American-born actor Joe Don Baker has come to be known for playing eccentric and distinctive characters in films and television shows. Earlier on in his career, he became famous for playing tough characters, usually as a police officer or a criminal, in action films like Guns of the Magnificent Seven, Wild Rovers, Charley Varrick, Walking Tall and Mitchell.
At the peak of his career, Baker appeared in three James Bond films; as a villain in The Living Daylights and as a CIA agent in GoldenEye and Tomorrow Never Dies. This Hollywood icon indeed has several iconic roles to show for his nearly 5-decade acting career. His ability to switch up from villain to hero between one film and the other has made him a pro in the action movies. He equally recorded some major film credits in the comedy films including the 2005 box-office hit The Dukes of Hazzard.
Age – Who Is Joe Don Baker?
Joe Don Baker was born in Groesbeck, Texas on February 12, 1936. His parents were Edna (née McDonald) and Doyle Charles Baker. He graduated from the University of North Texas in 1958 where he majored in business. After serving briefly in the US Army, he trained at the Actors Studio in New York City before beginning his acting career on stage.
By the mid-1960s, Baker ventured into screen acting appearing in guest roles in TV series like Honey West (1965), The Big Valley (1969) and Gunsmoke (1969). Standing at a towering height of 6 feet 2½ inches, he was a perfect fit for western films and it did not take long for him to get cast in such movies as Guns of the Magnificent Seven (1969), Wild Rovers (1971) and Junior Bonner (1972).
Joe Don Baker got his breakthrough when he was cast as the lead star of the action biopic Walking Tall (1973). His portrayal of the lead character Sheriff Buford Pusser earned him praise from critics and the movie was also a huge box-office success. He further solidified his profile when he played the supporting role of a sadistic hitman Molly in the crime thriller Charley Varrick (1973). Baker also appeared in the crime film The Outfit (1973) as well as other action flicks like Framed (1975), Mitchell (1975) and Speedtrap (1977) all of which strengthened his “tough guy” on-screen persona. He also appeared in the adventure comedy film Checkered Flag or Crash (1977).
While his movie credits soared, Baker was cast as Chief of Detectives Earl Eischied, the titular character of the crime series Eischied (1979-80). He received an astonishing $1 million paycheck for his role but the series lasted for just one season. He returned to the big screen with roles in the comedy films Wacko (1982), Joysticks (1983) and Fletch (1985) as well as the Babe Ruth-inspired sports film The Natural (1984). The talented actor starred in the BBC serial Edge of Darkness (1985) and his performance earned him a nomination for “Best Actor” at the 1986 British Academy Television Awards.
He appeared as a vicious arms dealer in the James Bond film The Living Daylights (1987). He later played the role of CIA agent Jack Wade in two other Bond films GoldenEye (1995) and Tomorrow Never Dies (1997). Baker also appeared in the highly successful thriller movie Cape Fear (1991) which was headlined by Robert De Niro and in the Sci-Fi action flick Congo (1995). More recently, he’s starred in films like Joe Dirt (2001), The Dukes of Hazzard (2005) and Strange Wilderness (2008). He was also on the star-studded cast of the coming-of-age movie Mud (2012) alongside Matthew McConaughey,
Reese Witherspoon and Sam Shepard.
Though his acting career has slowed down in recent years, Joe Don Baker still has a huge financial base gotten from his peak years. He played several lucrative roles between the 1970s and the 1990s including the highly successful James Bond film series. The iconic Hollywood star has an estimated net worth of $3 million.
His Wife and Family
Joe Don Baker has kept his personal life away from the public eye in recent times; thus making it is hard to know if he is married at the moment. However, he is known to have been married in the past to a woman named Maria Dolores Rivero-Torres. The duo tied the knot on December 25, 1969, and their union lasted for a little over a decade. They eventually parted ways and their divorce was finalized in 1980. Since, then the actor has kept his personal life, relationships, and affairs away from the media eye. It is unclear if Baker had any child with his ex-wife or with any other partner.
Is He Still Alive?
Joe Don Baker is still very much alive and well. Now in his 80s, the Hollywood star rarely makes public appearances. He had his last known acting role back in 2012 when he featured in the star-studded drama film Mud and has remained on a career hiatus ever since.