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FLICKS: Fabulous Baker girls

Posted on 21 November 2012 by LeslieM

By Dave Montalbano


While filming two of her classic westerns, The Big Country and How the West was Won, actress Carroll Baker wrote about her harrowing experiences driving a wagon buckboard with two teams of energetic horses. These experiences prepared her for her recent battles with Hurricane Sandy.

“After the hurricane and not having access to food and water, I never thought I would be so happy to be on an airplane!” said Carroll.

Her daughter, Blanche, added, “It was only after takeoff that we could see an overview of how bad it was in New York.”

Arriving in Ft. Lauderdale with just the clothes on their backs, Carroll and Blanche went shopping on Las Olas before their weekend of personal appearances for the Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival (FLIFF). While mom was receiving the Lifetime achievement award, daughter, also an actress, screened two movies: Hypothermia and Ruth Madoff occupies Wall Street.

Both have worked with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Blanche in Deal and Carroll in Kindergarten Cop. Carroll compared actors from the Golden Age of Hollywood with today’s crop.

“They were not as casual as today’s actors. They had perfect manners and took the craft seriously. When shooting Kindergarten Cop, I had to get hit with a bat. I had padding on my stomach … somebody kept checking and adjusting the back. Eventually, I felt hands on my bottom and I turned around … it was Arnold! Gable and Stewart would never do or consider a thing like that.”

In her autobiography “Baby Doll,” Carroll wrote about her “second nervous breakdown” in the late 1960s and talked about her recovery.

“I got out of the pressure of Hollywood. I wanted to get the children out of Beverly Hills before the age of 8. I could see the drugs in the schools already. I was a single mom. I moved to Rome, which saved me,” she said.

An adolescent at the time, Blanche admitted that, “It was a bit of a culture shock, moving to and from Italy. Now knowing what I know, she put us first.”

Ten years later, Blanche earned an Emmy Award for the miniseries, Holocaust, costarring Meryl Streep.

The strongest memories I will remember from FLIFF will be the bond I witnessed with Bailee Madison, Steven Bauer and Blanche Baker with their Moms on the Red Carpet. Happy Thanksgiving!

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