Bob Baker (actor)

Bob Baker (born Stanley Leland Weed,[1] November 8, 1910 – August 29, 1975) was a singer who had several starring roles as a singing cowboy in the late 1930s.

Bob Baker
Bob Baker singing cowboy.jpg
Born
Stanley Leland Weed

(1910-11-08)8 November 1910
Died29 August 1975(1975-08-29) (aged 64)
NationalityAmerican
OccupationActor
Known forSinging cowboy

Early yearsEdit

The son of Guy Weed and Ethel Leland Weed,[2] Baker was born in Forest City, Iowa. He spent part of his childhood and youth in Colorado and Arizona.[3][full citation needed] Unlike most movie cowboys, Baker really worked as a cowboy in his youth, and was a rodeo champion when he was sixteen.[4] He joined the army at the age of 18, where he learned to play the guitar.[3]

Early careerEdit

Baker began singing professionally at the age of twenty, for the KTSM radio station in El Paso, Texas.[4] In Chicago he spent several months with WLS.[5] As a professional rodeo roper and rider, he competed in Cheyenne, Wyoming, Pendleton, Oregon, and Salinas, California, among other sites.[6]

In 1935 he married Evelyn. They were to have four children.[3]

Film careerEdit

Baker won a Universal Studios screen test in 1937 in competition against Leonard Slye (Roy Rogers), and became the studio's lead singing cowboy.[7] Known as "Tumbleweed" Baker,[1] he starred in a dozen pictures before suffering an injury and being demoted to secondary roles. He performed many of his own stunts.[7] Baker starred in the "B" western Courage of the West (1937) with Lois January. She said, "Bob Baker was too pretty! He was nice, but didn't get friendly. He didn't want me to sing a song in his picture. That business is full of jealousy...".[8] This movie, his first, was thought to be his best. The others suffered from predictable plots and poor scripts.[4]

Fuzzy Knight worked with Baker as a sidekick on his first four films. Starting with The Last Stand (1938) Baker rode Apache, a pinto he had bought in Arizona. A well-trained horse, Apache tolerated his signature trick of vaulting over the horse's rear into the saddle.[4] Between work on the sets, Baker had to tour and perform at movie theatres, in part to promote the pictures and in part to earn extra income.[9] Bob Baker accompanied his singing with a Gibson Advanced Jumbo guitar.[10] He did not make any recordings.[5]

In a poll of 1939, Baker was rated tenth in a list of moneymaking Western stars.[3] However, he did not have the star quality of a performer like Gene Autry.[11] In 1939 he was partnered with Johnny Mack Brown and Fuzzy Knight in a series of movies where Brown clearly emerged as the star. His career went downhill, and he began playing in secondary roles, then in bit parts.[3]

In the 1940s, Baker's work in films was limited to performing stunts in films that included Gung Ho (1943), Phantom Lady, (1944), and Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves (1944).[7]

Later yearsEdit

After leaving the movie industry Baker served again in the army in World War II.[4] He then became a member of the police force of Flagstaff, Arizona.[5] He once again served in the US Army during the Korean War.[3] He later ran a dude ranch and became an expert in leather crafts.[5]

DeathEdit

Baker had a series of heart attacks toward the end of his life and died of a stroke on August 29, 1975,[7] in Prescott, Arizona. He was buried at the Clear Creek Cemetery in Camp Verde, Arizona.[citation needed]

FilmsEdit

Year Star? Title Role Notes
1937 * Courage of the West Jack Saunders
1937 * The Singing Outlaw Bob 'Scrap' Gordon
1938 * Border Wolves Rusty Reynolds
1938 The Last Stand Tip Douglas posing as the Laredo Kid
1938 * Western Trails Bob Mason
1938 * Outlaw Express Captain Bob Bradley
1938 * Black Bandit Sheriff Bob Ramsay / Don Ramsay
1938 * Guilty Trails Bob Higgins
1938 * Prairie Justice U.S. Marshal Bob Randall, aka Bob Smith
1938 * Ghost Town Riders Bob Martin
1939 * Honor of the West Sheriff Bob Barrett
1939 * The Phantom Stage Bob Carson
1939 * Desperate Trails Clem Waters
1939 Oklahoma Frontier Tom Rankin
1939 Chip of the Flying U Dusty
1940 West of Carson City Nevada
1940 Riders of Pasco Basin Bruce Moore
1940 Bad Man from Red Butte Gabriel 'Gabby' Hornsby
1941 Along the Rio Grande Deputy Bob Uncredited
1941 Arizona Bound Marshal Bat Madison Uncredited
1942 Ride 'Em Cowboy Ranch Cowhand Driving Bus Uncredited
1942 Overland Mail Bill Cody [Chs.1,14]
1943 Wild Horse Stampede Marshal Bob Tyler
1944 Oklahoma Raiders Cowhand in Saloon / Lyncher with Rope Uncredited
1944 Mystery Man Bar 20 Cowhand Uncredited, (final film role)

ReferencesEdit

Citations

  1. ^ a b Petroski, William (June 17, 2014). "Lights! Camera! Historical exhibition!". The Des Moines Register. Iowa, Des Moines. p. 10 A. Retrieved September 21, 2019 – via Newspapers.com. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ "Publisher's Perspective – Volume 5, Issue 1". Iowa History Journal. Iowa Publishing Corp. Archived from the original on September 21, 2019. Retrieved September 21, 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ a b c d e f Brumburgh 2012.
  4. ^ a b c d e Driscoll 2008, p. 42.
  5. ^ a b c d Tribe 2006, p. 62.
  6. ^ "Bob Baker Here in Person April 19". The Daily Times-News. North Carolina, Burlington. April 17, 1939. p. 10. Retrieved September 21, 2019 – via Newspapers.com. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. ^ a b c d Freese, Gene Scott (2014). Hollywood Stunt Performers, 1910s–1970s: A Biographical Dictionary, 2d ed. McFarland. ISBN 9781476614700. Retrieved September 21, 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^ Fitzgerald & Magers 2009, p. 106.
  9. ^ Stanfield 2002, p. 91.
  10. ^ Aldrich, Dregni & Murray 2003, p. 51.
  11. ^ Stanfield 2002, p. 98.

Sources

External linksEdit