b. 7 May 1923, Michigan City, Indiana, USA, d. 12 December 1985, New York City, New York, USA. Born into an artistic family, Baxter was educated in New York and studied with actress Maria Ouspenskaya. At the age of 13 she appeared on Broadway in Seen But Not Heard. After making other stage appearances she was spotted by a Hollywood talent scout, making her debut in 1940 in the undistinguished 20 Mule Team. Thereafter she made numerous films, several of them significant productions in which her roles were often important. These films include The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), The Sullivans (1944), A Royal Scandal (1945), Smoky (1946), The Razor’s Edge (1946, which brought her an Oscar as Best Supporting Actress), Blaze Of Noon (1947), Homecoming (1948), All About Eve (1950, for which she was nominated for an Oscar), The Blue Gardenia (1953), The Spoilers (1955), The Ten Commandments (1956), Chase A Crooked Shadow (1957) and Summer Of The Seventeenth Doll (1959, US title: Season Of Passion). The latter, in which she co-starred with John Mills, Ernest Borgnine and Angela Lansbury, was set and made in Australia and although Baxter continued to make films in the 60s, she spent several years living with her second husband on a remote farmstead in the Australian outback.
Among Baxter’s 60s films were Walk On The Wild Side (1962) and The Busy Body (1967). She began the 70s with the films Fool’s Parade and The Late Liz (both 1971) but then returned to the theatre in the Broadway production of Applause (1971), which was based upon the filmAll About Eve in which she had appeared with Bette Davis two decades earlier. Taking over from Lauren Bacall in the role of Margo Channing (played in the film by Davis), Baxter was acclaimed by critics and audiences alike. Later, she made more films, including the television production Little Mo (1978) and Jane Austen In Manhattan (1980). Katrina Hodiak, Baxter’s daughter to her first husband, film actor John Hodiak, appeared in a minor role in the latter. In 1983, Baxter replaced Davis in television’s Hotel, a role she continued to play for almost two years until her early death from a stroke.