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The Karen Carpenter Story (1989)

Story of the meteoric rise and sudden fall of Karen Carpenter, who became a famous singer before battling anorexia and bulimia.


Joseph Sargent, Richard Carpenter (uncredited)


Barry Morrow
Nominated for 1 Primetime Emmy. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Cynthia Gibb ... Karen Carpenter
Mitchell Anderson ... Richard Carpenter
Peter Michael Goetz ... Harold Carpenter
Michael McGuire ... Sherwin Bash
Lise Hilboldt ... Lucy
Kip Gilman ... David Lattimer (as Kenneth David Gilman)
Richard Minchenberg
Scott Burkholder ... Ted
Louise Fletcher ... Agnes Carpenter
John Patrick Reger John Patrick Reger ... Bob Knight
Doug MacHugh ... Dr. Lazwell
William Tucker William Tucker ... Peter Howard
Henry Crowell Jr. Henry Crowell Jr. ... Denny
Josh Cruze ... Herb Alpert
Carrie Mitchum Carrie Mitchum ... Randy Bash


Story of the meteoric rise and sudden fall of Karen Carpenter, who became a famous singer before battling anorexia and bulimia.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Biography | Drama | Music


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Release Date:

1 January 1989 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A História de Karen Carpenter See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Much of Cynthia Gibb's wardrobe was made up of Karen Carpenter's actual clothes, which her family had kept. At the same height, and with roughly the same (pre-anorexic) figure, the clothes fit, and wearing them helped Gibb get into character. See more »


Karen Carpenter's husband was named Tom Burris, not Bob Knight. See more »


Richard Carpenter: Mom! She's sung the same song all the way across the country, make her stop!
See more »


Version of Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story (1988) See more »


Written by Roger Nichols and Dean Pitchford
Performed by The Carpenters
See more »

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User Reviews

cursory sketch of the Carpenters' career
2 September 2016 | by sandrastreeterSee all my reviews

Sadly, I didn't appreciate the Carprenters until after Karen's death--young, stupid, inexperienced in romantic relationships, I guess, so lacking in taste! Also, hadn't had the classical vocal training I've since accrued, so couldn't have remarked earlier on what an exquisite voice we had the privilege to know. As a blind viewer, I can't, obviously, comment on the visuals, but Gibb was, in terms of speaking voice, remarkably similar to Karen (check out YouTube interviews)--this from someone who has "made a career" out of discerning between voices--Cynthia was only slightly higher, and had a very similar timbre. I would love to either read the screen play, or find an audio-described version that would catch me up on the visual aspects. I will say that a director/producer is only as good as the material provided--the family kept a lot of details hidden (typical of eating-disorder families not in recovery, especially then), and so, we don't have a chance for an accurate picture, and ironically, the fact that it skims over much or the inward aspects of anorexia is similar to how it is experienced until recovery: only the surface aspects are evident, until the person gets into therapy and uncovers what the illness is saying. And, back then, we knew so little about anorexia, so I don't find much fault in how it was presented here--we only had two hours (less, accounting for the time used up by commercials). If you go online, you can find some DVDs of the movie. I do hope that a more thorough and lengthier biopic will emerge after Richard has passed (preferably, before--if he can come to acknowledge that what their family has gone through is not shameful or terribly unique and deserves to be told truthfully, to assist others so they won't meet the same fate as his sister).

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