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Joe Don Baker Biography

  • Profession: Actor
  • Born: Feb 12, 1936
  • Died: Jan 1, 0001

Veteran character actor Joe Don Baker has been playing rugged good ol' boys since his uncredited role in [[Feature~V10957~Cool Hand Luke~coolhandluke]] in 1967. Born in Texas, his Southern drawl and ample proportions made him suitable to play countless numbers of simple-minded sheriffs, cops, and detectives in everything from big-budget blockbusters to low-grade action movies, although he more often appeared in the latter. On TV in the '60s, he guest starred on [[Feature~V132988~Bonanza~bonanza[tvseries]]], [[Feature~V284313~Gunsmoke~gunsmoke[tvseries]]], and [[Feature~V175187~Mission: Impossible~mission:impossible[tvseries]]] before starring in his own show, the short-lived detective series Eischied. On the big screen, he played the drifter in [[Performer~P105940~Sam Peckinpah~sampeckinpah]]'s [[Feature~V26791~Junior Bonner~juniorbonner]] in 1972. He same year he made the "hicksploitation" classic [[Feature~V53195~Walking Tall~walkingtall]], followed by [[Feature~V8960~Charley Varrick~charleyvarrick]], [[Feature~V93514~Golden Needles~goldenneedles]], [[Feature~V18421~Framed~framed]], and plenty of other poorly made action thrillers that have since gained a small but appreciative audience on home video. The best example is 1975 crime flick [[Feature~V32964~Mitchell~mitchell]], which was featured on an important transitional episode of [[Feature~V175211~Mystery Science Theater 3000~mysterysciencetheater3000[tvseries]]]. Baker plays the titular slob detective who goes after drug dealers while drinking a lot of Schlitz malt liquor and eating pork rinds. After this movie, he became something of a legendary figure to a small but loyal fan base, and his persona as a lovable rascal was fixed for the next few decades. In the '80s he appeared in bad comedies ([[Feature~V17781~Fletch~fletch]], [[Feature~V28957~Leonard, Part 6~leonardpart6]]) as well as bad action thrillers ([[Feature~V17294~Final Justice~finaljustice]], [[Feature~V19583~Getting Even~gettingeven]]). In 1989, he returned to television to play acting chief Tom Dugan on In the Heat of the Night and made small appearances in films, like the police chief who drinks Pepto-Bismol in [[Feature~V8064~Cape Fear~capefear]] (1991). He did branch out a little in the '90s to play [[Performer~P302956~Senator Joseph McCarthy~josephmccarthy]] in the made-for-TV movie [[Feature~V9735~Citizen Cohn~citizencohn]] as well as [[Performer~P62446~Winona Ryder~winonaryder]]'s yuppie dad in [[Feature~V131129~Reality Bites~realitybites]]. His later accomplishments include three [[Feature~V158529~James Bond~jamesbond[filmseries]]] appearances, first in [[Feature~V29760~Living Daylights~thelivingdaylights]] as a bad guy, then in [[Feature~V135622~Goldeneye~goldeneye]] and [[Feature~V158896~Tomorrow Never Dies~tomorrowneverdies]] as good guy Jack Wade. He returned to his stereotypical roots playing white-trash slobs as Richie's trailer park dad in [[Feature~V136613~Mars Attacks!~marsattacks]] and in an uncredited role in [[Feature~V240533~Joe Dirt~joedirt]]. In 2003, he appeared with veterans [[Performer~P40247~Martin Landau~martinlandau]], [[Performer~P111083~Martin Sheen~martinsheen]], and [[Performer~P2608~Edward Asner~edasner]] in The Commisson. ~ Andrea LeVasseur, Rovi