Anne Baxter, 62, a stage, film and television actress whose roles ranged from the scheming ingenue in the 1950 film "All About Eve" to the wealthy, widowed hotel owner, Victoria Cabot, in "Hotel," a lavish ABC television series that revels in all the gaudy intrigue of nighttime soap opera, died yesterday at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York.
Miss Baxter had been hospitalized since Dec. 4, when she collapsed after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage while walking along Madison Avenue. She never regained consciousness.
Her acting career spanned 50 years and it was marked by moments of brilliance and episodes of great popularity. If she was not quite in the first rank of the stars of her time, she was very close to it, and she proved more durable than many in her profession. Publicists described her at one time as the perfect "queen of the sophomore class," and she later tried to overcome that image by smoking cigars in public. And parts of her off-screen life were as dramatic and unlikely as anything ever seen on "Hotel," including a four-year interlude in the Outback of Australia that produced two daughters.
Miss Baxter won an Academy Award for best supporting actress in the 1946 movie "The Razor's Edge," an adaptation of the story by W. Somerset Maugham. She played the role of Sophie McDonald, a wife who goes to pieces following the death of her husband and baby in an auto accident and tries to numb her sorrow in drink in Paris.
But she was probably best known for her performance as the ruthless and ambitious young stage actress, Eve Harrington, who plots to steal both career and husband from the older Margo Channing, played by Bette Davis, in "All About Eve." She was nominated for best actress for that role, but she was competing against Davis, and there were many in Hollywood who believed the two canceled each other out. The award went instead to Judy Holliday for "Born Yesterday."
More than 20 years later, in the summer of 1971, Miss Baxter returned to that story on the New York stage, but in the role of Margo Channing in "Applause," a musical adaptation of "All About Eve."
Miss Baxter's television roles included the mini-series "East of Eden" and "The Money Changers" as well as several guest appearances on shows ranging from "Batman," where she once played an evil magician, to "The Love Boat." She joined "Hotel" in 1983, replacing Bette Davis, who had become ill.
In film, her parts included that of the beautiful Egyptian Queen Nefertiti opposite Charlton Heston as Moses and Yul Brynner as the pharaoh in "The Ten Commandments," which was made in 1957. She won her first movie part in 1940 in "Twenty Mule Team," starring Wallace Beery. Later she appeared in such movies as "The Great Profile," "Pied Piper," "Swamp Water," "The Luck of the Irish," "Full House," "Cimarron," "Fools Parade" and "The Magnificent Ambersons," with Orson Welles. Her early roles, in particular, tended to be those of the wholesome girl-next-door type.
Then in 1959 she stunned the cinema industry with the announcement that she was quitting acting to marry an Australian cattle rancher and that she would live on his 36,000-acre property 10 miles from the nearest neighbor. But she returned four years later, saying she could not stand the isolation and loneliness.
"I yearned for a Fuller Brush man, I was so lonely . . . . I saw a country through a dirty window, unless I washed it myself," she said upon her return. She also wanted to resume her career. "Acting is not what I do. It's what I am," she said. In 1976 she wrote a book about her Australian experience, "Intermission: A True Story."
Miss Baxter was born in Michigan City, Ind., a granddaughter of the architect Frank Lloyd Wright. She grew up in the suburbs of New York, and made her stage debut in 1936 in New York when she was 13 in the murder mystery "Seen But Not Heard." A reviewer in Variety magazine called her a "cute kidlet."
As a child she saw Helen Hayes perform, and she decided then that she wanted to be an actress. In a press interview shortly after her stage debut, she said, "There is no stopping ambition. I always like to dramatize things in my life. Acting is not merely fun, it is an earnest career."
During the next few years she appeared in two more short-run Broadway plays, and then spent the summers of 1938 and 1939 with the Cape Playhouse stock company in Dennis on Cape Cod, Mass. She went to Hollywood in the fall of 1939, signed a seven-year contract with 20th Century-Fox and appeared in a bit part in her first movie the following year.
Miss Baxter married actor John Hodiak in 1946, and for several years they were said to have the perfect Hollywood marriage. But they divorced in 1953.
She married Randolph Galt and went to live with him in Australia in 1959, but that marriage also ended in divorce. In February 1977, she married David Klee, a banker, who died later that year.
She had one daughter, Katrina, by Hodiak, and two daughters, Melissa and Maginel, by Galt.