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why did karen carpenter divorce,
Karen Carpenter was an American singer and drummer, who was part of the iconic duo the Carpenters alongside her brother Richard.
Born on March 2, 1950 in New Haven, Connecticut, she was the daughter of Agnes Reuwer (1915 – 1996) and Harold Bertram Carpenter (1908 – 1988).
Karen was nervous about performing in public at first, but said she “was too involved in the music to worry about it”.
Her first band was Two Plus Two, an all-girl trio with friends from her high school. They split up after she suggested her brother Richard join.
After forming the Richard Carpenter Trio with his college friend Wes Jacobs, A&M Records eventually signed them as the Carpenters in 1969.
Carpenter released her first solo single ‘Looking For Love’ in 1967, but only 500 copies were made.
In 1979, when Richard took a year off to treat his addiction, Karen wanted to make a solo album with producer Phil Ramone. Several sessions produced music that was quite different from the usual Carpenters output, focusing on disco and up-tempo tracks.
The album met with a negative reaction from Richard and A&M executives in early 1980. The album was then shelved altogether by A&M Records co-owner Herb Alpert, despite attempts by producer Quincy Jones to convince him to release it after a fresh remix.
A small section of the solo album was released in 1989, when some of its tracks (remixed by Richard) were featured on the album Lovelines.
In 1996, the complete album, titled simply Karen Carpenter, was finally released.
Karen and her brother put on their first album, Offering (later renamed Ticket to Ride), in 1969. While this album failed to take off, they hit it big with their next release, 1970’s Close to You. By this time, Karen dropped the drums to focus on singing. “(They Long to Be) Close to You,”
written by Burt Bacharach, became the duo’s first chart-topping single. The song also earned them a Grammy win for best contemporary vocal performance by a duo, group or chorus. The album also featured another now classic Carpenters hit, “We’ve Only Just Begun.” The Carpenters picked up the Grammy for best new artist in 1970,
and they continued to reach the charts with such songs as “Rainy Days and Mondays,” “Superstar” and “Hurting Each Other.”
Sometimes maligned by critics for being too sentimental and square, the Carpenters won over a substantial fan base with their soft rock sound and their carefully crafted pop songs. Karen’s lovely vocals were an essential part of the duo’s appeal. Their squeaky clean persona won over such famous fans as President Richard Nixon who had them play at the White House in 1973. That same year, they scored such hits as “Sing” and “Top of the World.” Unfortunately, the extensive touring and other pressures began to weigh on Karen.
Carpenter had a fixation with her weight from her earliest days performing with her brother,
Richard, in and around their hometown of Downey, California. As a teenager, she dropped at least 25 pounds on a popular and severe weight-loss program known as “the Water Diet,” so that by the time she and Richard burst on the pop scene with their smash hit “Close To You” in the summer of 1970, she was a thin but healthy 20-year-old carrying 120 lbs. on a 5′ 5″ frame. She maintained that weight through the early years of the Carpenters’ success,
yet it appears that Karen’s insecurities about her appearance only grew, even as she was becoming one of the biggest pop stars of her era.
why did karen carpenter divorce,
Carpenter died in 1983 at the age of 32 from heart failure related to her long battle with anorexia nervosa — she was one of the first celebrities to publicly fight the disease. In the biography Little Girl Blue:
The Life of Karen Carpenter, author Randy Schmidt revealed that Agnes, Karen and Richard Carpenter’s mother, favored the piano prodigy brother, Richard,
over Karen. Only after her anorexia and bulimia became apparent did her mother pay more attention to her — in a way, rewarding the over-dieting Karen engaged in regularly.
As Karen struggled to overcome her eating disorders, she found love — or so she thought. She became engaged to handsome real estate developer Tom Burris,
then 39, in June 1980 after dating just two months. They planned an elegant August wedding, but many of Karen’s friends were wary of the relationship and its quick pace. They also expressed concern that Burris was nine years older than Karen and had an 18-year-old son from another marriage.
Days before their wedding rehearsal dinner, Burris admitted to Carpenter he’d had a vasectomy before meeting her. Although he offered to reverse the procedure,
the chances of the couple having children would be reduced because of his past surgery. Schmidt wrote in her book, “Karen felt betrayed. Burris had lied to her;
he had withheld this information for the duration of their courtship and engagement, knowing full well that starting a family was at the top of Karen’s list of priorities.” Carpenter wanted to cancel the wedding, but her mother would not let her. Agnes already had financed most of the wedding expenses and the invitations had been sent. She told her daughter she could not back out.
Once they married, things only got worse. Burris liked living beyond his means and started asking her for money, sometimes taking $50,000 at a time. “The marriage to Burris was a disaster,” the Independent wrote,
“He was cruel and impatient with her, calling her a ‘bag of bones’ and telling her he would never have a child with her.” In November 1981, she filed for divorce after 14 months.
Reeling from the experience, Carpenter sought treatment from a psychotherapist, Steven Levenkron, who specialized in eating disorders, and started relying on laxatives to control her weight.
Arriving at Levenkron’s office at 16 East Seventy-Ninth in Manhattan, Karen weighed in at an alarming 5st 8lb. A week into their daily sessions,
Karen admitted to Levenkron she was taking a large number of laxative tablets – 80-90 Dulcolax a night. This did not surprise Levenkron. In fact, it was a common practice for many anorexics. “For quite some time, I was taking 60 laxatives at once,” admits Cherry O’Neill. “Mainly because that was how many came in the box… I would ingest the entire contents so as not to leave any evidence.”
What did stun Levenkron was Karen’s next casual disclosure. She was also taking thyroid medication – 10 pills a day. He was shocked, especially when she explained that she had a normal thyroid. Realising she was using the medication to speed up her metabolism, Levenkron confiscated the pills. This was the first case of thyroid medication abuse he had seen in his dozen years in the field.
According to Levenkron’s 1982 book, Treating and Overcoming Anorexia Nervosa, the patient must become totally dependent upon the therapist. Once the patient has transferred their dependence on to him,
he tries to teach them how to create their own sense of identity, and he helps them disengage from their dependence on him with new behaviours, habits, and thought patterns.
Karen took advantage of the beautiful spring weather and began a new exercise routine – to and
from her sessions with Levenkron – a brisk two-mile round-trip walk. This was yet another method to burn extra calories. Outwardly Karen seemed committed to the idea of therapy, but as evidenced by her daily walking regimen, she was not as committed to making actual changes that would result in real progress. “She was still walking a lot, and she was exercising,” Carole Curb says. “And then she was into throwing up and taking pills that make you lose water-weight. Debilitating things like that.”
Several months into his sessions with Karen, Levenkron began to suspect that she had fallen off the wagon. He invited the Carpenter parents and Richard to a 90-minute family therapy session at his office. “They did come to New York –finally,” Itchie Ramone recalls, “and only after a lot of nudging. By then, Karen seemed to be starting to turn the corner a bit emotionally.”
By the autumn of 1982 Karen showed no real signs of progress. In fact, her walks to and from sessions with Levenkron kept her body weight beneath the six stone mark. Itchie Ramone called Levenkron and voiced her concerns. “Look, Karen’s getting thinner and thinner,” she exclaimed. “Plus, it’s obvious she doesn’t have her usual energy anymore. When do you expect this turnaround? She’s just skin and bone.”
impact of Karen’s death on Thomas Burris
The impact of Karen’s death on Thomas Burris When Karen died in February 1983,
Many have accused Thomas of being selfish to Karen’s family. While they had separated a few months earlier,
the businessman could have buried their differences and write a tribute to a woman that sacrificed a lot to spend more than two years with him. Since Thomas did not speak or explain the reasons for his unexpected silence,
it is hard to know how the death of his ex-wife affected him. Also, the Carpenter family has never published a press release to explain if they prevented Thomas from attending Karen’s burial.
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