Birthday: February 28, 1928
Died At Age: 48
Sun Sign: Pisces
Also Known As: Sir William Stanley Baker, William Stanley Baker
Born in: Ferndale, Glamorgan, Wales
Famous as: Actor
Spouse/Ex-: Ellen Martin (m. 1950 – his death. 1976)
Died on: June 28, 1976
place of death: Málaga, Andalusia
Cause of Death: Pneumonia
Who was Stanley Baker?
Sir William Stanley Baker was a Welsh actor and producer known for appearing in the movies ‘The Cruel Sea’, ‘Child in the House’, ‘A Hill in Korea’ and ‘Hell Drivers’. Born as the youngest of three kids to a coal miner, he grew up a self-proclaimed "wild child" who was interested in only boxing and football. His artistic talent was spotted by a local teacher who encouraged him to act. By the time Baker was 14, he was performing in school plays. He then went on to join the Birmingham Repertory Theatre. From 1946 to 1948, he served in the Royal Army Service Corps where he achieved the rank of sergeant. He later resumed acting. On a personal note, the actor married actress Ellen Martin and fathered four children. Baker was a heavy smoker and was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1976. Despite a surgery, the cancer spread to his bones which eventually led to his death the same year. He was 48 at that time.
Childhood & Early Life
William Stanley Baker was born on 28 February 1928 in Ferndale, Glamorgan, Wales, as the youngest of three siblings. His father was a coal miner. He had a happy childhood.
Baker’s artistic ability was discovered by his teacher Glynne Morse who encouraged him to pursue acting. At the age of 14, he was spotted by a casting director who recommended him a role in the 1943 war film ‘Undercover’. He caught the acting bug and decided to become a professional actor.
At one point, he also worked as an electrician. In 1944, he enrolled at Birmingham Repertory Theatre.
From 1946 to 1948, he worked as a sergeant in the Royal Army Service Corps and later resumed his acting career.
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In 1949, Stanley Baker was cast in a minor role in Terence Rattigan's play ‘Adventure Story’. This was followed by small roles in the films ‘All Over the Town’, ‘Lilli Marlene’, ‘The Rossiter Case’ and ‘Whispering Smith Hits London’.
He attracted attention when cast in the British-American war film ‘Captain Horatio Hornblower’. Released in 1951, it was the ninth most successful flick at the English box office that year.
In 1953, the actor had a small role in ‘The Red Beret’, another big hit in Britain. He was eventually cast as the main villain in the murder mystery ‘Hell Below Zero’ in 1954.
Baker got another break when he was approached to play Sir Mordred in the epic film ‘Knights of the Round Table’ which also featured Robert Taylor, Ava Gardner, Mel Ferrer, Anne Crawford and Felix Aylmer.
He did the TV movie ‘The Creature’ which was followed by ‘Jane Eyre’ and ‘A Death in the Family’ in the mid-1950s.
In 1956, he had his first leading role in a feature flick when he played Stephen Lorimer in Cy Endfield’s ‘Child in the House’, a story of a girl who tries to cope with her uncaring relatives. That year, he also played the villain in the racing car drama ‘Checkpoint’.
In the ensuing years, Baker appeared in a number of films including ‘Hell Drivers’, ‘Violent Playground,’ ‘Sea Fury,’ ‘The Angry Hills,’ and ‘Blind Date.’
He, alongside Cy Endfield, formed their own production company called Diamond Films. Their first project was ‘Zulu’ (1964) in which Baker played Lieutenant John Chard VC, one of his best-remembered roles. He later produced a TV movie titled ‘Who Has Seen the Wind?’ which was released in 1965.
He formed another production company named Oakhurst Productions alongside Michael Deeley. Their first collaborative big screen project was ‘Robbery’ in 1967.
Towards the end of his life, the actor took roles in television programs including BBC's Play of the Month series: ‘Robinson Crusoe’ and ‘The Changeling.’ His last acting role was in the miniseries ‘Orzowei, il figlio della savana’.
In the early 1950s, Baker read Nicholas Monsarrat’s novel ‘The Cruel Sea’ while in New York. Attracted to the idea of portraying the cowardly and unpleasant Bennett, he lobbied for the role in the 1953 screen version. The resulting film was the most successful film at the box office that year, bringing much recognition to the actor.
His biggest role in a purely English film was as a boxer named Mike Morgan in ‘The Good Die Young’. Released in 1954, the noir crime thriller movie was directed by Lewis Gilbert.
Family & Personal Life
In 1950, Stanley Baker married actress Ellen Martin. The marriage produced four kids: twins Martin and Sally, Glyn, and Adam, and lasted until his death.
In an interview right before his death, the actor admitted to being a gambler all his life. He also claimed that he always had enough to look after his family.
After being diagnosed with lung cancer in February 1976 and undergoing a surgery for the same, Baker died from pneumonia in Spain on 28 June 1976.
A rugby club in South Wales called Ferndale RFC established a tribute to him in the form of its "Sir Stanley Baker Lounge".