from Next Stop, Greenwich Village, 1976
|Born||Leonard Joel Baker
January 17, 1945
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
|Died||April 12, 1982
Hallandale, Florida, U.S.
|Cause of death||AIDS|
Baker was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Bertha and William Baker. A 1962 graduate of Brookline High School, he received his college degree from Boston University, and performed in regional theater. He spent several summers at the O'Neill Center's National Playwrights Conference in Waterford, Connecticut.
Baker appeared Off Broadway in plays such as Conerico Was Here to Stay, Paradise Gardens East, The Year Boston Won the Pennant, and Summertree, debuting on Broadway in 1974 in The Freedom of the City, performing in repertory in Secret Service and Boy Meets Girl, and in Pericles, Prince of Tyre, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Henry V and Measure for Measure with the Joseph Papp New York Shakespeare Festival. He devoted himself to the production of new plays at The O'Neill Center's National Playwrights Conference where he worked with Werner Liepolt and many other young playwrights. He was highly praised by critics Clive Barnes and Walter Kerr and won the Tony Award for his performance in I Love My Wife.
Far and away most prominent amongst his film roles, which included The Hospital and The Paper Chase, was Next Stop, Greenwich Village, for which he was widely praised by critics and for which he was nominated for a Golden Globe Award.
Baker's career was cut short by illness. Throat problems led to him leaving the cast of the pre-Broadway show Broadway, Broadway in 1978, and his final television performances were in 1979. He died on April 12, 1982 of cancer, although critic and LGBTQ activist David Ehrenstein later claimed his death was caused by AIDS. He had two brothers, Alan and Malcolm.
- The Freedom of the City – Alvin Theatre, 1974
- Secret Service – Playhouse Theatre, 1976 – Henry Dumont
- Boy Meets Girl – Playhouse Theatre, 1976 – Robert Law
- I Love My Wife – Ethel Barrymore Theatre, 1977 – Alvin
- Off Broadway
- Conerico Was Here to Stay – Fortune Theatre, 1969 – Young Man
- Summertree - Players Theatre, 1969 - Young Man
- Paradise Gardens East – Fortune Theatre, 1969 – Brother
- The Year Boston Won the Pennant – Mitzi Newhouse Theatre, 1969 – Dillinger/Peabody
- Barbary Shore – Joseph Papp Public Theater/New York Shakespeare Festival, 1973 – Mike Lovett
- Pericles, Prince of Tyre – Joseph Papp Public Theater/New York Shakespeare Festival, 1974 – Thailard/Knight of Ephesus/Boult
- The Merry Wives of Windsor – Joseph Papp Public Theater/New York Shakespeare Festival, 1974 – Abraham Slender
- Henry V – Joseph Papp Public Theater/New York Shakespeare Festival, 1976 – Dauphin
- Measure for Measure – oseph Papp Public Theater/New York Shakespeare Festival, 1976 – Lucio
- "Tony Legacy Search Results: I Love My Wife". The American Theatre Wing's Tony Awards. Retrieved 2008-07-06.
- "Seems Four Ladies Hoping to be Mrs. William Paley". Lakeland Ledger. 30 August 1978. Retrieved 17 May 2016.
- "LENNY BAKER, 37, STAGE ACTOR". The New York Times. 13 April 1982. Retrieved 17 May 2016.
- David Ehrenstein (11 December 2003). "Death in the Afternoon". L.A. Weekly. Retrieved 17 May 2016.