Did people realize she had an eating disorder?
Was it even generally known amongst the general public what "anorexia" or "bulimia" were back then?
I see videos of her back then and I'm surprised that people weren't more shocked by her emaciated appearance on TV/interviews/concerts/etc. Yes, I realize people were generally thinner in the '70s, but she was Auschwitz skeletal.
Exhibit A of her sickly appearance on TV at URL link below.
I was very young at the time, but I remember what a big story Karen Carpenter's death was. Yes, people were shocked. My boomer parents and their friends talked about it for weeks afterwards.
Yes, shocked. Anorexia wasn't really talked about the way it is now. Nowadays, eating disorders are a big topic, even used as a joking term about someone's eating (or not eating) habits.
[quote]Did people realize she had an eating disorder?
Most people didn't even know what an eating disorder was. Things like that weren't talked about. Karen Carpenter's death changed that.
Yes, it was a shock. She was young and appeared healthy. Thin, but healthy. Her thinness wasn't talked about the way fatness was with someone like Mama Cass. It wasn't notable. Thin is the ideal and the thinking then was "you can never be too rich or too thin". So being very thin was not seen as evidence of a psychological disorder.
People were shocked, even though many people knew she had had an eating disorder. After her death people became more aware of the long-term consequences of anorexia, such as the coronary issues that killed Carpenter.
I don't think there was even a name invented for the disease back then.
People knew she had an eating disorder, but the news media had been reporting that she was gaining weight and on the way to recovery. THAT's why people were so shocked.
Few people knew then that gaining weight after being severely undernourished is hard on the heart -- and that was another thing that shocked people: she died of heart failure, even though she was recovering from the anorexia.
The Carpenters were no longer the hitmakers they had been by 1983. There was no social media like now, where someone's appearance is instantly broadcast around the world.
I remembered a People magazine article covering her fairytale wedding. Then the announcement of a divorce not long after.
Then she was dead. I heard the news on the radio while driving, and I remember thinking "suicide".
Yes there was, R6. But rewrite history if that makes you happy.
R9 must be really old if he lived through it. I will defer to my feminine elder on this one.
R6, I first heard the word "anorexia" in 1974, when a friend's girlfriend ended up in the hospital with it while visiting us up at school.
So Karen's eating disorder was public knowledge before she died? I thought it didn't come out until after her death. Weren't the Carpenters sort of out of the public eye for several years before Karen died?
It was shocking since she lived just around the corner from our sandwich shop.
"And no one's gettin' fat 'cept Mama Cass."
If only Mama Cass and Karen Carpenter had shared that sandwich . . .
[quote]So Karen's eating disorder was public knowledge before she died?
No, it wasn't.
I was 16 when Karen died and the Carpenters had been my childhood favorite band, though I'd moved on to new wave indie rock by that time, as you do. I remember hearing the news listening to the radio in my room. It was a shock to me, but I hadn't followed them for years and didn't know what was going on in her life.
Does this shroud make me look fat?
I'm with R5 and R7. Based on pictures of her, people knew there was an ongoing problem. Her sudden death was a shock.
She was our friend.
The Starving Darfourians
It was public knowledge she wasn't well, but eating disorders were not really discussed in those days and the general public knew little about it.
Her death was a shock and definitely brought eating disorders into public awareness.
I was 7 and I remember adults making jokes and references to cat food and then them looking guilty and saying I was too young. Did she eat cat food or something? That's what my little kid mind came up with. You don't wanna know what I thought about guerrilla warfare in Cambodia
Eating disorders were very little understood back then. They was basically thought of as extreme dieting, if people even knew about them at all. When Karen died and the public found out that these disorders can actually kill you, it was shocking.
I thought it was ironic that she died in her closet. Her mother found her on the floor there.
[quote][R9] must be really old if he lived through it.
She died 30 years ago. Is 30 "really old" to you??
Anyone who is/was a fan should visit the Richard and Karen Carpenter Performing Arts Center at Cal State-Long Beach. There's a lot of Carpenter memorabilia (gold records, Karen's drums, etc.) in the lobby.
i saw the movie with cynthia gibb!!
Wow, to see Karen's drums before I die!
What was Karen Carpenter's favorite dessert?
A tray of ice cubes.
What did Karen Carpenter say after she had a breath mint?
"Excuse me, I have to go to the bathroom."
I met my first bulemic in or around 1974. A friend of mine was in medical school at the time and I asked her whether she had ever heard of anything like this. She said no.
I will always remember being in the junior high library looking at the People magazine with the cover about Karen Carpenter dying when a cross-eyed girl in my class walked in and saw (sort of) the cover and shrieked "Linda Lavin died?!?!?"
I think the most shocking thing was how the newspapers and magazines kept obliquely referring to "related issues" when she died and it was blamed on a heart problem. And then the Enquirer or one of the other tabloids wrote an article about how she gone to Mexico and had an elective colostomy to shorten her digestive tract and keep her "private area" clean and nice. Like many anorexics she had an absolute need for control and hated anything messy, so she removed her bottom from anything that would be "disgusting." Crazy.
I was treated for anorexia around the same time period, although I was younger than KC at the time. It was the Dark Ages of eating disorders and very little was known, thought to be a disease of upperclass young girls. There was one book out, Eating Disorders by Dr. Hilde Bruch, and the term bulimarexia (later shortened to bulimia) was several years from being coined. There were no eating disorder units. Treatment was primitive tube feeding in a generalized psych ward. For me, anyway.
r34 that never happened.
I was very young when Karen died...we were all in shock.
Some of the "thinspirational" quotes on this pic speak of the same insanity that R34 mentions:
"The thinner is the winner"
"If it tastes good, it's trying to kill you"
"An imperfect body reflects an imperfect person"
"It is always better to fade away into nothingness than to have a cheeseburger clogging your arteries"
"I don't care if it hurts, I want to have control, I want a perfect body, I want a perfect soul" [lyrics from Radiohead's "Creep"]
I was shocked, too. I picked up People magazine in the store to read about it. (No internet!)
In all fairness, a fading pop singer dying of an anorexic heart attack at 32 would be pretty shocking even today.
I wish she'd lived long enough to experience the new popularity of the Great American Songbook. I'd have loved to hear her take on some of the classics with an album of standards like the ones put out by Toni Tennille, Linda Ronstadt, et. al.
Anorexia had started to become widely known in the 70s. Carpenter had become a less public, less visible figure by the time of her death, so her weight was that widely observed by the public. Carpenter had stage fright and preferred to do studio work toward the end. She was respected for her voice in the music business but didn't have hit albums.
People were really shocked when she died. There were rumors of anorexia (she looked like a skeleton) but nobody knew it was that bad. Nobody knew Richard was a drug addict, either. The Carpenters were supposed to be the epitome of squeaky-clean wholesomeness and stability. "American youth at its finest", Richard Nixon called them. But they were both as fucked up as any junkie rock star.
[quote][R34] that never happened.
Yeah, I think most of us know that already.
SO sorry. Apparently the Tattler got it wrong.
But the autopsy report is interesting, anyway.
Bette Midler used to make fun of Karen Carpenter in her stage shows in the 70s and was quite vicious about her. Of course, Bette had no idea about Karen's personal demons at the time. After Karen's death, Bette felt very sorry and publicly apologized to Richard and the Carpenter family and said how sorry she was and how she regretted ever making fun of Karen. I thought that was pretty big of her.
That wasn't the only thing that was big about Bette, r53. Anything she said about me really just rolled off my back because I knew they were the mentally deranged ravings that you can expect to hear from a great big fat person.
What did Bette say? At least Joan Rivers had the courtesy to wait until Karen died.
Karen presented Bette with her Grammy for Best New Artist.