Kenneth Baker (19*-2011) Kenneth “Ken” Baker. British born actor who became a respected and much sought-after actor in stage, film and radio in South Africa.
Born in a small village in Essex, UK, near Great Dunmow, he became involved in theatricals at Dunmow High School and became a choir boy in the local church choir. His wartime army career consisted of six years in the Royal Army Service Corps and, after his basic training, he served two years in Northern Ireland where he was able to appear in and produce many army unit shows. After the war, he settled in Richmond, Surrey, where he was accepted as a student at the Richmond Theatre after appearing in a number of prestigious amateur plays. His first professional appearance was in Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion in 1947 and after that, became involved in weekly repertory before working in many of the major theatres in the UK.
With the closure of many theatres and the prevailing political unrest at the time, Ken decided to return to the UK in 1986 where he continued to pursue theatrical activities.
In 1958 he received an invitation to appear in a production of The Long and the Short and the Tall in Johannesburg. He was a founder member of the then new Lyric Theatre (now defunct) in Durban where, after a year of fortnightly repertory, he took over the position of Director of Productions. However, ill-health dictated that he leave Natal and its humidity and return to Johannesburg. He was to return to Durban many times to appear in productions for the Natal Performing Arts Council (now the Playhouse Company) where he was invariably prevailed upon to appear in locally produced radio plays. Also involved with the South African Film and Theatre Union, fighting hard for racial equality.
Contribution to SA theatre, film, media and/or performance
His South African performances include Reluctant Heroes, Uproar in the House (The Academy Theatre of Laughter , 1967), The Lionel Touch (The Academy Theatre of Laughter, 1971), Child's Play and and Black Comedy for PACT, How the Other Half Loves (The Market Theatre, 1979), Stage Struck (Toerien-Firth, 1980), Spider's Web (Andre Huguenet Theatre, 1981) and Noises Off (1983)- for Pieter Toerien.
Also performed in many films and TV. On radio he made a name for himself playing Dr Watson to Langford’s Sherlock Holmes in the popular SABC series of 1967.
SACD 1973, 1974
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