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Phil Baker (Phil Baker)

Phil Baker

Actor, Comedian, and Radio Emcee. He attended school in Boston, Massachusetts where his first stage appearance was in an amateur show. He began his career in vaudeville, playing the piano for violinist Ed Janis and age 19, he teamed with jazz violinist and radio personality Ben Bernie for the vaudeville act “Bernie and Baker.” It was originally a serious musical act with him on accordion and Bernie on violin but it eventually wound up with comic elements. During World War I he served in the US Navy. Shortly after World War I he ended his partnership with Bernie and started up with Sid Silvers.  In 1923 he appeared in an early DeForest Phonofilm short “A Musical Monologue” in which he played the accordion and sang and the following year he also appeared in a DeForest Phonofilm called “Ben Bernie and All the Lads” that featured Bernie’s band and pianist Oscar Levant.  In 1928 he decided to pursue a solo career.  His act included him singing, playing the accordion, telling jokes and being heckled by a planted audience member called Jojo, and with this act he played the Palace Theatre in Manhattan, New York City in 1930 and 1931.  He appeared in a number of Broadway musicals, including “Music Box Revue” (1921), “A Night in Spain” (1927), “Artists and Models” (1927), and “Calling All Stars” (1934).  In 1938 he starred in the movie “The Goldwyn Follies.”  In 1943 he appeared with Carmen Miranda in the musical “The Gang’s All Here.”  On radio, he starred in his own series, NBC’s “The Armour Jester.”  In February 1944 he appeared on “Duffy’s Tavern” and was the host of the popular CBS radio quiz show “Take It or Leave It” which later changed its title to “The $64 Question.”  On television he appeared briefly as the host of the 1951 CBS panel quiz show “Who’s Whose,” which was canceled after only one episode.  His other television appearances include “Texaco Star Theatre” and “Wonderful Town, U.S.A.”  In 1955 he retired from show business and moved to Denmark with his 3nd wife, Danish model Ingraad Erik.  He died from uremia at the age of 67.  He was also married to Canadian silent film actress Peggy Cartwright.  He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contributions to radio.  His likeness was drawn in caricature by Alex Gard for the walls of Sardi’s, the New York City Theater District restaurant and is now part of the collection of the New York Public Library. (bio by: William Bjornstad)

Born

  • August, 26, 1896
  • USA

Died

  • November, 11, 1963
  • Denmark

Cemetery

  • Holmens Cemetery
  • Hovedstaden
  • Denmark

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