Carleton Carpenter in Vengeance Valley (1951)
|Born||Carleton Upham Carpenter, Jr.
July 10, 1926
Bennington, Vermont, U.S.
|Occupation||Actor, magician, dancer, songwriter|
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Carpenter was born in Bennington, Vermont, where he attended Bennington High School. Before signing with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, he was a magician and an actor on Broadway, beginning with David Merrick's first production, Bright Boy, in 1944, followed by co-starring appearances in Three to Make Ready with Ray Bolger, John Murray Anderson's Almanac and Hotel Paradiso with Bert Lahr and Angela Lansbury.
Other stage appearances include Hello, Dolly!, opposite Mary Martin (which toured Vietnam during the war and was filmed as a one-hour NBC-TV special), The Boys in the Band, Dylan, Crazy For You, and the City Center revival of Kander and Ebb's 70, Girls, 70.
Carpenter was brought to Hollywood in 1949 by independent producer Louis de Rochemont to play the boy friend in Lost Boundaries. De Rochemont later cast him again, in The Whistle at Eaton Falls (1951). He signed with MGM in 1950, where he made eight films in three years: Father of the Bride, Three Little Words (film), Summer Stock, Two Weeks With Love, Vengeance Valley, Fearless Fagan, Sky Full of Moon and Take the High Ground! Exiting films for stage and TV work, he returned in 1959 for Up Periscope for Warner Bros. and, much later, Cauliflower Cupids (1970) and Some of My Best Friends Are... (1971), as the character "Miss Untouchable".
He gained fame when teamed in 1950 with Debbie Reynolds in Three Little Words (film) and Two Weeks with Love. In a guest sequence in Three Little Words, they perform “I Wanna Be Loved by You” as vaudeville players Ted Healy and Helen Kane, with Reynolds dubbed by Kane. In Two Weeks with Love, where they have featured roles, their duet "Aba Daba Honeymoon" was the first soundtrack recording to become a top-of-the-chart gold record, reaching number three on the Billboard charts.
Carpenter wrote material for Debbie Reynolds, Kaye Ballard, Marlene Dietrich and Hermione Gingold, and also scripts for films and television. He guest-starred on numerous radio and TV shows. He was a featured player on the very early television program Campus Hoopla, which was produced by NBC, via WNBT in New York City, and which aired from 1946-47. Among his television appearances, he played Gilbert Burton, the recipient of $1,000,000 in a 1959 episode of The Millionaire and co-starred with Ann Sothern in the 1954 TV production of Kurt Weill's Lady in the Dark, which he also recorded for RCA Victor Records. In 1963, he played defendant Peter Brent in the Perry Mason episode "The Case of the Lover's Leap".
Carpenter composed the songs "Christmas Eve", recorded by Billy Eckstine, "Cabin in the Woods" and "Ev'ry Other Day", which he recorded for MGM Records and sang on screen in The Whistle at Eaton Falls. In 1943 he wrote the words and melody of the song "Can We Forget". His other song compositions include "I Wouldn't Mind", "A Little Love", and "Come Away". He also wrote a musical Northern Boulevard, which was produced in New York by actress Rosetta LeNoire. In 2012, he received a lifetime achievement award from the Hollywood film organization Cinecon, which was presented to him in person by his former costar Debbie Reynolds
Carpenter was a successful mystery novelist in the 1970s and 1980s. One of his books, Deadhead, was turned into a Broadway musical. Other books he wrote include Games Murderers Play, Cat Got Your Tongue?, Only Her Hairdresser Knew, Sleight of Deadly Hand, The Peabody Experience, and Stumped. His memoir, The Absolute Joy of Work, which will be published in 2017.
- International Motion Picture Almanac. New York: Quigley Publishing Co., 1986.
- David Ragan. 1992. Who's Who in Hollywood. The largest cast of international film personalities ever assembled. New York: Facts on File.
- The Library of Congress Copyright Office: Catalog of Copyright Entries Published by Authority of the Acts of Congress of March 3, 1891, of June 30, 1906, and of March 4, 1909. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1943, Part 3, Musical Compositions, New Series, Vol. 38, Pt. 1, #1, pg. 9
- Cinecon highlights, cinecon.org; accessed January 31, 2016.
- "Bennington's Carleton Carpenter: Actor, author and lion tamer", timesargus.com; accessed January 31, 2016.
- Stoneman, Donnell (August 1976). "Carleton Carpenter". The Advocate (197): 27.
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