Karen Anne Carpenter (March 2, 1950 – February 4, 1983) was an American singer and drummer. She and her brother, Richard, formed the 1970s duo The Carpenters. She was a drummer of exceptional skill, but she is best remembered for her vocal performances. She suffered from anorexia nervosa, an eating disorder little-known at the time, and died at the age of 32 from heart failure, later attributed to complications related to her illness.
Carpenter was born in New Haven, Connecticut, to Agnes Reuwer Tatum and Harold Bertram Carpenter. When she was young, she enjoyed playing baseball with other children on the street. On the TV program, This Is Your Life, Carpenter stated that she liked pitching. In the early 1970s, she went on to play as the pitcher on the Carpenters' official softball team. Karen's brother, Richard, had developed an interest in music at an early age, becoming a piano prodigy. Karen showed less interest in music as a young child. The family moved in June 1963 to the Los Angeles suburb of Downey.
When Karen entered Downey High School, she joined the school band. The conductor (who had previously taught her older brother) gave her the glockenspiel, an instrument she disliked. After admiring the performance of a friend named Frankie Chavez, she asked the conductor if she could play the drums instead. She and Richard made their first recordings in 1965 and 1966. The following year, Karen began dieting. Under a doctor's guidance Karen, who stood 5'5" and weighed 145 pounds, went on the Stillman Diet. She rigorously ate lean foods, drank 8 glasses of water a day, and avoided fatty foods. By September 1975, Karen's weight dropped to 91 pounds.