Cynthia Gibb stars as Karen Carpenter


The Karen Carpenter Story is a TV movie that aired on CBS on January 1, 1989. It was directed by Joseph Sargent. Richard Carpenter served as a producer for the film as well as the musical score. It was very popular in the ratings; it was the highest-rated two-hour TV movie of the year and the third highest rated such program on any network during the 1980s.

As the real-life Carpenters singing group is heard on the sound track, Cynthia Gibb stars as Karen Carpenter, with Mitchell Anderson costarring as her brother Richard.  Karen's rise to the top is dutifully detailed, while Richard's brief flirtation with drug addiction is handled with discretion. The film takes a tragic turn when Karen's anorexia nervosa overcomes her ability to function, and finally kills her.

The TV movie tells the story of the rise and fall of the brother-and-sister pop music duo, The Carpenters. The story begins with the collapse of Karen Carpenter in the closet of her parents' home in Downey, California, on February 4, 1983. She is rushed to the hospital by paramedics, and as the EMT is placing an oxygen mask over her face, "Rainy Days And Mondays", recorded by the Carpenters on their self-titled album, is playing.

The scene shifts to teenage Karen Carpenter singing as she roller skates on the day the family moved into their home in Downey, (previously they had resided in New Haven, Connecticut). The film then shows the highs and lows of Karen's life from the 1960s to 1983. The film improbably attempts to end on a happy note, with Karen smiling after her mother says "I love you." The details about her subsequent death are superimposed on the screen before the closing credits.

The Karen Carpenter Story was a ratings winner, encouraging other less tasteful producers to overload the market with bad to indifferent made-for-TV life stories. The film was co-produced by the real Richard Carpenter, who has made the telling of his sister's story something of a lifetime mission.

Karen Carpenter Story
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