The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), The Razor's Edge (1946), All About Eve (1950) and The Ten Commandments (1956).
Early lifeBaxter was born in Michigan City, Indiana to Kenneth Stuart Baxter and Catherine Wright; her maternal grandfather was the architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Baxter's father was a prominent executive with the Seagrams Distillery Co. and she was raised in New York City in a well-to-do home, and attended the prestigious Brearley School. At age 10, Baxter attended a Broadway play starring Helen Hayes, and was so impressed that she declared to her family that she wanted to become an actress. By the age of 13, she had appeared on Broadway. During this period, Baxter learned her acting craft as a student of the famed teacher Maria Ouspenskaya.
CareerRebecca, losing to Joan Fontaine because director Alfred Hitchcock considered her too young for the role, but she soon secured a seven-year contract with 20th Century Fox. Her first movie role was in 20 Mule Team in 1940. She was chosen by director Orson Welles to appear in The Magnificent Ambersons (1942). Baxter co-starred with Tyrone Power and Gene Tierney in 1946's The Razor's Edge, for which she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Baxter later recounted that The Razor's Edge contained her only great performance which was a hospital scene where the character, Sophie, "loses her husband, child and everything else". She said she relived the death of her brother, who had died at age three.
In 1950, she was chosen to co-star in All About Eve, largely because of a resemblance to Claudette Colbert, who had initially been chosen to co-star in the film; the original idea being to have her character gradually come to visually mirror Colbert's over the course of the film. Baxter received a nomination for Best Actress for the title role of Eve Harrington. She said she modeled the role on a bitchy understudy she had for her debut performance in the Broadway play Seen But Not Heard at the age of thirteen and who had threatened to "finish her off". Through the 1950s she continued to act on stage. According to a program from the production, Baxter appeared on Broadway in 1953 opposite Tyrone Power in Charles Laughton's John Brown's Body, a play based upon the narrative poem by Stephen Vincent Benét (though the Internet Broadway Database states that Power's co-star was Judith Anderson). In 1953 Baxter contracted a two picture deal for Warner Brothers. Her first was opposite Montgomery Clift in Alfred Hitchcock's I Confess; the second was the whodunit The Blue Gardenia as a woman accused of murder.
Egyptian Queen Nefertiri opposite Charlton Heston's portrayal of Moses in Cecil B. DeMille's award winning The Ten Commandments (1956).
Baxter appeared regularly on television in the 1960s. She did a stint as one of the What's My Line? "Mystery Guests" on the popular Sunday night CBS-TV quiz program. She also starred as guest villain "Zelda the Great" in two episodes of the superhero show Batman. She appeared as another villain, "Olga, Queen of the Cossacks," opposite Vincent Price's "Egghead" in three episodes of the show's third season. She also played an old flame of Raymond Burr on his crime series Ironside.
Baxter returned to Broadway during the 1970s in Applause, the musical version of All About Eve, but this time in the "Margo Channing" role played by Bette Davis in the film. (She was replacing Lauren Bacall, who won a Tony Award in the role.)
In the 1970s, Baxter was a frequent guest and stand-in host on The Mike Douglas Show, since Baxter and host Mike Douglas were friends. She portrayed a murderous film star on an episode of Columbo, called "Requiem for a Fallen Star". In 1983, Baxter starred in the television series Hotel, replacing Bette Davis after Davis became ill.
Baxter has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6741 Hollywood Blvd.
Personal lifeIn 1946, Baxter married actor John Hodiak. They had a daughter, Katrina, born 1951, and divorced in 1953, which she later blamed on herself.
In 1960, Baxter married her second husband, Randolph Galt. Galt was the American owner of a neighboring cattle station near Sydney, Australia where she was filming Summer of the Seventeenth Doll. She left Hollywood with Katrina to live with him on a remote 37,000 acre cattle station he bought 180 miles north of Sydney called Giro (pronounced Ghee-ro). During this time, they had two daughters, Melissa (b. 1962) and Maginel (b. 1964). After the birth of Maginel, back in California, Galt suddenly announced they were moving to an 11,000 acre ranch south of Grants New Mexico. They then moved to Hawaii before settling back in Brentwood, Los Angeles, California. Melissa Galt became an interior designer, and Maginel became a Roman Catholic nun.
Baxter married again, in 1977 to David Klee, a prominent stockbroker. It was a brief marriage; Klee died unexpectedly from illness. The newlywed couple had purchased a sprawling property in Easton, Connecticut which they extensively remodeled, however, Klee did not live to see the renovations completed. Aspects of the house were redesigned to be architecturally reminiscent of Frank Lloyd Wright's 'Prairie School Architecture. The living-room fireplace was remodeled to resemble the famous stone structure in the living room of her grandfather's masterpiece, Fallingwater. Vaulted ceilings were lowered to embrace Wright's essential design protocol against soaring ceilings. Baxter never remarried. Although she maintained a residence in West Hollywood, Baxter considered her Connecticut home to be her primary residence. Baxter was an active benefactor of The Connecticut Early Music Society.
Baxter was a long time friend of celebrated costume designer Edith Head, whom she first met on the set of The Ten Commandments. Head appeared with Baxter in a cameo role in Requiem For A Falling Star, a 1973 Columbo episode. Upon Head's death in 1981, Melissa Galt, who was also a goddaughter of Head,was bequeathed Head's jewelry collection.
DeathBaxter suffered a brain aneurysm on December 4, 1985, while hailing a taxi on Madison Avenue in New York City. She died 8 days later at Lenox Hill hospital on December 12, aged 62.
Baxter is buried on the estate of Frank Lloyd Wright at Lloyd Jones Cemetery in Spring Green, Wisconsin. She was survived by her three daughters.