Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Wanderers: Diane Baker

You know who that is in the photo? It's a young actress in 1958 named Diane Baker. When the photo was taken she had just signed her first movie contract and was on her way to ... well, not stardom but work, steady work. She's been in dozens of movies and even more television shows with the number of her IMDB credits stretching well past the century mark. But most people know her for one thing and one thing only and it's a bit part with only a few lines. And this is an actress who right out of the starting gate played Anne's sister Margot Frank in 1959's The Diary of Anne Frank so it's not like she hasn't had any decent roles. But in 1991 she played a character whose daughter was abducted and her one scene involved talking to another character who possibly had information on the abduction. At the end of that scene the character with the information says to her, " Oh, and Senator, just one more thing: love your suit!"

Yes, in 1991 she played Senator Ruth Martin in The Silence of the Lambs. She still works steadily today and as previously stated has acted in over a hundred movies and television shows but if you had to explain to someone who she was you'd probably have to say, "You know, the Senator in The Silence of the Lambs, the one whose daughter got abducted."

Diane Baker is what some people call a Journeyman Actor, taken from the Journeyman term applied to those with skill in a trade but no workshop, no permanent locale. They travel from job to job and earn a day's wages for a day's work. They're nomadic by nature and I like to romantically refer to them as wanderers. They're the kind actor that doesn't get the big parts, supporting or lead, but they're always there, always working, always ready to play whatever part they've been given and do a good job with it. And Baker's done more than most people realize.

Aside from The Diary of Anne Frank and The Silence of the Lambs she also costarred in Journey to the Center of the Earth with James Mason and Pat Boone. I don't care what anyone says about that movie either, I love it. Yeah, I know, the dinosaurs are lizards with plates glued to their back and Boone gets a little annoying with the concertina but I still have a great time watching it.

She also had a small part in Marnie and played the love interest of David Janssen in the final two episodes of The Fugitive, making her one of the most seen actresses in television history. But most bloggers would also know her as Joan Crawford's daughter in the 1964 William Castle directed Strait-Jacket. After that her movie career tapered off into primarily television work but it was steady work and up to an episode of House, MD just last year, she was still going at it. Her career started 50 years ago with a part in The Diary of Anne Frank and she's been working steadily ever since, always reliable, always professional, always on top of her craft.


This is the first post in the Wanderer series that will be included under the Acting category on the sidebar. After writing up Charles Bud Tingwell last week I decided I wanted to highlight more of the lesser known actors in the movies on this blog, the ones we all know but whose name might escape us.