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Joe Don Baker

Joe Don Baker

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Also Known As: Died:
Born: February 12, 1936 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Groesback, Texas, USA Profession: actor, waiter, salesman

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

An imposing, Texas-born character actor and occasional lead who specialized in hardboiled types on either side of the moral fence, Joe Don Baker rose to fame as crime-smashing sheriff Buford Pusser in the blockbuster "Walking Tall" (1971) and enjoyed a three-decade career in its wake that included the BBC miniseries "Edge of Darkness" (1986), Martin Scorsese's "Cape Fear" (1991) and three appearances in the James Bond franchise, including "The Living Daylights" (1987). He began on Broadway and headed West in the mid-1960s, where he labored as hoods on episodic television. "Walking Tall," based on the tragic and violent life of a Tennessee lawman, made him a star, but he struggled to maintain a career as a leading man throughout the 1970s. He stepped back into character parts in the 1980s and 1990s, where he enjoyed steady and critically praised work, most notably in the TV biopic "Wallace" (TNT, 1997). Throughout his lengthy tenure on screen, he maintained an air of authentic toughness that made him a favorite among a wide variety of viewers.

An imposing, Texas-born character actor and occasional lead who specialized in hardboiled types on either side of the moral fence, Joe Don Baker rose to fame as crime-smashing sheriff Buford Pusser in the blockbuster "Walking Tall" (1971) and enjoyed a three-decade career in its wake that included the BBC miniseries "Edge of Darkness" (1986), Martin Scorsese's "Cape Fear" (1991) and three appearances in the James Bond franchise, including "The Living Daylights" (1987). He began on Broadway and headed West in the mid-1960s, where he labored as hoods on episodic television. "Walking Tall," based on the tragic and violent life of a Tennessee lawman, made him a star, but he struggled to maintain a career as a leading man throughout the 1970s. He stepped back into character parts in the 1980s and 1990s, where he enjoyed steady and critically praised work, most notably in the TV biopic "Wallace" (TNT, 1997). Throughout his lengthy tenure on screen, he maintained an air of authentic toughness that made him a favorite among a wide variety of viewers.

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Mud (2013)
2.
3.
4.
 Vegas City of Dreams (2002) Dylan
5.
 Joe Dirt (2001)
6.
 Poodle Springs (1998) P J Parker
7.
 To Dance With Olivia (1997) Horace Henley
8.
 Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) Jack Wade
9.
 Mars Attacks! (1996) Glenn Norris
10.
 Underneath, The (1995) Clay Hinkle
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
After college, served in the US Army
:
Upon completing military service, moved to NYC to pursue an acting career
1963:
Broadway debut, "Marathon 33"
1967:
Film acting debut as Fixer in "Cool Hand Luke"
1971:
TV-movie debut, "Mongo's Back in Town"; played professional gunman (Mongo) in cast that included Telly Savalas, Sally Field and Martin Sheen
1972:
Played Steve McQueen's little brother in Sam Peckinpah's quiet "Junior Bonner"
1973:
Starred as real-life hero Sheriff Buford Pusser in the action melodrama "Walking Tall"
1975:
Reunited with "Walking Tall" director Phil Karlson and writer Mort Briskin for the even more venal "Framed"
1978:
First played Eischied, a NYC chief of detectives, in the miniseries "To Kill a Cop" (NBC)
1979:
Starred in the NBC series "Eischied", a spin-off from "To Kill a Cop"
1984:
Portrayed a fictionalized version of Babe Ruth called The Whammer who was struck out by the young Roy Hobbs (Robert Redford) in "The Natural"
1985:
Starred opposite Chevy Chase as a crooked sheriff of an L.A. beach community in "Fletch"
1986:
Delivered an accclaimed performance in the BBC miniseries "Edge of Darkness"
1991:
Portrayed Kersek, the private investigator hired by Sam Bowden to protect his family, in the Martin Scorsese remake "Cape Fear"
1992:
Played Senator Joe McCarthy in the HBO biopic "Citizen Cohn"
1996:
Cast as a trailer-trash dad in Tim Burton's "Mars Attacks!"
1997:
Acted the part of Big Jim Folsom in TNT miniseries "George Wallace", starring Gary Sinese in title role
2005:
Cast as Governor Jim Applewhite in the big-screen version of "The Dukes of Hazzard" based on the 1970's hit show
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Actors Studio: New York , New York -
University of North Texas: Denton , Texas - 1958

Notes

"Looking at my career, it seems that the good guys make more money, but the bad guys have all the fun. I guess you try to do a little of both." --Joe Don Baker quoted in the press material for "Getting Even" (1986)

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Maria Dolores Rivero-Torres. Married on December 25, 1969; divorced.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Doyle Charles Baker.
mother:
Edna Baker.

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