Tom Baker (American actor)
August 23, 1940|
|Died||September 2, 1982
New York City, New York
|Cause of death||Drug overdose|
Tom Baker (August 23, 1940 – September 2, 1982) was an American actor who starred in the Andy Warhol movie I, A Man (1967). He was a known drug addict and alcoholic, and a close friend of Jim Morrison of The Doors.
Baker was the son of Tom Baker Jr. and Ellie, military parents who retired in San Francisco. His older sister married and then divorced a well-known British Formula 1 racer.
Baker started his career as a stage actor in New York City and assisted Norman Mailer in the stage adaptation of Mailer's novel The Deer Park. Once he moved to Hollywood, he acted in a series of B movies. He also continued to do stage work, directing the 1973 premiere of The Grabbing of the Fairy, a masque by Michael McClure.
He produced and directed his own film, Bongo Wolf's Revenge in 1970. The cast included Severn Darden and P J Proby. A number of people from Morrison's circle of friends worked on the production including Paul Ferrara, Babe Hill and Frank Lisciandro and music was provided by Mike Bloomfield and The Doors. One of Baker's co-stars in I, a Man was Valerie Solanas, who later shot Warhol in his office at The Factory.
Relationship with Jim Morrison
The relationship he had with Morrison and Morrison's long term girlfriend Pamela Courson was described in a memoir, Blue Centre Light, and an extract was published in High Times in June 1981. The stormy friendship between the three of them is depicted in the stage play The Lizard King, written by Jay Jeff Jones, which was produced in Los Angeles in 1991.
Clay Wilcox took the role of Baker and Jim Morrison was played by Stephen Nichols.
In November 1969, Morrison found himself in trouble with the law after harassing airline staff during a flight to Phoenix, Arizona to see The Rolling Stones in concert. Both he and fellow traveller Baker were charged with "interfering with the flight of an intercontinental aircraft and public drunkenness".
Baker died of a drug overdose in 1982 on the Lower East Side in New York City, in a seedy junk-house for heroin addicts. His death caused confusion in the media. British actor Tom Baker was more well-known at the time, due to his portrayal of the Doctor on the BBC programme Doctor Who, and was also a heavy drinker. Some publications mistakenly reported that the British actor had died.