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Why Hasn't Tom Burris Ever Spoken About Karen Carpenter?

Discussion in 'A Song For You: The Carpenters Forum' started by amit1234, Jul 30, 2003.

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  1. amit1234

    amit1234 Member Thread Starter

    Twenty years since Karen's passing, and I don't believe I've ever come across a single comment by Tom Burris about his exwife. Not a comment expressing his sorrow over her passing. Not an acknowledgement about their marriage/divorce. Heck, did he even attend her funeral?

    After watching the VH1 Behind The Music Special on the Carpenters, Itchy Ramone's unflattering comments about Tom ("He wasn't the kind of support she needed") made me think about what a (and excuse my language) a**hole this guy must have been. "You can keep her" were among some of his last words to Karen's family upon deciding to breakup with her. What kind of man doesn't support his wife through an eating disorder? Of course, no one can fully explain what went on in that relationship, however, one would think that a husband would take care of his wife and do everything in his power to make her feel loved if he knew she had a history of intentionally hurting herself.

    I know this post might make me sound like I'm sitting a soapbox and I'm not laying complete blame on Burris for Karen's unfortunate demise, however, I still wanted to see what others have to say about this psuedo exhusband of hers.

    P.S. Does anyone else find it hard to believe his claim that he never heard of the Carpenters upon meeting Karen?
  2. saj77

    saj77 New Member

    I myself have often thought it a little strange that Mr. Burris has not discussed (at least not publicly) Karen and his failed relationship with her. I do not know Tom but my guess is that he is trying to keep in the past what must surely be a very painful chapter in his life. He may also be adhering to the old adage "if you don't have anything good to say, then don't say anything at all".

    I do not think it is fair to call Tom any names. Unless you yourself have been involved in a close relationship with someone battling an eating disorder you could not understand the destructive forces of such a disease. I would imagine that he did "everything in his power to make her feel loved" just as her family and friends did and that is simply not enough in these cases. In order to recover a person suffering an eating disorder such as Karens' needs to learn to love themselves. It is simply unfair to blame Tom or anyone else in the world for Karens' tragic demise.

    As to the issue of whether Tom had heard of Carpenters at the time he met Karen, I would say that it is definitely possible. While most of us at this forum are music fans and find it hard to believe, there are many others who are not at all plugged in to the popular music of the time. Again, I do not know Tom personally, but he may be such a person.

  3. thestitch

    thestitch Member

    As to the nature of the man, Tom Burris, not an awful lot has been written. Didn't I read somewhere that he tossed his wedding ring into her casket? What kind of thoughts could possibly been going through his head and what was his reason for doing what seems to be to be a callous act? Richard has been known to say that he felt the marriage was doomed from the start. We fans sit here and try to read meaning into everyone's words to try to understand what happened, only because we care so deeply for Karen (and Richard). Sadly, we'll never know and perhaps, it's better that way.

  4. amit1234

    amit1234 Member Thread Starter

    Does anyone know what the man has been upto over the past twenty years? Is he still in Real Estate developement? Does he still live in California? I tried doing a search on google about him but didn't really dig deep.

    Amit...who just learned yesterday that John Denver died in a 1997 plane accident :o
  5. amit1234

    amit1234 Member Thread Starter

    OMG - Allexperts.com has the answer to some of our questions...plus some more insight into Tom Burris' career (courtesy of Randy - a Carpenters biographer).


    Question The question that I have is... Karen had a step-son that was 18 years old. Do you know what his mame was and what do you think the role that he played in the family... Did he know about his step-mothers illness. Secondly I read that Tom apparently threw his wedding ring into Karen's casket??? Is that true??? Thanks... Kyle...

    I can't find the name of Tom Burris' son at the moment, but I understand that Tom lived with his son for a period of time before his marriage to Karen. Notice I say Tom lived with his son, not the other way around. Tom turned out to be a lot less of a real estate tycoon than he let on. According to a family friend of the Carpenters, Tom was broke and moved in with his teenage son. I don't think he was all that present after his dad married Karen and I have never heard of any comments he has made about her. It would be interesting to track him down and get his views on the relationship and Karen's illness. And yes, according to Carpenters' biographer Ray Coleman, Tom did throw his wedding ring in the casket during the viewing in the days before Karen's funeral. Although it sounds harsh, I believe it was done out of love for Karen. It could be read either way I guess -- I see it as sort of a "goodbye" gesture, nothing negative.

  6. Murray

    Murray Well-Known Member

    Tom Burris did speak to a reporter from "People" magazine after Karen died. The following is a quote from the February 21, 1983 issue:

    In 1980 her mother urged Karen to attend a dinner at the chic Ma Maison restaurant that Karen wanted to skip, and there she met Tom Burris, a 39-year-old divorce with an 18-year-old son. Two months later they were engaged.

    Although Burris insists "We always got along, always cared about each other," they soon grew apart. "Karen was dealing with her anorexia and her career, I was dealing with my real estate problems," he explains. "I feel totally guilty, like I'd like to reverse everything. I tried to work with her. I got her in touch with a doctor, but she wouldn't admit she had an eating problem. We both tried, but we just couldn't work it out."

    When Karen died, she was still legally married to Burris, and it's possible that he could have made a legal claim for part of her estate. I've always suspected that Tom's silence was a condition of the estate settlement. He got some money without having to go to court (and risk losing), and the Carpenter family didn't have to worry that he'd write a tell-all book. But that's only a theory. I suppose that we'll never know what really happened.

  7. I'm with Marilyn here. Some things are better left alone.

    NP: radio at work
  8. mr J.

    mr J. Active Member

    Whatever happened in Karen's marriage doesn't matter at this point,but,for the record,Tom Burris was a real estate developer,and he was also on Ronald Reagan's presidential campaign committee when he met Karen.These comments about him being broke don't have any merit,because Karen insisted on marrying someone with the same financial position as her.And,she could have very easily hired a private investigator to check Tom's financial situation before she married him.I also think Tom is doing the right thing by keeping quiet.A marriage broke up-what is there to say?
  9. CraigGA

    CraigGA Well-Known Member

    This is one of those issues that I feel we should respect privacy out of the soul admiration of their musical legacy. Their music touches our soul, and out of this personal expression, we should, in return, respect personal privacy.
  10. SwimAMile

    SwimAMile New Member

    I once knew a couple in which the wife had been struggling with anorexia but didn't own up to it for a long time. When she finally did, but went back and forth in her ability to overcome it, the toll her behaviors took on the marrriage were more than her husband could handle. By his own admission, he contributed to the communication breakdowns, but he also could only handle so much before watching himself spiral downwards.

    I'm not drawing comparisons with Karen, but I bring this up to illustrate what I learned from seeing both sides of such a situation. The bottom line is this: none of us can every appreciate how anyone's behaviors impact another's marital relationship. Wise people never cast dispersions on another, find fault or raise the specter of "should's."

    Regardless of what happened between Tom and Karen, or Tom's reasons for remaining silent, one thing is true: he never contributed anything negative to the memory of Karen after her tragic and untimely death.

    As a 30+ year fan, I'm quite grateful for that.
  11. Tom and members of his family are unable to discuss anything regarding Karen, the Carpenters and their marriage due to legal action by Richard.

    I have edited this message to include only fact. Tom Burris told me this himself, so I feel sure about it. The rest of my post was unneccesary gossip and I apologize for contributing that...

  12. Jeff

    Jeff Well-Known Member

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't this thread border on gossip? How does it pertain to Carpenters recording career? I know that there are alot of questions and that people want to gain a better understanding of the what, why's and who's. It just seems that perhaps Karen's "personal" life shouldn't be splayed open for the whole world to dish about. The real focus ought to be the marvelous legacy of music that Karen left behind for all of us to enjoy. There we can find the true endearing qualities about Karen that speak volumes about the woman.

  13. Well, without closing the thread down since this DOES intrude into personal lives, I DID try to steer folks away from the topic by saying that some things are better left alone.

    I guess the hint was not taken. :rolleyes:

    ...who could care less about Tom Burris, online...
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