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Content note: This program contains discussions of eating disorders.

She was the first in a long line of celebrities to suffer from an eating disorder during an era when the vastly misunderstood phenomenon brought shame and public humiliation.

For the first time, we hear Karen Carpenter’s personal struggle in her own voice through never-before-released recordings—and through the legendary voices of those who knew her and were inspired by her music.

As the #1 American musical act of the 1970s, the Carpenters were on “Top of the World,” producing a string of pop masterpieces, including “Close to You,” “We’ve Only Just Begun,” and “Rainy Days and Mondays.” But behind closed doors, Karen’s quest for perfection resulted in low self-esteem, a disheartening love life, and a public battle with anorexia nervosa, which resulted in her untimely death at the age of only 32.

Karen Carpenter: Starving for Perfection is a captivating, revealing, and unvarnished documentary providing astounding new insight into the singer’s tragically short life and enduring musical legacy.


Karen Carpenter: Starving For Perfection is an archival buffet of the Carpenters, their family, performances, appearances, and work sprinkled with interviews from several friends who are all celebrated writers, musicians, and artists.” - Film Threat

“Gives the artist her due . . . . A thoughtful and necessarily downbeat documentary that celebrates Carpenter’s triumphs while asking how it all could have been avoided.” - Edmonton Journal

“[This] moving and cautionary documentary . . . captures an artist whose legacy was romantic, heartbreaking and cruelly brief.” - Prescott (AZ) News

“Takes filmgoers deep into Karen’s story in ways her life has not been discussed before. It brings fresh new perspectives and insights about her personal struggle told in her own voice through never-before released recordings and through the voices of those who knew her.” - Los Angeles Blade

“Fills the heart and ears with her highly personal form of timeless beauty and wonder. It reminds us that, whatever your musical taste or hipness code, hers was one of the great pop voices of all time.” - Santa Barbara (CA) Independent

  • Year
  • Runtime
    99 minutes
  • Language
  • Country
    United States
  • Subtitle Language
    English, Spanish
  • Awards
    Winner Best Documentary - California Music Video and Film Awards | Audience Winner Best Documentary - Sonoma International Film Festival | Jury Winner Best Documentary - Edmonton International Film Festival | Audience Winner Best Documentary - Prescott Film Festival
  • Social Media
  • Director
    Randy Martin
  • Screenwriter
    Randy Schmidt
  • Producer
    Randy Schmidt, Brad Osborne
  • Executive Producer
    Carnie Wilson, Andy Streitfeld
  • Cast
    Karen Carpenter, Richard Carpenter, Olivia Newton-John, Carnie Wilson, Cherry Boone O'Neill, Belinda Carlisle, Bob James, Carol Burnett, Cubby O'Brien, Tom Nolan, Suzanne Somers, Randy Schmidt, Mike Curb, Maria Galeazzi, Louis Virtel, Kristin Chenoweth, Karen Tongson, Frankie Chavez, Doug Haverty, Cynthia Gibb, Barry Morrow
  • Cinematographer
    Osman Tello
  • Editor
    Paul Ellison, Brad Osborne, Chuck Brown