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Eleanor Parker Now

Eleanor Parker now on TCMEleanor Parker Now on TCM

Palms Springs area resident Eleanor Parker, who turns 91 next June 26, was one of the best actresses of Hollywood's studio era. Strangely, Parker isn't nearly as well-remembered today as she should be despite three Best Actress Academy Award nominations (Caged, 1950; Detective Story, 1951; Interrupted Melody, 1955), a number of box office and/or critical hits, and a key role in one of the biggest blockbusters of all time (The Sound of Music). Hopefully, the 34 Eleanor Parker movies Turner Classic Movies will be showing each Monday this month – Parker is TCM's Star of the Month of June – will help to introduce the actress to a broader 21st-century audience. (See also: June 2013 Eleanor Parker movies: Detective Story, Valentino, The Oscar.)

Eleanor Parker movies

“When I am spotted somewhere it means that my characterizations haven't covered up Eleanor Parker the person. I prefer it the other way around,” Parker once said. In fact, the title of Doug McClelland's 1989 Eleanor Parker bio, Eleanor Parker: Woman of a Thousand Faces, refers to how the actress was known at the time: a versatile performer who could play comedy or drama, sweet and innocent or vicious and jaded; she could look incredibly beautiful or – well, slightly-less-than incredibly beautiful.

In truth, Eleanor Parker was no Lon Chaney. After stepping on a spider, no one in his/her right mind would worry if that could have been Eleanor Parker. But versatile she was, even if some of her performances weren't as good – or as excellent – as others. You can check out a handful of Parker's “thousand faces” tonight, beginning with the enjoyable Warner Bros. B thriller Busses Roar (1942), featuring cold-hearted saboteurs, oil-yielding fields, and roaring busses.

In Delmer Daves' The Very Thought of You (1944), the recently married Parker finds herself at odds with her family, while in the now utterly forgotten Edward A. Blatt's Between Two Worlds (1944), she and fellow luxury-liner passengers John Garfield and Paul Henreid, among others, try to figure out where they are, why they're there, and where in hell (or heaven or purgatory) they're going in this smooth remake of Outward Bound (1930).

The Michael Curtiz-directed Mission to Moscow (1943), starring Walter Huston as American ambassador Joseph E. Davies in the Soviet Union, got Warner Bros. head Jack Warner in trouble during the anti-Communist hysteria of the post-World War II years, while a headless ghost toplines the mystery thriller The Mysterious Doctor (1943), featuring Parker and John Loder.

Crime by Night (1944), a programmer starring Jerome Cowan and Jane Wyman, is the best one of the lot. This surprisingly clever and well-acted crime comedy is reminiscent of – and in my humble opinion is superior to – MGM's William Powell-Myrna Loy Thin Man movies. In a supporting role, Eleanor Parker is duly eclipsed by leading man Cowan and supporting player Faye Emerson. (See also: “Eleanor Parker, Jean Arthur, Patricia Neal: Forgotten Actresses Montage” and Eleanor Parker among actresses who've never received an Honorary Oscar.)

Below is Eleanor Parker's Turner Classic Movies June 3 film schedule (Pacific Time), via the TCM website.

Eleanor Parker film schedule

5: 00 PM BUSSES ROAR (1942). A saboteur rigs a bomb to destroy a strategic oil field. Dir.: D. Ross Lederman. Cast: Richard Travis, Julie Bishop, Charles Drake, Eleanor Parker, Elisabeth Fraser, Richard Fraser.

6: 15 PM THE VERY THOUGHT OF YOU (1944). In-law problems threaten a wartime marriage. Dir.: Delmer Daves. Cast: Dennis Morgan, Eleanor Parker, Dane Clark, Faye Emerson, Beulah Bondi, Henry Travers, William Prince, Andrea King.

8: 00 PM BETWEEN TWO WORLDS (1944). Passengers on a luxury liner realize they are en route to the afterlife. Dir.: Edward A. Blatt. Cast: John Garfield, Eleanor Parker, Paul Henreid, Sydney Greenstreet, Edmund Gwenn, George Tobias, George Coulouris, Faye Emerson, Sara Allgood, Dennis King, Lester Matthews, Isobel Elsom.

10: 00 PM MISSION TO MOSCOW (1943). True story of U.S. Ambassador Joseph E. Davies' attempts to forge a wartime alliance with the Soviet Union. Dir.: Michael Curtiz. Cast: Walter Huston, Ann Harding, Oscar Homolka, Eleanor Parker, Gene Lockhart, George Tobias, Richard Travis, Helmut Dantine, Victor Francen, Henry Daniell.

12: 15 AM CRIME BY NIGHT (1944). Married detectives investigating a small-town murder uncover a spy ring. Dir.: William Clemens. Cast: Jane Wyman, Jerome Cowan, Faye Emerson, Eleanor Parker, Charles Lang, Stuart Crawford.

1: 30 AM THE LAST RIDE (1944). A detective suspects foul play in a series of accidental deaths. Dir.: D. Ross Lederman. Cast: Richard Travis, Charles Lang, Eleanor Parker, Jack La Rue, Cy Kendall.

2: 30 AM THE MYSTERIOUS DOCTOR (1943). Nazi agents use a headless ghost as a front. Dir.: Ben Stoloff. Cast: John Loder, Eleanor Parker, Bruce Lester, Lester Matthews, Forrester Harvey.

3: 30 AM HOLLYWOOD CANTEEN (1944). A serviceman and a starlet find love at the star-staffed serviceman's center. Dir.: Delmer Daves. Cast: Joan Leslie, Dane Clark, The Andrews Sisters, Jack Benny, Joe E. Brown, Eddie Cantor, Eleanor Parker, Joan Crawford, Alexis Smith, Bette Davis, Jack Carson, Kitty Carlisle, Helmut Dantine, Faye Emerson, Victor Francen, John Garfield, Sydney Greenstreet, Alan Hale, Paul Henreid, Robert Hutton, Andrea King, Peter Lorre, Ida Lupino, Irene Manning, Joan McCracken, Dolores Moran, Dennis Morgan, Janis Paige, William Prince, Joyce Reynolds, Roy Rogers, Trigger, S.Z. Sakall, Zachary Scott, Barbara Stanwyck, Craig Stevens, Donald Woods, Jane Wyman, Dorothy Malone.

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10 Comments to Eleanor Parker Now

  1. Fred Maller

    For me Eleanor Parker will always be the most versatile and talented of actresses of the golden age of films as well as the most beautiful. She had a quality no other actress possessed which is that she could change like a chamelion within the same film, not just from film to film. In “Lizzie” she actually played three different characters and gave a terrific performance. Her transference in “Caged” from naive frightened young girl to hard boiled con is wonderful. And her independent, feisty opera singer from “Interrupted Melody” to the hopeless and very sad former opera star is nothing short of magnificent! They talk about Meryl Streep being versatile…well, I am a big fan of Meryl Streep's but she just pales next to the master!

  2. Denise

    I love Eleanor Parker; she is a beautiful, talented and classy lady. I have read the bio “Woman of a Thousand Faces” and just about everything else I could find about her; and have seen every movie/television event that is available today. What struck me most is the fact that Ms. Parker was a true “craftsperson” when it came to acting. It may have been Eleanor Parker that showed up to the studio everyday, but what we see on the screen is a complete embodiment of the character. In my humble opinion that is what made her such a great actress, but may also be the reason she is not as well known as her talent would dictate she should be- Ms. Parker took a back seat to the characters she portrayed. There are countless actors/actresses that believe that make-up, wigs and costumes make the character; not Ms. Parker. She created the characters she portrayed with true acting ability. It is my deepest wish that Ms. Parker is in good health, enjoying a full life, and knows how many great fans she still has! I would love to see her do an interview with Robert Osborn on TCM!!!! Of course I would also love to see her receive an honorary Oscar for her contributions to great films; that may begin to make up for the one she definately should have won for “Interrupted Melody”. I also believe she could have won for “Caged” and “The Detective Story” and should have been nominated for “The Very Thought of You” and “Pride of the Marines”.

  3. Norman Cooney

    I always thought Eleanor Parker was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen on the Silver Screen and
    tried to see all her movies but the one that I thought was the best in my eyes was Detective Story with Kirk Douglas,William Bendix and Edward Binns for I thought it took all her abilities to play opposite Douglas as he played a sociopath with many issues!! We share the same month for births,June mine was the second in 1931 and she was nine years older than me but I always thought she was younger!! Is she still as lovely I don't know but it seems to me she should have always been as beautiful but just aging like a Greek Goddess.. I don't know what she does nor do I know if she ever married or had children but I hope she is healthy and still maintains her lovliness regardless her age!! You are 91 and I am 82 and In still walk ten miles daily and bike fourteen and lift weights six hundred times daily and swim
    when I can in unpolluted lakes…I golf daily and love it although the greens fees keep going up
    like most everything else..I hope you are healthy and sill active and I wish you long life to at least one hundred twenty five!!!!!!!
    Norm Cooney

  4. Rose Condon

    Having been a constant fan of TCM since it began I mus t write concerning Eleanor Parker that she is certainly beautiful and obviously an excellent actress,however, there was something about her manner that did not have that memorable relation to the audience. It is hard to pin point but there was a lack of really letting go perhaps. True movie buffs like me know her but not the average fan. Everyone I know who is in their 70s & 80s talk about the one of a kind Rita Hayworth, I am in my 60s and she is still the Goddess. My own kids think she is gorgeous also we all watch her movies. For superb acting Bette Davis is Tops. Those two are still the best. Don't you agree?

  5. Laura Peace Stafford

    I love Eleanor Parker….beautiful actress…i have been watching her movies on TCM.

  6. Barry

    She deserved an Oscar nomination as the Baroness in the Sound of Music.

  7. orringtonmom (D)

    i'm loving the TCM tribute… of course, i knew her best from TSOM but have come to appreciate how really great she was. in fact, it has made really how perfectly she played the baroness. underrated, but NOT FORGOTTEN.

  8. rosspacker

    Great actress Loved her in Pride of the Marines She was beautiful
    and the mother of 4 Children

  9. Al Lourrie

    Wow! Sounds promising, she sure is beautiful.
    I haven't really seen one of her movies in a while.

  10. donna

    Eleanor Parker is beautiful! One of my most favorite of actresses. So happy to know she is still alive..making it to almost 91 soon..WOW…Just a beautiful lady and great actress. She never got the acclaim that was due her…for sure!