A gangling song-and-dance man with extensive TV and stage credits, Carpenter also made his brief mark in a handful of MGM musicals which embodied the small-town vision of the USA so prevalent in the 1950s. Thin as a rail and standing 6'3," Carpenter possessed a handsomely boyish face and loads of eager-beaver energy to match, all honed during a childhood spent as a performer. He was singing and dancing at age four and, by the time he was nine, was performing as a child magician in traveling carnivals. Carpenter served briefly with the Navy Seabees in WWII and made it to Broadway in his late teens in "Bright Boy" (1944). After making his feature debut in the sincere, low-budget, independently made film about a light-skinned African-American family passing for white, "Lost Boundaries" (1949), he was signed by MGM.