Karen Carpenter, a singer who long suffered under the burden of the expectations that came with pop stardom, died on February 4, 1983, succumbing to heart failure brought on by her long, unpublicized struggle with anorexia.
Carpenter had a fixation with her weight from her earliest days performing with her brother, Richard, in and around their hometown of Downey, California. As a teenager, she dropped at least 25 pounds on a popular and severe weight-loss program known as “the Water Diet,” so that by the time she and Richard burst on the pop scene with their smash hit “Close To You” in the summer of 1970, she was a thin but healthy 20-year-old carrying 120 lbs. on a 5′ 5″ frame. She maintained that weight through the early years of the Carpenters’ success, yet it appears that Karen’s insecurities about her appearance only grew, even as she was becoming one of the biggest pop stars of her era.
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