Joe Don Baker
|Joe Don Baker|
February 12, 1936 |
Groesbeck, Texas, USA
|Spouse(s)||Marlo Baker (1969–1980)|
Joe Don Baker (born February 12, 1936) is an American character actor and a life member of the Actors Studio, known for iconic roles as a Mafia hitman in Charley Varrick, deputy sheriff Thomas Jefferson Geronimo III in Final Justice, real-life Tennessee Sheriff Buford Pusser in Walking Tall, brute-force-with-a-badge detective Mitchell in Mitchell, James Bond villain Brad Whitaker in The Living Daylights, CIA Agent Jack Wade in the James Bond films GoldenEye and Tomorrow Never Dies, the brilliant and tough NYPD Chief of Detectives Earl Eischied in television police drama, Eischied and his BAFTA-nominated performance in Edge of Darkness.
Life and career 
Baker was born in Groesbeck, Texas, the son of Edna (née McDonald) and Doyle Charles Baker. He attended the University of North Texas. In 1964 he appeared on stage in Marathon '33 at the ANTA Theatre in New York City. He got his start in acting as an uncredited character in the 1967 film Cool Hand Luke and as an illiterate vending machine robber in a 1969 episode of the TV series Mod Squad, but his real beginnings came when he scored the role of Steve McQueen's younger brother in Sam Peckinpah's Junior Bonner. He later starred in the 1973 film Walking Tall, directed by Phil Karlson and also starring in the filmmaker's final work, Framed, two years later. Baker was offered a cameo in the remake, but declined the offer.
His work in 1973's Charley Varrick may remain Baker's most memorable success. Baker was praised for a courageous and offbeat portrait of the sadistic hitman Molly. The film starred Walter Matthau as the bank robber Varrick, and won a British Academy Award.
Baker has given many outstanding performances in a career spanning four decades. In 1980, he became the first actor to receive $1,000,000 to star in a television series, the short-lived Eischeid.
He was "The Whammer," a baseball player modeled after Babe Ruth, in the 1984 baseball drama The Natural that starred Robert Redford. In a scene, the Whammer takes three swings at pitches from the young Roy Hobbs to try to impress a mysterious woman they have met on a train.
In 1985, he portrayed the corrupt Chief Jerry Karlin in Fletch. In the UK, he played CIA agent Darius Jedburgh in the BBC Television drama serial Edge of Darkness. He was nominated for "Best Actor" by the British Academy Television Awards, losing to his co-star Bob Peck.
While actor Carroll O'Connor was undergoing heart bypass surgery, Baker took his place on the television series In the Heat of the Night. Baker appeared as Captain Tom Dugan, a retired police captain who filled in while O'Connor's character was away at a police convention. Recently, he has appearances in "Joe Dirt" "The Dukes of Hazzard" "Strange Wilderness." Baker plays "King" in "Mud" with Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon and Sam Shepard. Directed by Jeff Nichols, opening in 2012. Marking his 45th year as a film actor.
James Bond series 
In 1987, Baker got the role of the villain Brad Whitaker in the Bond film The Living Daylights, starring Timothy Dalton as James Bond. In 1995 and 1997 Baker returned to the series, this time playing a different character, CIA agent Jack Wade, in GoldenEye and Tomorrow Never Dies with Pierce Brosnan as Bond. This makes Baker one of three actors to appear as both a Bond ally and a villain, the others being Charles Gray who appeared as Henderson in You Only Live Twice and as Blofeld in Diamonds Are Forever and Walter Gotell who appeared as Morzeny, the Spectre Island trainer in From Russia with Love and General Gogol, head of the KGB in six films between 1977 and 1987.
The character of Wade is similar to that of CIA agent Darius Jedburgh, played by Baker in the 1985 serial Edge of Darkness. This serial was directed by Martin Campbell and considered by several critics to be his best work. Campbell also cast Baker as Wade in GoldenEye.
In 2009, Baker delivered another performance in The Cleaner on A&E, playing an alcoholic military veteran attempting to help a friend cope with the loss of his son. He hires William Banks (played by Benjamin Bratt) to help him start back down the road to sobriety.
- Cool Hand Luke (1967)
- Guns of the Magnificent Seven (1969)
- Adam at 6 AM (1970)
- That Certain Summer (1972)
- Junior Bonner (1972)
- "Welcome Home, Soldier Boys" (1972)
- Charley Varrick (1973)
- Walking Tall (1973)
- The Outfit (1973)
- Golden Needles (1974)
- Mitchell (1975) — also a Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode
- Framed (1975)
- The Pack (1977)
- Speedtrap (1977)
- Checkered Flag or Crash (1977)
- Eischeid (1979)
- Joysticks (1983)
- Final Justice (1984) — also a Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode
- The Natural (1984)
- Fletch (1985)
- Edge of Darkness (1985)
- The Killing Time (1987)
- Leonard Part 6 (1987)
- The Living Daylights (1987)
- Criminal Law (1989)
- Cape Fear (1991)
- The Distinguished Gentleman (1992)
- Citizen Cohn (1992) (HBO)
- Reality Bites (1994)
- Congo (1995)
- GoldenEye (1995)
- Panther (1995)
- The Grass Harp (1995)
- Underneath (1995)
- Mars Attacks! (1996)
- Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
- Poodle Springs (1998) (HBO)
- Vegas, City of Dreams (2001)
- Joe Dirt (2001)
- The Commission (2003)
- The Dukes of Hazzard (2005)
- Strange Wilderness (2008)
- The Cleaner (2009 - Last American Casualty - Major Larry Duren)
- Mud (2012)
- Joe Don Baker at the Internet Movie Database
- Joe Don Baker at AllRovi
- Joe Don Baker at the University of Wisconsin's Actors Studio audio collection
- Joe Don Baker fansite (Defunct prior to 1/10)
- Joe Don Baker Tribute (Defunct prior to 1/10)