June 17, 1954 |
St. Louis, Missouri, United States
|Alma mater||Yale University|
|Spouse(s)||Adrianne Lobel (1995–2009)
Christa Justus (2012–present)
Linn-Baker was born in St. Louis, Missouri. His mother, Joan, was a dancer and his father, William Nelson Baker, co-founded the Open Stage Theater in Hartford. He graduated from Wethersfield High School in Wethersfield, Connecticut, in 1972, and from Yale University in 1976 (where he was known as Mark Baker; Linn is actually his middle name). He then attended the Yale School of Drama, receiving a MFA in Drama in 1979, and following that, found most of his early roles on stage.
In 1995, Linn-Baker married Adrianne Lobel, the daughter of children's book author Arnold Lobel, best known for his Frog and Toad series. They were divorced, after having one daughter. Linn-Baker helped to adapt his father-in-law's stories into the Tony-nominated Broadway musical A Year with Frog and Toad, in which Linn-Baker played Toad and Jay Goede played Frog. On December 29, 2012, Linn-Baker married actress Christa Justus.
He developed and performed in a two-man comedy show, The Laundry Hour, with Lewis Black, in the early 1980s. He appeared in the 1983 Broadway version of the Doonesbury comic strip. He appeared in Laughter on the 23rd Floor in 1993; the 1996 revival of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum; the 1998 Roundabout Theatre Company production of A Flea in Her Ear; the 2003 musical A Year with Frog and Toad; and the 2006 comedy Losing Louie.
His film debut is a small part in Woody Allen's 1979 film Manhattan. Unfortunately for Linn-Baker, most of his scenes were later cut from the film. Three years later, he would land a far more memorable film role partly inspired by Allen himself, playing Benjy Stone in the 1982 comedy film My Favorite Year alongside Peter O'Toole. In a manner similar to his future role in Perfect Strangers, Linn-Baker played the straight man to O'Toole's outrageous character, Alan Swann.
Having attained success on stage and the big screen, Linn-Baker began to turn his sights toward television. In 1983, he appeared in an unsold detective show pilot called O'Malley. The following year saw a role on the television movie, The Ghost Writer, and in the summer series, The Comedy Zone. Soon, Linn-Baker was appearing in several high-profile television shows. He guest-starred on a 1984 episode of Miami Vice as Bonzo Barry and portrayed hapless office worker Phil West on a 1985 episode of Moonlighting entitled "Atlas Belched". Linn-Baker starred with Charles Kimbrough in the 1985 CBS pilot The Recovery Room, a sitcom about a bar located across from a major city hospital and its inhabitants. Airing as a special that summer, the pilot did not lead to a regular series. Between parts, Linn-Baker would also appear during this time in television commercials pitching products ranging from Kellogg's Nutri-Grain to Kraft's Life Savers.
Linn-Baker starred in the ABC series Perfect Strangers as Larry Appleton, a young man living on his own for the first time in Chicago. Larry's world was disrupted when a distant cousin from the (fictional) Mediterranean island of Mypos, Balki Bartokomous (Bronson Pinchot), showed up on his doorstep. Storylines revolved around Larry's attempts to show Balki the ways of American culture, although the neurotic Larry frequently proved to be just as naive as Balki. The series ran for seven seasons. Later, he appeared in Peter Bogdanovich's 1992 film Noises Off.
In 2005, he was a regular cast member on the WB Network sitcom Twins, from Will & Grace producers David Kohan and Max Mutchnick. The show was canceled after a single season. He also appeared in the 2010 film How Do You Know as Ron. In 2011, he starred in his sixth Broadway show Relatively Speaking in a one-act play by Woody Allen. He previously appeared opposite Whoopi Goldberg in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. In 2016 he appeared off-Broadway as Sir Peter Teazle in The School for Scandal at the Lucille Lortel Theatre.
On a 1992 episode of Full House, Linn-Baker played Dick Donaldson, the wealthy, snobbish cousin of Becky Donaldson Katsopolis (Lori Loughlin). In 1997, he guest starred on Family Matters as the abusive boss of Harriette Winslow (Jo Marie Payton). Linn-Baker guested three times on Hangin' with Mr. Cooper as Larry Weeks. Additionally, he appeared on an episode of Law & Order as a strip club owner being extorted by the Mob. In a 1997 episode of Sesame Street, he had a guest role as a veterinarian examining a sick—and invisible—Barkley.
Linn-Baker also directed numerous episodes of Family Matters, Hangin' with Mr. Cooper, Step By Step and The Trouble with Larry. He appeared as a spokesperson for Peter Pan peanut butter in a series of commercials in the late 1980s and 1990s.
He also appeared in a Christmas episode of Ally McBeal as a man fired for seeing a unicorn.
On a 2003 episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent, he guested as an insurance investigator who displays strong Asperger's Syndrome traits. He gets a degree of empathy from Det. Robert Goren and a number of behind-his-back snickers from Goren's partner Alexandra Eames. His character made a return cameo appearance in the season 6 episode "Endgame", where it was revealed Goren has kept in touch with the character through correspondence. In season 2, episode 14 ("Probability"), the last line spoken by Eames is "I'm sure he'd like a pen pal."
He joined his friend, fellow Yale Drama School graduate and former sidekick Lewis Black, on the audiobook version of Black's second book Me of Little Faith where he and Black recreate The Laundry Hour, an act they did in New York City in the early 1980s. He guest-stars in several episodes of the children's TV show The Electric Company in February–March 2009 as "Uncle Sigmund Scrambler".
In 2009, he appeared in an episode of the U.S. version of Life On Mars, playing a character who collected women's underwear that he later used for masturbation. In 2010, he appeared in the episode of Law & Order, "The Taxman Cometh" as Dr. Vincent Balicheck, a physician who used controversial therapies on cancer patients and that caused the patients to die in the year 2010, during a reprieve from the U.S. estate tax.
Linn-Baker and Perfect Strangers are referenced in the HBO TV series The Leftovers, which takes place after a fictional global event called the "Sudden Departure," the inexplicable, simultaneous disappearance of 140 million people, 2% of the world's population. Within the show, the entire cast of Perfect Strangers has departed — except for Linn-Baker, who, it turns out, has faked his own departure. (A present-day Linn-Baker appears, as himself, in The Leftovers season 2, episode 1, "Axis Mundi" and season 3, episode 2, "Don't Be Ridiculous".)
- Shattuck, Kathryn. "Vows: Christa Justus and Mark Linn-Baker". The New York Times. Retrieved January 13, 2013.
- "Perfect Strangers Online – Mark Linn-Baker Articles – Men's Look – 8/87". Perfectstrangers.tv. Retrieved 2013-04-22.
- "Perfect Strangers Online – Episode Guide – Episode 5: Check This". Perfectstrangers.tv. 1986-04-22. Retrieved 2013-04-22.
- Patricia Seremet; Courant Columnist (1996-12-02). "What Now, Hartford, After The Debate?". Hartford Courant. Retrieved 2013-04-22.
- Jane Holahan (April 11, 2013). "Frog and Toad's long friendship turns musical". Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era.
- The School for Scandal review by Shani R. Friedman, Theatre Is Easy, April 30, 2016
- Philadelphia Chickens. Retrieved August 28, 2011.
- "The Taxman Cometh". Retrieved June 1, 2010.
- Sepinwall, Alan. "The Leftovers co-creator explains crazy season 3 opening & Perfect Strangers gag: Why the TGIF show of all shows? And where did the idea come from for that prologue?," HitFix (October 5, 2015).
- "Axis Mundi" directed by Mimi Lede; written by Damon Lindelof and Jacqueline Hoyt (aired October 4, 2015).
- "Don't Be Ridiculous" directed by Keith Gordon; written by Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta (aired April 23, 2017).
- "Mark Linn-Baker Peter Pan peanut butter ad # 4". YouTube.