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home Entertainment Thomas James Burris and Karen Carpenter — Life Together Before the Singer's Untimely Death in 1983

Thomas James Burris and Karen Carpenter — Life Together Before the Singer's Untimely Death in 1983

Published Tue Jan 28 2020 By Sea
Thomas James Burris and Karen Carpenter — Life Together Before the Singer's Untimely Death in 1983

Karen Carpenter was a coveted singer back in the day; however, short her time in the world was. While the band 'The Carpenters' with brother Richard Carpenter took off quite well, she failed as a solo singer in the late '70s. But there were more pressing issues, particularly her weight loss, and sickness.

Many things happen between the singer and the real estate developer before, during, and after their time together. Another thing that was in between was her relationship with her husband, Thomas James Burris. It was a fairytale at first but later turned out to be tumultuous. 

Karen Carpenter- Cause Behind Her Demise

Karen Carpenter's cause of death was heart failure due to complications from anorexia nervosa. She died on February 4, 1983, at the age of 32. 

An autopsy ruled out drugs or a medication overdose, describing her death as "emetine cardiotoxicity due to or as a consequence of anorexia nervosa". Her death raised awareness of eating disorders and the associated dangers, leading to increased attention and research into these conditions.

Karen Had No Intention of Marrying 

There was a moment when Karen Carpenter declared in early interviews, "As long as we're on the road most of the time, I will never marry." But while seeking independence, she was not gung-ho about women not having to cook for their husbands. If she got married, she said she would do those things.

Karen Carpenter and her brother Richard Carpenter.
'The Carpenters' comprised Karen and her brother, Richard.
Source: Pinterest

Despite declaring it was difficult for her to find someone to date because of her career, Carpenter went on to date several notable individuals, the likes of Mike Curb, Tony Danza, Terry Ellis, Mark Harmon, Steve Martin, and Alan Osmond. She was not that revolting, though. She admitted to Olivia Newton-John about wanting a happy marriage and family, which would be an issue during her time with Burris.

Meanwhile, Burris was already once a married man before he met Carpenter. He was divorced with an 18-year-old son when he met her at a dinner in 'Chic Ma Maison' restaurant in 1980. He was nine years older than her.

Karen Carpenter Wanted to Call Off the Wedding | Know The Reason 

The romance between Karen Carpenter and Thomas Burris shot faster than any normal relationship. They started dating immediately after meeting, and two months after that, Burris told her he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her. Yes, he proposed.

Thomas James Burris and his wife Karen Carpenter.
It was a whirlwind of romance between Karen Carpenter and Thomas James Burris.
Source: Greening

How did this particular relationship skyrocket so quickly? The then-39-year-old Tom was the ideal man she met up to the limit a man could be for her. He fulfilled most of her requirements as a potential husband. 

"He was very attractive, very nice, and he seemed very generous," said Carole Curb.

The couple initially planned to wait for a year after the engagement so that they could take some time before the marriage. But in July 1980, they announced their plans to get married in August of that year. It was particularly alarming for her friends, as "that's when everybody's antennas went up."

Learn more: The truth behind the breakup of 'The Beatles'

Thomas Confessed He Had a Vasectomy Before They Met

By the time they were married on August 31, 1980, in the Crystal Room of the Beverly Hills Hotel, Carpenter was already five years into her struggle with anorexia and bulimia nervosa. Richard also overcame his Quaalude addiction. She performed her new song 'Because We're in Love' at the wedding, which was released later in 1981.

KAREN CARPENTER with Richard Carpenter and Thomas Barris after the wedding.
Despite everything, Karen tried a fake smile whenever she was upset.
Source: ZUMA Press, Inc.

The wedding was, however, not how she planned it to be. A few days before the wedding reception, Karen was left dumbfounded when she heard the grave news from Thomas. A while before meeting her, he'd undergone a vasectomy. But Karen's dream of married life was to have kids.

Tom refused her monetary offer to reverse the procedure. Karen felt betrayed by the very fact that he'd kept the critical part of him to himself. After all, the possibility of children was the main requirement she'd set in a man.

The then-29-year-old wanted to call off the wedding and cried while explaining to her mother, Agnes, his lie on the phone. Her mother did not let her cancel the wedding because family & friends were invited from all over the country to attend the event, and the wedding cost had been paid out already.

"The invitations have gone out. There are reporters and photographers coming. PEOPLE Magazine is going to be there. The wedding is on, and you will walk down that aisle. You made your bed, Karen," Agnes told her. "Now, you'll have to lay in it."

He Apparently Couldn't Afford the Lifestyle He Was Showing

At the time of the relationship between Thomas Burring and Karen Carpenter, expensive cars and properties tagged multimillionaires in him. Karen's friends and family all thought so. But the truth was far from that simple.

Carpenter's assistant and her band's secretary, Evelyn Wallace, who passed away in 2013, recalled,

"It wasn't long after they got married that he started asking her for money. He'd give her some excuse, and she'd give him the money. He'd ask for $35,000 and $50,000 at a time. Finally, it got down to the point where all she had left was stocks and bonds."

According to Karen's later tour companion, Karen "Itchie" Ramone, "Tom couldn't afford the houses, the cars, her wedding ring; he couldn't pay for anything."

Itchie Ramone and Karen Carpenter.
Itchie Ramone was the closest friend Karen had.
Source: Tumblr

Karen shared those household fallouts with her friends, and that's how Ramone recounted those days. (She also passed away.) Her friends indicate Tom was abusive towards her, and she even admitted being fearful when he lost his temper.

While her disease was setting in, her behaviors also continued to change. After a heated discussion when Karen told him she wanted kids and a violent reaction from Tom, her friends wanted her to see a marriage counselor with Tom.

However, after reportedly being called a "bag of bones," her reformed band, The Carpenters, chose to go on an international tour in Europe and South America. Itchie went along.

American pop duo The Carpenters, Karen Carpenter (1950 - 1983) and her brother Richard, Amsterdam, Netherlands, February 1974.
The Carpenters, Karen Carpenter (1950 - 1983) and her brother Richard, in Amsterdam, Netherlands, February 1974.

After the tour's conclusion, she returned to Los Angeles in November 1981. But she had revised her will in September 1981, before returning, so that her marital Newport Beach home & its contents would go to Burring, while the rest of her $5-$10 million would be for her brother and parents.

After an argument after a family dinner two months later, they officially broke up after 14 months of marriage. She relocated to NYC's Regency Hotel in January 1982. However after the severe effects of her disease, she was admitted to Lenox Hill Hospital in September 1982.

Also Don't Forget To Read: Louanne Stephens: A Versatile Actress with a Diverse Portfolio

Thomas Burring Has Not Resurfaced Once after Karen's Demise

A month later, on October 28, 1982, she filed for divorce from Thomas while still in the hospital. The battle with anorexia was too much for her despite her weight improvement at the hospital. She made her last public appearance on January 11, 1983, at a gathering of past Grammy winners.

On February 4, 1983, she passed away after collapsing in her bedroom in her parents' home while getting dressed. The cause of death was not the disease itself, however. It was heart failure due to the repeated use of ipecac syrup, an emetic used to induce vomiting.

KAREN CARPENTER with Richard Carpenter and Thomas Barris during the wedding.
Burring (center) hasn't been in the spotlight since Karen's passing.

The divorce was not entirely finalized since she had the final papers to sign before that weekend. The story between her and Thomas ends there.

While the whole world was mourning the loss of an iconic singer, Thomas was nowhere to be found. Fans don't know if he attended the funeral or not.

While several others in Karen's life passed away, there are reports that Thomas Burris is still alive. But if there ever will be words from him, it would only be known when he chooses to say so.

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