Diane Baker (TCM Overview)
This tall, lean, delicate leading and secondary player made her screen debut as Margot, the older sister, in “The Diary of Anne Frank” (1959) and has gone on to play numerous wives and, in maturity, strong female characters. Diane Baker began her career soon after turning 20 in “Diary”. Also in 1959, she was seen in “Journey to the Center of the Earth” and “The Best of Everything”.
Baker was cast by Alfred Hitchcock in “Marnie” (1964), as Lil, the sister-in-law of Sean Connery who would like to be his next wife.
But by the late 60s, film roles became occasional for Baker, and she was often seen in small, albeit key, roles. In “Silence of the Lambs” (1991), she was Senator Ruth Martin seen pleading for the life of her abducted daughter in a noisy, flashy airport hanger. She was mother to Sandra Bullock in “The Net” (1995) and Matthew Broderick in Ben Stiller’s “The Cable Guy” (1996).
TV has often offered steadier employment. Baker has appeared in numerous anthology series since the early 60s and appeared in one of the first movies made for TV, the 1966 ABC Western, “The Dangerous Days of Kiowa Jones”. She made guest appearances in numerous episodics and appeared in additional TV-movies. Baker was Edward G. Robinson’s doubting daughter-in-law in “The Man Who Cried Wolf” (ABC, 1970) and was Katie Nolan, stalwart Irish-American mother, in the remake of “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” (NBC, 1974).
In “The Dream Makers” (NBC, 1975), she was the wife of college professor James Franciscus, watching as her husband becomes corrupted by the music industry. Her only regular series was the short-lived “Here We Go Again” (ABC, 1973) which featured two couples, in which each was formerly married to the gender opposite in the other couple. (Larry Hagman played Baker’s current spouse.)
Baker branched out of acting in 1971, producing the Indian-made documentary “Ashiana/The Nest”, which won the Special Jury Award at the 1971 Atlanta Film Festival. In 1976, she formed Artemis Productions and wrote the 1978 ABC Afterschool Special “One of a Kind”, in which she also starred. In 1986, she starred in the CBS Schoolbreak Special “Little Miss Perfect”, in which she played the overbearing mother of a bulimic teen.
The jewel in Baker’s production efforts came in 1985 when she produced the syndicated miniseries “A Woman of Substance”, based on the Barbara Taylor Bradford novel of society romance. Baker personally lured Deborah Kerr out of her Swiss retirement to star in the project.
The above TCM overview can also be accessed online here.