinks nothing can go wrong with them.  We get sick and we have headaches just like they do.  When we are cut, we bleed."

Karen Anne Carpenter was born in New Haven, Connecticut on March 2, 1950.  In 1963, her family moved to Downey, California, where she continued her education, eventually enrolling at California State University at Long Beach.  It was here that she began her musical education, learning the drums and honing her voice.

Talent, it seems, was not limited to Karen, as her brother Richard had musical aspirations as well.  In 1969, they formed The Carpenters, signing on with A&M Records, achieving great commercial success throughout the 1970s. She sang most of the songs on the group's first album, known today as Ticket to Ride.  They'd follow it up one year later with their second album, Close to You.  It contained what would become two of their signature hits, (They Long to be) Close to You and We've Only Just Begun.  Over the course of their 14-year career, they'd release 11 albums, selling more than 4 million copies.

Fame was not without its price however, and by 1975, it was beginning to take its toll.  Carpenter began to exhibit symptoms of anorexia nervosa, a condition that would plague her throughout her remaining years.  She ultimately died of heart failure caused by the disease on February 4, 1983.  She was just one month shy of her 33rd birthday.

Karen Carpenter was buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Cypress, California.  By 1996, both of her parents had passed as well, and they would each be buried next to their daughter.  In 2003 however, Carpenter's family opted to exhume all three and relocate them to Pierce Brothers Valley Oaks Park in Westlake Village.  A 46,000-pound private mausoleum was constructed at an estimated fee of $600,000.  The interior is inscribed with the phrase "A Star on Earth - A Star in Heaven."

Rest in peace.

  • If you want to learn more about Karen Carpenter, take a voyage to Amazon.  It's all in books.

  • Although Carpenter died a married woman, she had planned to divorce her husband, real estate mogul Thomas James Burris.  She was to sign the divorce papers the very day she died.

  • After finding success in the 1970s, Carpenter and her family bought two apartment complexes in Downey, California, dubbing them "Close to You" and "Only Just Begun."  They're still in operation today, and units can be rented via

  • In 1980, Carpenter recorded a self-titled solo album, which A&M Records reportedly shelved.  It was finally released in 1996, 13 years after she passed.  Take a listen on YouTube.

  • After her death, the family started what is today called The Carpenter Family Foundation in her honor.  It raises money for research on eating disorders while providing funding for the arts and education.

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