New Biography Sheds Light on Life of Karen Carpenter

INSIDE EDITION speaks to Randy Schmidt, author of a new biography that sheds light on the short, tragic life of Karen Carpenter.

When Karen Carpenter sang, she put her heart into it. But her heart stopped beating after the troubled singer literally starved herself to death at the age of 32.

That was twenty-seven years ago, but the mellow music of the Carpenters lives on. Now, a new biography called Little Girl Blue is shedding light on the short, tragic life of Karen Carpenter.

"Karen Carpenter had sixteen consecutive top twenty hits. But was she ever really happy?" INSIDE EDITION's Megan Alexander asks author Randy Schmidt.

"I think Karen Carpenter had moments of happiness and I think she did the best with some of the things that she was dealt," says Schmidt.

According Schmidt, one of those things was a domineering mother who always made Karen feel second-best to her brother, Richard.

"She was considered by her mother to be Richard's backup and that was something she really never escaped," he says.

According to Schmidt's book, when Karen wanted to break off her engagement to real estate developer Tom Burris her mother wouldn't let her, because the invitations had already gone out!

The marriage barely lasted a year. Karen continued to keep up a brave front as the Carpenters went on to sell a staggering one hundred million records worldwide.

But as time passed, it became clear Karen was suffering from a then little-known eating disorder called anorexia nervosa.

Schmidt says, "Around the end of 1981, Karen finally admitted that she was having trouble with an eating disorder. So by the time Karen committed to seeking therapy, it was really too late."

Karen died on February 4, 1983. She weighed 80 pounds. Suddenly, the sorrow in her songs became all too real.

"Karen's voice had so much soul in it. And I think she bared that soul in her music, even though she wasn't able to do so in real life," Schmidt says.

Richard Carpenter is married and is the father of five. Karen Carpenter's haunting voice is said to have influenced the works of modern stars like Madonna and Shania Twain.