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KAREN

CARPENTER
Karen Anne Carpenter
Born on March 2, 1950 in New Haven, Connecticut
Youngest of 2 childrenshe had an older brother,
Richard (born 1946)
Was active as a childwent to ballet and tap dance
classes, as well as played various sports.
Her favorite was Wiffleball, a variation of baseball, where she pitched and
played 1st base
Karen Carpenter
Entered Downey High School in 1964
Played in the school marching band for PE credit, where she was assigned
the glockenspiel

Became interested with the drums, and asked to be part


of the drum line
Was assigned the cymbals, and then eventually the tenor
drum and then the snare drums
Karen Carpenter
Immediately at ease with the snare drums, she spent
hours rehearsing before and after school
At home, she assembled kitchen barstools and pots and
pans to simulate a drum set
Was eventually bought an entry-level set
Her first teacher was Frankie Chavez, another drummer
from the school marching band
Karen Carpenter
Became the drummer of Two Plus Two, an all-girl band in
her high school
1967: graduated high school with the John Philip Sousa
Band Award and enrolled in California State University,
Long Beach as a music major like her brother
1965-1968: Formed the Richard Carpenter Trio, an
instrumental jazz group, with her brother and his
schoolmate Wes Jacobs
1966: Began using her full voice to sing
Considered herself a drummer who just happened to
sing despite all the singing she had to do
Karen Carpenter
Along with her brother and other musicians, including
John Bettis and Gary Sims, performed as an ensemble
called Spectrum
April 22, 1969: she and her brother were officially signed
to A&M Records as The Carpenters
The Carpenters
Soft music style
One of the best-selling artists of all time
In their 14 year career:
had 3 No. 1 singles and 5 No. 2 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 and 15 No.
1 hits on the Adult Contemporary chart, plus 12 top 10 singles
3 Grammy Awards (1970 - Best New Artist, Best Pop Performance by a Duo,
Group, or Chorus; 1971 - Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group)
Voted Favorite Pop/Rock Band in the 1st American Music Awards

Hit songs include: (They Long To Be) Close To You,


Weve Only Just Begun, Rainy Days and Mondays,
Superstar, & Top of the World
1969
Karen Carpenter
Throughout her adult life and especially her career, she
was very conscious about her weight and body
1982: set forth on a year-long recovery for an eating
disorder (which caused her to lose an alarming amount of
weight through the years)
December 17, 1982: her last public performance
Performed for children at Buckley School in Sherman Oaks, where the
children of a dear friend attended

Died on February 4, 1983 (heart failure)


H i s t o r y o f Pr e s e n t I l l n e s s
H i s t o r y o f Pr e s e n t I l l n e s s
January 1982 - Karen set forth on a recovery mission
from her broken marriage with Tom Burris, relocating
to New York Citys Regency Hotel. She started seeing
Steven Levenkron, a therapist.

He was the new kid on the block, but he did have


some answers. No one really knew why someone
would get the disorder or how to treat it. . . . so we
were really looking to him to quote save her.
H i s t o r y o f Pr e s e n t I l l n e s s
Karen explained how her anorexic behaviors began
the day she walked away from Menningers after
leaving Richard there.
A week into their sessions, Karen admitted to
Levenkron she was taking 80-90 Dulcolax tablets a
night and 10 pills of thyroid medication. Levenkron
confiscated the vials after realizing that she was using
the thyroid medication to speed her metabolism.

Sherwin Bash said: She had her sweater and her jacket and
everything on, and through it all I could feel the bones. She said
she was doing fine and that she was at the point where she was
well aware that she was a victim of anorexia. She said she was
doing better and under a therapists care.
H i s t o r y o f Pr e s e n t I l l n e s s
Outwardly, Karen seemed committed to the idea of
therapy. However, Carole Curb says: She was still
walking a lot, . . . and then she was into throwing up
and taking water pills that make you lose water
weight.
Levenkron invited the Carpenter parents and Richard
to a ninety minute family therapy session at his office.
By the fall of 1982, Karen showed no real signs of
progress.
H i s t o r y o f Pr e s e n t I l l n e s s
In mid-September, Karen phoned Levenkron because
she was suffering from extreme dehydration. He asked
Dr. Gerald Bernstein to meet him and Karen for an
evaluation. Karen was admitted to New Yorks Lenox
Hill Hospital on September 20, 1982, to begin
hyperalimentation, or intravenous feeding.

It was revealed that Karen had a critically low blood


potassium level of 1.8. The normal range is 3.5 to 5.5.
H i s t o r y o f Pr e s e n t I l l n e s s
Karen went into surgery to have a small-bore catheter
implanted within the superior vena cava. An
unexpected complication was discovered. It was found
that the doctors had accidentally punctured one of
her lungs in their attempts to insert the tube.

The hyperalimentation process completely replaced all


of her nutritional needs, and a precise daily calorie
intake was dispensed through the catheter. Karen
gained twelve pounds in only a few days.
By November Karen was eating three meals a day at
and gained almost thirty pounds mark. Her menstrual
cycle, which had ceased during the previous year, had
also returned.
H i s t o r y o f Pr e s e n t I l l n e s s
Karen was discharged from the hospital on November
8, 1982.
Even though Karens weight was above one hundred
pounds, people were shocked to see that she looked
as frail as ever.
On January 27, 1983, she was found lying on the floor
of her closet due to fatigue.
H i s t o r y o f Pr e s e n t I l l n e s s
On Friday morning, February 4, Agnes found Karens
nude body lying facedown on the closet floor. Her
eyes were open but rolled back. She was lying in a
straight line and did not appear to have fallen.

Arriving at 9:23 a.m., the unidentified patient was


reportedly in full cardiac arrest, not breathing and
without a heartbeat. The medical team at Downey
Community spent twenty-eight minutes attempting to
resuscitate Karen. At 9:51 a.m., Karen Anne Carpenter
was pronounced dead.
Fa m i l y H i s t o r y
Fa m i l y H i s t o r y
Harold Bertram Carpenter
China -> England -> New York
peripatetic childhood
eldest son of missionaries and fine pianists, George and
Nellie
not interested in making music but he appreciates it
delivered newspapers when he was in high school; was
forced to drop out and work when his mom got sick with
a lung ailment
moved with his aunt and uncle to work in Catonsville,
Maryland. There, he worked in a printing firm.
Fa m i l y H i s t o r y
Agnes Reuwer Tatum
Baltimore
daughter of the owner of a wholesale undergarment
business, George Arthur; had three other sisters
athletic and played basketball
enjoyed sewing and was a fine seamstress; made
their dresses and coats as well as the velour drapes in
their windows
moved to Catonsville

She was introduced to Harold by a neighbor. Harold courted her for 4


years. Then, in 1935, they had a simple wedding.
Fa m i l y H i s t o r y
1935 Tatum residence
Richmond, Virginia, $5/wk furnished apartment
1936 moved to a larger one; became surrogate parents of Joanie
moved again to a larger home
1940 settled in an apartment in New Haven, Connecticut until 1943

Harold was skilled at running the color printing equipment. Agnes operated a
thread mill machine until 1945. They moved to Hall Street.
Also became surrogate parents of niece, Joanie.

Richard Lynn Carpenter


was born on October 15, 1946
He became interested in his fathers extensive record
collection. Even before he could read, he would listen
to them for hours and he asked for his own records.
Fa m i l y H i s t o r y
House at New Haven: everything was clean shiny; complete furnitures, porch,
backyard, landscaped lawns; the children played with their neighbors kids
- Richard and Karen, together with the other kids, stayed in the
Carpenters basement and listen to Richards library.

For extra income: car washing business; pickup and delivery service

Mom was known for having the cleanest garage in Connecticut, Karen
recalled in 1971. My God, if you mopped, the mop didnt get dirty!

According to Frank Bonito, Agnes was compulsively clean, almost to the


point of having some kind of psychiatric issues. . . . The woman made sure
everything was immaculate. I can remember her going next door one time
and cleaning the next-door neighbors windows on her side of the house
because they upset her. She was a very nice woman but very uptight. She
seemed to be very stressed all the time.
Fa m i l y H i s t o r y
I did everything that Richard did, she said in a 1981 interview. If he
listened to music, I listened to music. It was unconscious, but because I
idolized him so much... every record that weve ever listened to is
embedded in my mind.

Richard as a teenager - thin, gangly, somewhat


uncoordinated, not physically active as Karen, spent most
of his time listening to music; was bullied; got upset easily

She can take care of herself and Richard, Agnes explained in 1972.
When they were little kids, she always defended him. Shed take on
all the roughnecks and make them leave Richard alone.
Fa m i l y H i s t o r y
Richard became part of a band when he was
in high school. He helped Karen be part of
the schools marching band. She played the
glockenspiel, then the cymbals, and then the
tenor drum.
Given Karens track record with musical
instruments, her parents were skeptical.
They were quite sure it was just another
passing fancy. But after Karen urged them,
they bought her a basic drum kit and later
on, a Super Sensitive Snare. They asked
Richards opinion first.
Fa m i l y H i s t o r y
Richard Carpenter Trio, an instrumental jazz group with the
classic combo piano, bass, drums
Wes Jacobs, a skillful upright bassist
Karen took voice lessons

Unlike Richard, who practiced endlessly, Karen rarely, if ever,


rehearsed between her lessons with Pooler. Concerned that their
money might be better spent somewhere else, the Carpenter parents
met with her teacher to inquire about Karens progress.

Agnes invited her friend at work, Evelyn Wallace to watch her kids play.
Agnes called out to her daughter seated behind the drums. Sing it,
Karen, she said. Sing out!
Wallace sat spellbound. I had never heard a voice like that in all my
life, she says.
Fa m i l y H i s t o r y
Carpenters
still lived with their parents
Agnes Carpenter took charge of her childrens
finances. She has put Karen and Richard on an
allowance, limiting what they spend on.
Fa m i l y H i s t o r y
Harold was the greatest. What a doll. What a sweet, sweet man.
Evelyn Wallace agrees, recalling Harold as a quiet man who was nice
to everybody. He was a real sweetheart, and I admired him so much,
she says. Many times I wondered how he could live with that woman
the way she used to yell and scream at him. She would jump on him,
and he would never ever fight back. He just sat there and took it. He
wasnt a sissy but just a real nice guy. Agnes was the speaker, so he
wasnt really one to get a word in edgewise.

Agnes kind of has a mean streak in her sometimes, Harold told


Evelyn in the home office one afternoon.
Fa m i l y H i s t o r y
Harold wasnt allowed to have an opinion, Frenda says. Agnes was
a bulldozer. In my own way I loved her. She was Karens mother, and
she gave her life. But I was sorry that she had so many prejudices. She
used really bad language, too. Id never known anyone that called
somebody the n-word. Those things do not go down well with me. I
was shocked.

Evelyn Wallace: Harold and Karen were both sweethearts. Richard,


on the other hand, was just like his mother...They were bitchy, even to
each other...Yet Richard was still her baby.
Fa m i l y H i s t o r y
1973 Richard fell in love with Maria. Agnes got rid of
her through Karen. Karen didnt want to follow her
mothers orders but she did eventually.

Sherwin Bash: Im sure in her own way Agnes loved Karen, but it wasnt
something she was able to express. I think it eventually that was one of the
most serious problems Karen had...Karen Carpenter became beloved in the
world as a very special artist...who reminded everybody of the daughter they
wished they had. In her own home she never was told or maybe never even
felt that existed from her own parents, especially her mother.

difficulty moving out of the house


Fa m i l y H i s t o r y
Richard got addicted to Quaalades, had panic attacks,
and anxiety issues.
- They started lip-synching, cancelling shows and
performances due to Richards substance abuse and
Karens physical condition.
90-minute family therapy with Levenkron, Karens
therapist
Romantic Relationships
Romantic Relationships
Jerry Vance
clarinet player
steady high school boyfriend
dated for several years but was nothing serious
buddy situation than a romance
Romantic Relationships
Spending most of her time on tour, Karen did not have
much time for romantic relationships
Most of the men she dated were within her entourage:
Gary Sims, guitarist
Jim Anthony, later drummer
Frenda Franklin: These were lightweight relationships
or puppy love--- They werent anything Karen wasnt in
control of.
Romantic Relationships
dated Alan Osmond briefly but it did not develop into a
serious relationship because of work demands on both
their parts
Frank Bonito on Karens frustration with finding love:
Its not unusual for people in that kind of situation to
have romances with the people theyre working with. They
live a very confined life because they are constantly
travelling. Who do you meet? Even if you wanted to date
someone, who do you see?
Romantic Relationships
Karen: You tend to travel in the same circles with the
same people, meet the same people, and hang out with
the same people. Even when you come home you never
really meet anybody new
1973: started dating David Alley, a sound equipment
personnel who went on tour with them
Romantic Relationships
Difficulties in dating David:
Richard was in between them they did not show their fondness
for each other when he was around
Karen did not see a future with him his employment was
dependent on them
*Karen required a potential husband that was independently wealthy
and not reliant on her income
Maria Galeazzi: The person had to be somebody way up
there. Her standards were high. Some regular dude was
just not going to do.
Romantic Relationships
Frenda Franklin: Karen had a propensity to fall in love
with people that could change her life in big ways...She
was like a little starstruck girl. These guys were not only
handsome, they were powerful, they dressed great, they
smelled great, and they were wealthy. She saw it as a way
out...it was freedom.
Romantic Relationships
Mike Curb
Tall, handsome record executive
Dated when she had concerning problems with eating already---was able to
get Karen to eat (encouraged her to finish her food on their dates)

She was always concerned that when she ate her


weight went to her hips, so she wouldnt eat...she was
trying to lose weight by just not eating. She would order a
meal and maybe eat 25 percent of her food. She was just
sort of moving the food around her plate.
Romantic Relationships
Terry Ellis
Manager, produce, owner of Chrysalis studios
Moved into his Beverly Hills home
No issues with Richard but Agnes was furious
Ellis: she saw me as a threat to her control over Karen
Ellis asked Karen to moved to England with himKaren
freaked out
Romantic Relationships
Later on, Karen would become uneasy with the largeness
of his mansion and the loneliness she felt there (there
was no tv)
The relationship ended as quickly as it had begun
Karen eventually phoned him, moved out and moved
back in with her parents
Ellis suspected that this was due to Agnes hypnotic hold
on Karen
Romantic Relationships
Ellis: Her mother gave her such hell that she just moved
straight back, he says. Its difficult to know if thats what
Karen wanted or if thats what Karen had to have or what
was forced on her by her mother and her family.
it was also the end of the Carpenters professional
relationship with him
it was also another botched attempt by Karen at
breaking free and leaving home
Romantic Relationships
1980: met and fell in love with Tom
Burris, a businessman
Quickly became engaged, amidst
protests and warnings from friends
and loved ones
Days before their wedding, Tom
revealed that he had a vasectomy;
Karen was devastated because she
wanted children badly
Wanted to call off the wedding, but
was forced to go through with it by
Agnes to save face
Romantic Relationships
Had a big wedding, but Karen was unhappy
Burris also did not seem to take his vows seriously
Eventually, Karen learned the truth: Burris was going
bankrupt and only pursued her for her money
"According to Karen, Tom had told her he wouldnt even
consider having children with her and called her a bag of
bones.
this disaster only served to exacerbate her illness
Romantic Relationships
In October 29, 1982, while in the middle of her year-long
recovery mission, she scrawled her name across a petition
for divorce
A few days before her death, she reviewed her final
divorce decree which included paying Burris money

Itchie Ramone: ...she was finally going to sign her divorce


papers and pay Tom off. She was ready to pay him the
money and send him on his wayone million dollars.
Thats what she said: Ill give you the million dollars, now
get lost!
Anamnesis
Anamnesis

On March 2 1950 Karen Anne was born

Everything was clean shiny; complete furnitures,


porch, backyard, landscaped lawns; the children
played with their neighbors kids
Anamnesis
On her mother: Mom was known for having the cleanest
garage in Connecticut, Karen recalled in 1971. My God,
if you mopped, the mop didnt get dirty!

According to Frank Bonito, Agnes was compulsively


clean, almost to the point of having some kind of
psychiatric issues. . . . The woman made sure everything
was immaculate. I can remember her going next door one
time and cleaning the next-door neighbors windows on
her side of the house because they upset her. She was a
very nice woman but very uptight. She seemed to be
very stressed all the time.
Anamnesis
As she would do for much of her life, Karen took on
Richards interests.
Music became their shared passion, and the two
would swing to the music for hours.
I did everything that Richard did, she said in a 1981
interview. If he listened to music, I listened to music.
It was unconscious, but because I idolized him so
much... every record that weve ever listened to is
embedded in my mind.

In 1963, they relocated to California; Richard was


ecstatic but Karen was not because she did not want
to leave her friends; she even had received
scholarships in private schools.
Anamnesis

They never regretted the move, and saw California as


a land of opportunity
Agnes bragged about her son and his talent; the kids
got embarrassed
Anamnesis

Karen was the drummer and didnt sing at all yet,


Friberg recalls. She was listening to Louie Bellson and
Buddy Rich. Those were some of her idols. I remember
going into her room at their house, and she had
pictures on the wall of all these great drummers. Her
goal was to be as good as they were. She was great
then, by all I could tell, but not good enough for her. -
Dan Friberg (trumpets)
Anamnesis
I cant really remember why I started to sing, Karen said
in 1975. It just kind of happened. But I never really
discovered the voice that you know nowthe low one
until later, when I was sixteen. I used to sing in this upper
voice, and I didnt like it. I was uncomfortable, so I think I
would tend to shy away from it because I didnt think I
was that good. And I wasnt. Its kind of corny to listen
back, she recalled. We had an original recording of one
of Richards songs that Id sung, and the range was too
big. Id be going from the low voice to the high voice, and
even though it was all in tune, the top part was feeble and
it was different. You wouldnt know it was me. Then
suddenly one day out popped this voice, and it was
natural.
Anamnesis
Becoming more confident in Karens vocals, Richard
began to feature her with their act

Joe was captivated by her husky voice; asked his friend


and drummer Mickey Jones to go to Downey and see
this chubby little girl perform; Joe wanted to record
her and contact the parents;

This was surely good news, but it did not sit well with
Agnes Carpenter. She was set on the idea of her son
becoming the familys famous musician. After all,
theyd moved across the country in hopes of Richard
getting into the music business, and now he was being
disregarded in favor of his kid sister, a musical novice.
Anamnesis
Spring 1967, she graduated from Downey High School
She eventually enrolled in college as a music major,
and had a fascinating talent of impersonating other
people with her voice.
At 17, Karen was 54 and 145 lbs. She had a classic
hourglass figure.
I was heavier, Karen said in a 1973 interview. About
twenty pounds heavier, to tell you the truth. I was just
tired of being fat so I went on a diet. . . . I found this
sweater I used to wear in high school. Good Lord, I
think I could get into it three times today. I dont know
how I ever got through a door.
Anamnesis
Frankie Chavez:

She always seemed very self-confident, and I dont think


she ever even contemplated dieting when I knew her.
Karen was a perfectionist as far as her performances were
concerned, and she set the bar very high for herself, but
there was no indication that she had any problems at all.
Anamnesis
Summer 1967, the family doctor suggested the
popular Stillman water diet.
- quick weight loss through limiting intake of carbohydrates and
fatty foods while increasing daily water intake to eight
glasses.
Karen hated water, but after only six weeks she shed
twenty-five pounds and was determined to maintain
her new figure.
When Spectrums (the new group after Wes Jacobs
left) late-night rehearsals ended, everyone in the band
was hungry and went for dinner, which was frustrating
for Karen.
Anamnesis
John Daugherty, while working at North American
Aviation in Downey, received a copy of the Carpenters
demo and later recommended them to A&M Records

I put on the tape, and I was really knocked out


with the sound of Karens voice to start with. It
touched me. It had nothing to do with what was
happening in the market at the moment, but thats
what touched me even more. I felt like it was time.
Herb Alpert
Anamnesis
1969 April 22: Jerry Moss officially signed the
Carpenters to A&M
For their first recording sessions, Richard chose to
record a ballad version of Lennon and McCartneys
Ticket to Ride
Instead of producing new songs, the Carpenters chose
to record much of their existing works written during
the Spectrum years
Anamnesis
It was seen during this time how Richards solo vocals
became less prominent in each release until they
disappeared entirely

Their debut album, Offering, was released on 1969


October 9

Offering, tends toward being the sort of album many


rock critics were encouraging at the time: a post-folk, soft-
psychedelic, Southern Californian mini-oratorio fresh
and original concepts Carpenters should have a big hit
on their hands. Tom Nolan
Anamnesis
The siblings were anxious because they know their
music wasnt selling well to the public and that they
invested so much in producing the album, Offering.
Alpert believed that the audience would catch up to
them and admire the fact that they were so unique
and driven
During this time, Hal Blaine replaced Karens role as
the drummer because Alpert believed that Karens
drumming lacked the muscle to compete in the Top 40
records. This was contradicted by Agnes Carpenter
who believes that Karen is as good as the other
drummers
Anamnesis
The Carpenters next hit song was (They Long To Be)
Close to You which debuted on June 20 1970. This
ranked No. 1 on the charts for 4 succeeding weeks.
The Carpenters were climbing the charts and many
shows were asking for interviews and television
appearance.

The thing about Karens voice is that its strange


combination of innocence and sensuality Paul Williams

Weve Only Just Begun was released alongside the


Close to You album in 1970 August and within eight
weeks was No.2 on the Hot 100
Anamnesis
1969 April 22: Jerry Moss officially signed the
Carpenters to A&M
For their first recording sessions, Richard chose to
record a ballad version of Lennon and McCartneys
Ticket to Ride
Instead of producing new songs, the Carpenters chose
to record much of their existing works written during
the Spectrum years
Anamnesis
Upon hearing the album Offering to Sherwin Bash of
BNB Management, he considered the vocal
harmonies, the construction, and the songs
exceptional, but what caught his attention was Karens
voice which he found special.
The Carpenters were the hottest young act in the
recording industry with two hit singles, Close to you
and Weve Only Just Begun, and a hit album, Close
to you by the fall of 1970. Each receiving a golden
record.
Anamnesis
According to Frank Pooler, Richard was the brains
behind the Carpenters. Karen did what she was told.
The days of the Carpenters performing as an opening
act were over. On May 14, 1971, they headlined a
sold-out concert at New York Citys legendary
Carnegie Hall, where Karen and the group performed
an already impressive set of their hits in succession.
Rainy Days and Mondays and For All We Know
received immediate and enthusiastic response from
the audience, who knew their songs word-for-word.
Anamnesis
At just five feet, four inches tall, Karen Carpenter was
barely visible on stage when surrounded by her
battery of drums
Sherwin Bash mentioned that she was very reluctant
to leave the drums. That they were kind of a security
blanket for her.

This was a chubby young lady who could hide some of that chubbiness
behind all of these drums. She was kind of a tomboy, and the drums were
traditionally a male instrument. She was kind of asserting herself in a certain
way. The girl vocalist out front was a role that she wanted to achieve, but she
was insecure about getting out there. She wasnt sure she was slim enough,
svelte enough, pretty enough, or any of those things.-Sherwin Bash
Anamnesis
In early 1971 Karen responded to suggestions that she
should abandon her drums for a solo microphone in
the spotlight.

A lot of people think that since Im the lead singer


I should be fronting the group, she said. I disagree
because I think weve got enough chick singers
fronting groups. I think that as long as I can play, I
want to play.

An unlikely friendship was born when Karen began to


reach out more and more to Frenda Franklin.
Anamnesis
Karen was a people pleaser with a strong desire to
keep everyone around her happy, even if it came at her
own expense. Her closest friends knew she was sensitive
and vulnerable, and neither quality could withstand her
mothers brutality. Somewhere along the way Karen had
adopted a rugged exterior an almost masculine facade
to protect herself from her mothers unapologetic
harshness. She struggled with femininity, and many who
were close to her say Karen always remained childlike, like
a little girl who never really grew up or blossomed into a
woman.
Anamnesis
Between the years 1970 and 1975, Sherwin Bash
witnessed a gradual transformation in Karen from an
immature tomboy to an attractive young woman.
What Bash had sensed was in actuality a concentrated
effort on Karens part to shed her tomboy qualities for
a more feminine persona. She wanted to be a
woman, says Frenda, She so wanted to be refined.
She wanted to be what she called uptown. It sounds
so peculiar, but she wanted what she knew she could
earn and wanted all the finery that went along with
her career. She looked to me for that.
Anamnesis
Being the only girl makes you the center of
attention, Karen explained in a 1971 interview for Teen
magazine. Lets face it, any girl likes to get attention, and
the guys are all very protective toward me. Its wild, I tell
you. I cant make a move. Theyre always watching out for
me.
Anamnesis
Spending most of her time on tour, Karen did not have much
time for serious romantic relationships, but she dated a few of
her bandmates.
o Maria Galeazzi: The person had to be somebody way up
there. Her standards were high. Some regular dude was just
not going to do.
On the Carpenters family:
o Evelyn Wallace: Harold and Karen were both sweethearts.
Richard, on the other hand, was just like his mother...They
were bitchy, even to each other...Yet Richard was still her
baby.
Karen was well-aware of her second place rank and perhaps even
thought it was justified. Agnes adoration of Richard was
emulated and proliferated by Karen.
Anamnesis
Karen was well-aware that her mother preferred
Richard over her and she got used to this fact and
accepted it.
Agnes inability to nurture and show her affection
towards Karen led to her daughters own inability to
love herself.
Anamnesis
Karen was shocked when she saw a photo of her from
a 1973 concert in an unflattering outfit, and sought
assistance of a personal trainer who recommended a
diet low in calories but high in carbohydrates

Carole Curb: She lost around twenty pounds and she looked
fabulous. She weighed about 110 or so, and she looked
amazing...If shed been able to stop there then life would have
been beautiful. A lot of us girls in that era went through
moments of that. Everybody wanted to be Twiggy. Just about
everybody in the world has some sort of eating disorder--they
eat too much or eat too little. Karens just got carried away. She
couldnt stop.
Anamnesis
Friends and family began to notice extreme changes in
her eating habits--rearranged her food around her
plate to give the appearance of eating, or offered
samples of food to other people until there was none
left for her
Evelyn Wallace read an article on a girl who had
symptoms similar to Karen, and was alarmed. She
suggested to Agnes that Karen might need to see a
doctor.
Anamnesis
Karens weight dropped to near 90
lbs, and she started to look for ways
to disguise the weight loss (layering
clothing)
Karen had to purchase a new
wardrobe because of her new figure
o There was a collective gasp every
time she would take the stage--
some fans would approach her
managers with their concerns
about her body
Anamnesis
When she over dieted, there was a
rush of attention from her family,
something she never had before---
she liked it and so she continued even
if it was at the expense of her health
Checked into Cedars-Sinai Medical
Center and was ordered to eat, rest,
and refrain from working first of
many hospitalizations
Tour had to be cancelled
Anamnesis
Very early on Harold and Agnes found that Richard had this
extraordinary talent. He was a musical geniusno question about
thathe was and is, but from the point they realized he had this
talent, the whole familys energy was devoted to Richards career.
They moved coasts in order to give him more opportunities, and
everybody in the family was told, We have this unique talent in the
family, Richard is a genius, and We all have to sacrifice in order to
ensure that he gets the best opportunities to expose his talents. So at
a very early age Karen was told that her job in life was to support
Richard. That continued all the way up through their careers until
they became huge stars and beyond. If you were to go into the family
environment, where I was a lot, there was that same dynamic of
Everybodys here for Richard and Its really Richard whos the star.
Even when Karen had become the star, that dynamic still existed, and
she would fall in line.
Anamnesis

Frenda feels certain that Karen


was content not being the star
of the family. That wasnt what
made her ill, I am positive of
that, she says. It was just
being ignored. Thats different.
You dont have to be the star,
but you cant just be pushed to
the side and have no value.
Anamnesis
She bought apartments for business and personal use.
Its interesting to note that she was very particular
about the details of things. She also enjoys making
lots of lists.

Carole Curb recalls that Karens bedroom closet was a


fine example of her friends quest for perfectionism.
Karen was very, very meticulous, she says. The
clothes hangers were all the same and a quarter-inch
apart. The pants were all together, the blouses all
together. It was like an amazing boutique with
everything arranged in order.
Anamnesis
Olivia Newton-John described Karens place as: Her
place was immaculate. It was really a very beautiful
apartment with the most amazing view. I remember
thinking, Oh, shes so lucky. Shes got this amazing pad all
to herself. She was very clean, very tidy. Obviously she
had issues and probably could have had obsessive-
compulsive disorder.
Anamnesis
January 1976, The Carpenters got a new manager
from A&M records, Weintraub (who managed Elvis
Presley, Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra). At this point,
they were mapping out plans for longevity.
At this point, Karen felt that It was sickening, Karen
told People Weekly in a cover story for the magazine.
Suddenly it wasnt fun anymore.
Anamnesis
Karen declared I Need to Be in Love to be her
autobiographical anthem from first listen.
When he wrote the lyrics to that thing I was just
flabbergasted, she said.
The first verse of that says, The hardest thing Ive ever
done is keep believing / theres someone in this crazy
world for me / the way that people come and go
through temporary lives / my chance could come and I
might never know. I said, Oh my God, its so true.
Anamnesis
Drumming
Topbilling Shows
Richard being reintroduced so he seems more
significant

Ladies and gentlemen, said the emcee, Mr. Richard


Carpenter. As Terry Ellis had suggested a year before, Richard
opened the show alone, entering to a roll of timpani and an
orchestral overture in which he took the baton at center stage as
conductor.
Anamnesis
John Softly Adrian: She was a sad little girl,
basically. She couldnt seem to do anything for
herself or make any decisions. Everything was done
for her. She had her mom and dad and brother and
managers, and she was lost in this whole thing.
Anamnesis
She badly wanted children: In anticipation of starting
her own family, Karen mulled over names for her future
children. It was decided that a son would be named for
Richard but that everyone would call him Rick or Richie.
For a daughter she chose the name Kristi.
Anamnesis
Richard got addicted to Quaalades, had panic attacks,
and anxiety issues.
They started lip-synching, cancelling shows and
performances due to Richards substance abuse and
Karens physical condition.
Because Richard was incapacitated due to drug abuse,
Karen had to go and promote their Christmas album in
Europe alone . In London, she requested that Softly
Adrian, now a married man, accompany her while on
tour. Adrian was noted to have kept a safe distance
from her.
Anamnesis

The steep decline of their career prior to the


Christmas album made Karen very sad and she
took it very personally.
The success of this one (new Christmas
album) did little to cheer her up.
On Richards addiction: Karen would retort with comments about the
consequences of his addiction. To Richard, these were not welcome
observations from someone on a similar path of self-destruction. She
was so concerned, Frenda Franklin explains. You see, Karen was very
sensible about everybody else. In the case of Richard, there was nothing
to debate. It was terrible. She just couldnt wait any longer to get him
help. He wasnt happy with her, but she took the strong role and did
what she had to do as a sister.
Anamnesis
By this time, Richard was certain Karen was battling
the disorder brought to his familys attention by
Wallace three years earlier, and he confronted her
about her own well-being and deteriorating physical
appearance. What the hell are you talking about?
Going and doing a solo album?! Why dont you go and
check into something like this that is meant for
anorexics! Karen shut down. She adamantly denied
her own issues. No, she insisted, theres nothing
wrong with me. I dont have anorexia nervosa; I have
colitis. In her diary entry for January 24, 1979, Karen
wrote: Confrontation about album.
Anamnesis
In public, Karen refused to admit that her physical
state was due to anything more than exhaustion from
years of overwork.
In private, however, Karen took her illness seriously
enough to seek professional helpbut not without
Frenda Leffler by her side. - Due tothe lack of facilities
catering to cases of eating disorder, there was very
little that they could do. With Karens blessing, Frenda
had looked and researched all options for her health.
Anamnesis
1979: started working on a solo album, dedicated to
her brother who was then being treated for his
quaalude addiction
o Karen: "Im used to being part of a duo. Richards
like a third arm to me."
Lived with Phil and Itchie Ramone while working on
album
o Phil Ramone: "This girl loved to be fussy and get it
done right. Karen was fastidious, and I would tease
her ruthlessly."
o "Karen was twenty-nine, but she couldnt be a
woman who could think like a woman and express
herself."
Anamnesis
After a year of recording her solo album, Karen went back to Los
Angeles to have friends and family listen to it. This endeavor was
met with disapproval from close colleagues and friends,
particularly from her mother and brother.
o "Although Agnes was disappointed in Karen for attempting
an album without Richard, overall she put very little stock in
the solo endeavor."
o Evelyn Wallace: As far as Agnes was concerned, regardless
of how many records Karen would have made, to her mother
theyd never be as good as Richards."
o "Karens hopes and dreams for the solo album were
shattered. After an exhilarating year of creativity,
exploration, and hard work, the entire project was rejected
by those she loved and respected most in her family and
professional life."
Anamnesis
The album was shelved (and was not released until 1996)
o Phil Ramone: Once Richard didnt like the album, the traditional
response in that family was, Were not going to like it either.
Nobody would jump forward to say, Now wait a minute, this is
what Karen wanted to say, and we should accept that. And once
youve put it on the shelf, youve put it on the shelf.
Resorted to purging following this negative criticism
o She was resorting to bulimic practices, ridding her body of food
she would ingest to give the appearance she was eating healthily.
Spring 1980: Karen was found passed out in her bedroom in Phil's home
after having taken half a quaalude earlier in the evening. Itchie Ramone
also found laxatives in her bedroom.
o Phil Ramone: "She was absolutely destroyed by the rejection. You
have to understand she was soul searching. She had always felt
inferior. She was trying to grow up and start focusing on herself as
an artist, a person, a human, and a woman with needs, and it all
just went to pieces. It was like somebody just stepped on her and
just erased everything shed worked for.
Anamnesis
She couldnt keep food down, Frenda says. It was a
serious depression, no question. I knew she was severely
depressed when singing was the last thing on her mind.
When you have a passion for music like she had, and all at
once you cant even think about it, something is definitely
wrong. It was not about music anymore. It was not about
fun anymore. It was about trying to eat something.
Survival. --Frenda Leffler
Anamnesis
Late 1981, by Karens own admission: Richard, I realize
Im sick and I need help.
Cherry ONeill: I think she was looking for encouragement and
inspiration along her own journey toward wellness. Karen was
acknowledging her own eating disorders and was actively
seeking help.
In January 1982, moved to New York City with Itchie Ramone for
therapy sessions with Steven Levenkron, who specialized in
eating disorders.
Differential Diagnosis

Anorexia Nervosa
Substance use disorder (?)
Major Depressive Disorder (?)
OCPD (?)
DSM-5 Criteria:
Anorexia Nervosa
A. Restriction of energy intake relative to requirements, leading to a
significantly low body weight in the context of age, sex, developmental
trajectory, and physical health. Significantly low weight is defined as a
weight that is less than minimally normal or, for children and
adolescents, less than that minimally expected.

B. Intense fear of gaining weight or of becoming fat, or persistent behavior


that interferes with weight gain, even though at a significantly low
weight.

C. Disturbance in the way in which ones body weight or shape is


experienced, undue influence of body weight or shape on self-
evaluation, or persistent lack of recognition of the seriousness of the
current low body weight.
DSM-5 Criteria:
Anorexia Nervosa
Two Subtypes:
a.) Restricting type: During the last 3 months, the individual has not engaged
in recurrent episodes of binge eating or purging behavior (i.e., self-
induced vomiting or the misuse of laxatives, diuretics, or enemas). This
subtype describes presentations in which weight loss is accomplished
primarily through dieting, fasting, and/or excessive exercise.
b.) Binge-eating/purging type: During the last 3 months, the individual has
engaged in recurrent episodes of binge eating or purging behavior (i.e.,
self-induced vomiting or the misuse of laxatives, diuretics, or enemas).
DSM-5 Criteria:
Anorexia Nervosa
Specify if:
a.) In partial remission: After full criteria for anorexia nervosa were
previously met. Criterion A (low body weight) has not been met for a
sustained period, but either Criterion B (intense fear of gaining weight or
becoming fat or behavior that interferes with weight gain) or Criterion C
(disturbances in self-perception of weight and shape) is still met.
b.) In full remission: After full criteria for anorexia nervosa were previously
met, none of the criteria have been met for a sustained period of time.
DSM-5 Criteria:
Anorexia Nervosa
Specify current severity:

The minimum level of severity is based, for adults, on current body mass
index (BMI) (see below) or, for children and adolescents, on BMI percentile.
The ranges below are derived from World Health Organization categories for
thinness in adults; for children and adolescents, corresponding BMI
percentiles should be used. The level of severity may be increased to reflect
clinical symptoms, the degree of functional disability, and the need for
supervision.

Mild: BMI > 17kg/m^2


Moderate: BMI 16-16.99 kg/m^2
Severe: BMI 15-15.99 kg/m^2
Extreme: BMI < 15 kg/m^2 (Karens BMI was 14.2 in the year 1977)
Anorexia nervosa
Significant weight loss
Her face was all eyes. She looked like she
weighed somewhere between eighty and ninety pounds. As I look back
I can tell she was reaching out. Shed succeeded in everything else, and
she wanted a scientific formula for how she could get over this. I think
that she just couldnt quite pull it together. In retrospect, she was pleading
for help, which we all wish wed given more of. --Carole Curb

Shed put on so many layers of clothing because she didnt want people
to know she was that thin. My feeling always was that
she wanted to disappear. I certainly know thats not a medical diagnosis,
but that is what it seemed like. --Frenda Leffler
DSM-5 Criteria:
Substance Use Disorder
Problematic pattern of use that impairs functioning. Two or more symptoms within a
1-year period:

Failure to meet obligations


Repeated use in situations where it is physically dangerous
Repeated relationship problems
Continued use despite problems caused by the substance
Tolerance
Withdrawal
Substance taken for a longer time or in greater amounts than intended
Efforts to reduce or control use do not work
Much time spent trying to obtain the substance
Social, hobbies, or work activities given up or reduced
Continued use despite knowing problems caused by substance
Craving to use the substance is strong
Substance Use Disorder
Karen admitted to her psychotherapist that she was
taking 80-90 Dulcolax tablets a night and 10 pills of
thyroid medication

The siblings started lip-synching, cancelling shows and


performances due to Richards substance abuse and
Karens physical condition.

Spring 1980: Karen was found passed out in her


bedroom in Phil's home after having taken half a
quaalude earlier in the evening. Itchie Ramone also
found laxatives in her bedroom.
DSM-5 Criteria:
Major Depressive Disorder
A. Five or more of the following symptoms have been present during the
same 2-week period; at least one of the symptoms is either (1) depressed
mood or (2) loss of interest/pleasure.
1. Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day
2. Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all
activities most of the day
3. Significant weight loss or weight gain, or decrease or
increase in appetite
4. Insomnia or hypersomnia
5. Psychomotor agitation or retardation
6. Fatigue or loss of energy
DSM-5 Criteria:
Major Depressive Disorder
7. Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt
8. Diminished ability to think or concentrate or indecisiveness
9. Recurrent thoughts of death, recurrent suicidal ideation, or a suicide
attempt
DSM-5 Criteria:
Major Depressive Disorder
B. The symptoms cause clinically significant distress or impairment in
social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
C. The symptoms are not due to the direct physiological effects of a
substance or medical condition.
D. The occurrence is not better explained by schizoaffective disorder,
schizophrenia, delusional disorder, or other schizophrenia spectrum and
other psychotic disorders.
E. There has never been a manic or a hypomanic episode.
Major Depressive Disorder
"Not once had suicide entered my head. I was
depressed, yes, but my God, not enough to commit
suicide. I value life too much for that. No, the real alarm
was over my frightening loss of weight. At first I lost the
weight I intended to lose, but it went on even though I
began eating like mad to counteract it."

Karen experienced an episode of depression after her


severed relationship with Tom which worsened her
health. According to Itchie, Its failure was exactly the
same. Thats too much for any human being to take.
Any way you look at it, that disaster was the final nail.
DSM-5 Criteria:
Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder

A pervasive pattern of preoccupation with orderliness, perfectionism, and mental and


interpersonal control, at the expense of flexibility, openness, and efficiency, beginning by
early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by four (or more) of the
following:
1. Is preoccupied with details, rules, lists, order, organization, or schedules to the extent that
the major point of the activity is lost.
2. Shows perfectionism that interferes with task completion (e.g., is unable to complete a
project because his or her own overly strict standards are not met).
3. Is excessively devoted to work and productivity to the exclusion of leisure activities and
friendships (not accounted for by obvious economic necessity).
4. Is overconscientious, scrupulous, and inflexible about matters of morality, ethics, or values (not
accounted for by cultural or religious identification).
DSM-5 Criteria:
Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder

5. Is unable to discard worn-out or worthless objects even when they have no


sentimental value.
6. Is reluctant to delegate tasks or to work with others unless they submit to
exactly his or her way of doing things.
7. Adopts a miserly spending style toward both self and others; money is
viewed as something to be hoarded for future catastrophes.
8. Shows rigidity and stubbornness.
Bottomline: Not enough to diagnose (only 2 criteria met)
Her perfectionism might be better explained as features of anorexia
Obsessive Compulsive
Pe r s o n a l i t y D i s o r d e r
Karen enjoyed making tons of lists. Karen: My mind
starts going, This has gotta be done, thats gotta be
done, youve gotta call this.
Karen was very, very meticulous, she says. The
clothes hangers were all the same and a quarter-inch
apart. The pants were all together, the blouses all
together. It was like an amazing boutique with
everything arranged in order.
Her place was immaculate... She was very clean, very
tidy. Obviously she had issues and probably could
have had obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Anorexia nervosa
Loss of control?

Robert Hoerburger, 1996: If anorexia has classically been


defined as a young womans struggle for control, then
Karen was a prime candidate, for the two things she
valued the most in the world--her voice and her mothers
love--were exclusively the property of Richard. At least
she would control the size of her own body.

Since Karen has no semblance of control with these


aspects of her life, she compensates by being overly
controlling in other aspects, such as her career, as well as
her weight. I may not be in control of anything else, but
I am in control of my body.
Anorexia nervosa
Perfectionism?
Perfectionism higher in anorexics, even after
treatment.
Karen was a perfectionist as far as her performances
were concerned, and she set the bar very high for
herself.
her immaculate apartment as described earlier by
Olivia Newton-John
her habit of making lists for everything
her hyperorganized closet (also mentioned earlier)

Karens perfectionism may be a result of her


compensatory behaviors - being overly controlling
because of a perceived lack of control.
Anorexia nervosa
Starved of attention?

Karens low self-esteem and high negative affect may


be due to her ambivalent relationship with her
mother, as well as her mothers favoritism with her
brother Richard.
Starved of her mothers love and attention, Karen
would attempt to get her mothers by having the
perfect body.
Anorexia nervosa
Role of Media

Pressure in keeping a slim figure that fits the


standards of media, as well as criticism from others
also contribute to the desire to lose weight in order to
become ideal and perfect.
Control Issues Mommy Issues
Mother and Favoritism of
brother were too Media + Criticism Richard
controlling from others Ambivalent
relationship

Low self-esteem
Crave attention
Perfectionism from mother
Attempt to be
Perfect Body -
overly controlling
preoccupation
due to perceived Attempt to grab
with weight and
lack of control mothers attention
figure

Restrict food intake


Purging through the
use of
laxatives/ipecac
Other weight loss
activities
Make it simple to last your
whole life long. Dont worry
that its not enough for
anyone else to hear. Just
sing, sing a song.
References
DSM-5 Manual
Schmidt, R. L. (2010). Little girl blue: The life of Karen Carpenter. Chicago, Illinois,
USA: Chicago Review Press, Inc.
http://judyrodman.com/uploaded_images/The-Singing-Bee-795902.JPG
rockindownthehighway.blogspot.com/2008/03/rockin-with-richard-and-karen-
carpenter.html