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Becky Ann Baker

Becky Ann Baker

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Also Known As: Becky Gelke Died:
Born: February 17, 1953 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Fort Knox, Kentucky, USA Profession:

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

An accomplished character actress with a strong work ethic, Becky Ann Baker found plentiful opportunities on stage, screen and television, and regularly went back and forth between these mediums. Beginning with the Broadway production of "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" (1978-82), the Kentucky native graced a number of popular stage shows, including "Titanic" (1997-98) and "The Vagina Monologues" (1999-2003). It did not take long for Baker to develop a reputation as a dependable supporting player and she was cast in movies that ran the gamut from blockbusters like "Men in Black" (1997) and "Spider-Man 3" (2007) to such small scale indie projects as "Death of a President" (2006) and "Spinning Into Butter" (2009). Television work also figured prominently on Baker⿿s résumé and after she entered her middle-aged years, the actress was a particular favorite of casting directors looking for suburban moms, a role she played with aplomb on the cult comedy series "Freaks and Geeks" (NBC, 1999-2000) as loveable Jean Weir. She later did effective variations on previous matriarchs for programs like "Smash" (NBC, 2012 - ) and the controversial "Girls" (HBO, 2012 - ), where Baker earned additional...

An accomplished character actress with a strong work ethic, Becky Ann Baker found plentiful opportunities on stage, screen and television, and regularly went back and forth between these mediums. Beginning with the Broadway production of "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" (1978-82), the Kentucky native graced a number of popular stage shows, including "Titanic" (1997-98) and "The Vagina Monologues" (1999-2003). It did not take long for Baker to develop a reputation as a dependable supporting player and she was cast in movies that ran the gamut from blockbusters like "Men in Black" (1997) and "Spider-Man 3" (2007) to such small scale indie projects as "Death of a President" (2006) and "Spinning Into Butter" (2009). Television work also figured prominently on Baker⿿s résumé and after she entered her middle-aged years, the actress was a particular favorite of casting directors looking for suburban moms, a role she played with aplomb on the cult comedy series "Freaks and Geeks" (NBC, 1999-2000) as loveable Jean Weir. She later did effective variations on previous matriarchs for programs like "Smash" (NBC, 2012 - ) and the controversial "Girls" (HBO, 2012 - ), where Baker earned additional attention for the courage she displayed participating in one of the program⿿s racy nude scenes. Never one to shy aware from a daring role or production, Baker possessed the sort of artistic fearlessness and diversity that helped make her stand out.

Becky Ann Baker was born Becky Gelke on Feb. 17, 1953 in Fort Knox, KY, but as part of a military family, she actually spent her adolescence on a number of different army bases. Even though she was never able to set down roots for very long, Baker found ways to cultivate her love of performing, which she first experienced upon watching her mother sing as a soloist in church. Bakerâ¿¿s later turn in a grade school production only convinced her more that performing was what she wanted to pursue in life. After graduating from Western Kentucky University with a BA in theater and minors in music and dance, Baker studied under noted acting teacher and director Peter Flood. She made her bow on Broadway in the musical smash "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" (1978-82), where she played multiple roles, and appeared as Eunice Hubbell in a short-lived revival of "A Streetcar Named Desire" (1988).

Bakerâ¿¿s film debut came in the New York City sequences of the Jackie Chan vehicle "The Protector" (1985), followed by additional turns in "Full Moon in Blue Water" (1988), "Blue Steel" (1990), "Come See the Paradise" (1990), and "Jacobâ¿¿s Ladder" (1990). At the beginning of the 1990s, she married equally busy character actor Dylan Baker â¿¿ best known for his chilling performance as a pedophile in Todd Solondzâ¿¿s 1998 film "Happiness" â¿¿ and adopted his surname professionally, all of which inaugurated a long professional collaboration with him. As a solo actor, Baker was a virtual off-Broadway fixture throughout this period and her credits included "The Colorado Catechism" (1990), the six-part production "Durang/Durang" (1994) and "Laura Dennis" (1995). She also earned a Drama-Logue Award for a 1994 staging of "Night and Her Stars." Movie audiences saw Baker in roles of varying sizes in such major releases as "Lorenzoâ¿¿s Oil" (1992), "Unstrung Heroes" (1992), "Sabrina" (1995), "White Squall" (1996), "Men in Black" (1997), and "In & Out" (1997). The closing years of the decade found her back on Broadway for the musical version of "Titanic" (1997-98), "The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told" (1998-99), and "The Vagina Monologues" (1999-2003), as well as television guest appearances on such programs as "Frasier" (NBC, 1993-2004) and "Star Trek: Voyager" (UPN, 1995-2001).

A regular small screen gig came Bakerâ¿¿s way when she was added to the cast of "Freaks and Geeks" (NBC, 1999-2000), a hip, smartly written sitcom from executive producer Judd Apatow that failed to find an audience, but developed a loyal cult following and helped launch the careers of James Franco, Seth Rogen, and Jason Segal. Her performance on the show as a suburban mom proved so endearing that Baker was often tapped to portray similar characters in other projects. On the movie front, Baker co-starred with her husband in Woody Allenâ¿¿s "Celebrity" (1998) and also appeared in Sam Raimiâ¿¿s darkly comedic thriller, "A Simple Plan" (1998) for which the actress received a Blockbuster Entertainment Award nomination. She also developed a new career as an audio book narrator and her assignments included such notable works as Stephen Kingâ¿¿s From a Buick 8 (2002) and The Man in the Black Suit: 4 Dark Tales (2002), and Patricia Cornwellâ¿¿s Isle of Dogs (2004).

More stage work followed as Emilia in "Othello" (2001) and Charles Buschâ¿¿s wild spoof of 1930s melodramas "Shanghai Moon" (2003), which was put on by the Drama Department, a New York theatre company that she had co-founded. Baker also returned to the Great White Way in a new staging of Stephen Sondheimâ¿¿s "Assassins" (2004) and appeared off-Broadway in "The House in Town" (2006) and a revival of Tennessee Williamsâ¿¿ "Suddenly Last Summer" (2006-07). More big screen engagements came in "Two Weeks Notice" (2002), "War of the Worlds" (2005), "Stay" (2005), "The Night Listener" (2006), and the divisive faux documentary "Death of a President" (2006), which posited the events that might have followed in the wake of a George W. Bush assassination. She also reunited with Raimi on "Spider-Man 3" (2007) and essayed characters in "Nights in Rodanthe" (2008) and "Spinning into Butter" (2009).

Baker continued to log television credits, including a three-episode stint as another mom on the venerable soap opera "All My Children" (ABC, 1970-2011), and appeared with her husband in the biblical miniseries "Kings" (NBC, 2009). The two Bakers also worked together on "Smash" (NBC, 2012 - ) as the disapproving parents of Katharine McPheeâ¿¿s Karen Cartwright, who tried to convince them that she was ready to leave Iowa for an independent existence in the Big Apple as a Broadway actress. Baker attracted additional attention via her appearance on the controversial cable series "Girls" (HBO, 2012 - ), where she was the exasperated mother of Hannah (series creator Lena Dunham), a decidedly non-ambitious writer who allows her parents to pick up the tab for her indolent New York City lifestyle. The HBO program garnered much press for its frankness and Baker played right along with the showâ¿¿s approach, appearing nude at age 59 for a sex scene with onscreen husband Peter Scolari. She also returned to the stage for Arthur Millerâ¿¿s "All My Sons" (2008-09) and "Good People" (2011) on Broadway, as well as graced the Williamstown Theatre Festivalâ¿¿s production of "The Blue Deep" (2012), opposite Blythe Danner and Jack Gilpin. Additionally, Baker supported her husbandâ¿¿s feature directorial debut "23 Blast" (2013) by undertaking a part in the family film.

By John Charles

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
2.
 23 Blast (2014)
3.
 Discoverers, The (2013)
4.
 Hope Springs (2012)
5.
6.
 Spider-Man 3 (2007)
7.
8.
9.
10.
 Gretchen (2006)
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1985:
Made feature film debut in "The Protector," starring Jackie Chan
1988:
TV-movie debut, "In the Line of Duty: The F.B.I. Murders" (NBC)
1990:
Played a nurse in Adrian Lyne directed horror "Jacob's Ladder"
1995:
Appeared in Sydney Pollack's remake of "Sabrina" with Harrison Ford, Julia Ormond, and Greg Kinnear
1997:
Cast in the blockbuster "Men in Black"
1997:
Made Broadway debut in original production of "Titanic"
1999:
Played the sweet, soft-spoken mother to Linda Cardellini and John Francis Daley on NBC's "Freaks and Geeks"
2004:
Portrayed Sara Jane Moore, who attempted to assassinate Gerald Ford in 1975, in Broadway revival of "Assassins"
2005:
Appeared in the Steven Spielberg alien invasion movie "War of the Worlds"
2007:
Guest starred on three episodes of "All My Children" (ABC)
2007:
Landed minor role in "Spider-Man 3" as Mrs. Stacy
2012:
Guest starred on HBO's "Girls" as Hannah's (Lena Dunham) mother
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