Diane Baker

Diane Carol Baker (born February 25, 1938) is an American actress, producer and educator who has appeared in motion pictures and on television since 1959.

Diane Baker
Guest starring in The Virginian, 1969
Diane Carol Baker

(1938-02-25) February 25, 1938
OccupationActress, producer
Years active1959–present

Early life

Baker was born in Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital in Hollywood, raised in North Hollywood and Studio City, California. She is the daughter of Dorothy Helen Harrington, who had appeared in several early Marx Brothers movies, and automobile salesperson Clyde Lucius Baker. Baker has two younger sisters, Patricia and Cheryl.[1] At age 18, after graduating from Van Nuys High School in 1956, Baker moved to New York to study acting with Charles Conrad and ballet with Nina Fonaroff.


After securing a seven-year contract with 20th Century Fox in 1958, Baker made her film debut when she was chosen by director George Stevens to play Margot Frank in the 1959 motion picture The Diary of Anne Frank. In the same year, she starred in Journey to the Center of the Earth with James Mason and in The Best of Everything with Hope Lange and Joan Crawford.

Other Fox films in which Baker appeared include the assassination thriller Nine Hours to Rama, Hemingway's Adventures of a Young Man and The 300 Spartans. Her television work, which began in the 1960s, includes appearances on Follow the Sun, Bus Stop, Adventures in Paradise, The Lloyd Bridges Show, The Nurses, The Invaders (in the first episode), and two episodes of Route 66.

Finally out of her contract with Fox after starring in the fourth screen version of Grace Miller White's novel Tess of the Storm Country and The 300 Spartans (1962), Baker appeared in Stolen Hours, a 1963 remake of Dark Victory (Mirisch Corp. and United Artists), and, the same year, opposite Paul Newman and Elke Sommer in The Prize (MGM). From 1963 to 1966, Baker had a recurring role on the medical drama Dr. Kildare.

In 1964, she co-starred with Joan Crawford in both Strait-Jacket, William Castle's thriller about an axe murderess, and an unsold television pilot Royal Bay, released to theaters as Della. Alfred Hitchcock cast her in his film Marnie (1964) as Lil Mainwaring, the sister-in-law of Mark Rutland (Sean Connery). She co-starred with Gregory Peck and Walter Matthau in the thriller Mirage (1965), directed by Edward Dmytryk, and in Krakatoa, East of Java (1969) with Maximilian Schell. In the TV movie Western The Dangerous Days of Kiowa Jones (1966), she played the role of a woman who falls in love with a drifter (Robert Horton) who is deputized by a dying marshal to take two killers (one of whom is played by Sal Mineo) to a distant jail.

In August 1967, Baker had the distinction of playing David Janssen's love interest in the two-part finale of The Fugitive, which became the most-watched show in the history of episodic television up until that time. In 1968, she co-starred with Dean Jones in the Disney film The Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit. In January 1970, she had the lead guest-starring female role as Princess Francesca in the only three-episode mission of Mission: Impossible. In 1973, Baker co-starred in ABC sitcom Here We Go Again. The series was canceled after one season. In 1976, she played the frequently drunken daughter of the title character of the Columbo episode "Last Salute to the Commodore", which departed from the usual show format whereby the viewer knows very early who the murderer is.

In the decades after Mirage, she appeared frequently on television and began producing films, including the drama film Never Never Land (1980) and the miniseries A Woman of Substance (1984), in which she played Laura. She reemerged on the big screen in The Silence of the Lambs (1991) as Senator Ruth Martin ("Love your suit," Hannibal Lecter memorably said to her). Baker also appeared in the films The Joy Luck Club, The Cable Guy, The Net and A Mighty Wind. She guest-starred in four episodes of House in 2005, 2008 and twice in 2012 as Blythe House, the mother of the title character.

Baker spent more than a decade teaching acting at the Academy of Art University, the nation's largest accredited private art and design school, in San Francisco. She was formerly the Executive Director of the School of Motion Pictures-Television and the School of Acting.[2][3]

Selected TV and filmography

Year Title Role Notes
1959 The Diary of Anne Frank Margot Frank
Journey to the Center of the Earth Jenny Lindenbrook
The Best of Everything April Morrison
Playhouse 90 Shelia Cass Episode: "In Lonely Expectation"
1960 The DuPont Show of the Month Nurse Leora Tozer Episode: "Arrowsmith"
The Wizard of Baghdad Princess Yasmin
Tess of the Storm Country Tess MacLean
1961 Follow the Sun Helen Henderson Episode: "Journey Into Darkness"
Adventures in Paradise Veronica Sanders Episode: "Vendetta"
1962 Hemingway's Adventures of a Young Man Carolyn
The 300 Spartans Ellas
1963 The Doctors and the Nurses Marjorie Ford Episode: "Field of Battle"
Nine Hours to Rama Sheila
The Prize Emily Stratman
Stolen Hours Ellen
Mr. Novak Mrs. Chase Episode: "A Feeling for Friday"
Route 66 Elisa Episode: "The Cruelest Sea of All"
Route 66 Marie Duplessis Episode: "Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are!"
1964 Strait-Jacket Carol Harbin
Marnie Lil Mainwaring
Della Jenny Chappell
Wagon Train Alice Whitetree Episode: "The Alice Whitetree Story"
The Ghost of Sierra de Cobre Vivia Mandour Television movie
1965 Mirage Shela
Inherit the Wind Rachel Brown Television movie
The Big Valley Hester Episode: "By Fires Unseen"
1966 The Virginian Linda Valence Episode: "Linda"
Sands of Beersheba Susan Alternative title: Thunder Over Israel
Hawk Mary Wheelis Episode: "The Longleat Chronicles"
The Dangerous Days of Kiowa Jones Amilia Rathmore Television movie
1967 The Fugitive Jean Carlisle Episodes: "The Judgement" (Parts 1 & 2)
The Invaders Kathy Adams Episode: "Beachhead"
Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre Laney Episode: "Free of Charge"
1968 The Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit Suzie "S.J." Clemens
1969 Krakatoa, East of Java Laura Travis
Trial Run Carole Trenet Television movie
The Virginian Julie Oakes Episode: "A Love to Remember"
The Name of the Game Elaine Brennan Episode: "Give Till It Hurts"
The D.A.: Murder One Mary Brokaw Television movie
1970 The Interns Sheila Carmichael Episode: "The Quality of Mercy"
The Old Man Who Cried Wolf Peggy Pulska Television movie
1971 The Virginian Nan Allen Episode: "Nan Allen"
Sarge Carol Swanson Episode: "The Badge or the Cross"
Congratulations, It's a Boy! Edye Television movie
A Little Game Elaine Hamilton Television movie
Bonanza Norma O'Casey Episode: "Cassie"
Night Gallery Lynn Alcott Segment: "They're Tearing Down Tim Riley's Bar"
1972 Killer by Night Tracey Morrow Television movie
Love, American Style Wendy Segment: "Love and the Small Wedding"
1973 Love Story Angie Burnett Episode: "The Youngest Lovers"
Here We Go Again Susan Evans 13 episodes
1974 A Tree Grows in Brooklyn Katie Nolan Television movie
Medical Center Three-Cornered Cage Episode: "Three-Cornered Cage"
The ABC Afternoon Playbreak Diana Episode: "Can I Save My Children?"
1975 Lucas Tanner Jessica Atkins Episode: "Why Not a Happy Ending?"
Marcus Welby, M.D. Sister Anne Episode: "The Medea Factor"
The Streets of San Francisco Inspector Irene Martin Episode: "The Cat's Paw"
The Dream Makers Mary Stone Television movie
1976 Police Woman Cynthia Lambert Episode: "The Pawn Shop"
Baker's Hawk Jenny Baker
Columbo Joanna Clay Episode: "Last Salute to the Commodore"
1977 Barnaby Jones Pat Halston Episode: "The Wife Beater"
Kojak Irene Van Patten 2 episodes
1978 The Love Boat Ruth Newman Episode: "Pacific Princess Overtures..."
ABC Afterschool Special Carrie Williams Episode: "One of a Kind"
1980 The Pilot Pat Simpson
Fugitive Family Ellen 'Ellie' Roberts Television movie
1981 Trapper John, M.D. Mrs. Forsyte Episode: "The Albatross"
1982 The Blue and the Gray Evelyn Hale Miniseries
1983 Fantasy Island Fran Woods Episode: "Saturday's Child..."
1985 A Woman of Substance Laura O'Neill Miniseries
1987 CBS Schoolbreak Special Helen Welker-Summers Episode: "Little Miss Perfect"
1987 Murder, She Wrote Eleanor Thane Episode: "Simon Says, Color Me Dead"
1990 The Closer Beatrice Grant
1990 Murder, She Wrote Anna Louisa Barlow Episode: "The Great Twain Robbery"
1991 The Silence of the Lambs Senator Ruth Martin
The Haunted Lorraine Warren Television movie
1992 Mann & Machine Delores Peterson Episode: "Water, Water Everywhere"
Perry Mason: The Case of the Heartbroken Bride Laura Parris Television movie
Murder, She Wrote Mary Forsythe Episode: "A Christmas Secret"
1993 Twenty Bucks Ruth Adams
The Joy Luck Club Mrs. Jordan
1994 Imaginary Crimes Abigail Tate
1995 A Walton Wedding Charlotte Gilchrist Television movie
Chicago Hope Ellen Rolston Episode: "Rise from the Dead"
The Net Mrs. Bennett
1996 The Cable Guy Mrs. Kovacs
Courage Under Fire Louise Boylar
1997 Murder at 1600 Kitty Neil
1998 About Sarah Lila Hollingsworth Television movie
The Nanny Roberta Episode: "Sara's Parents"
2000 ER Louise Duffy Episode: "The Domino Heart"
Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis Rose Kennedy Television movie
2001 Harrison's Flowers Mary Francis
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Margo Nelson Episode: "Inheritance"
2002 First Monday Arlene Braken 3 episodes
On the Roof Mrs. Arnott
2003 Dragnet Rebecca Barton Episode: "The Brass Ring"
A Mighty Wind Supreme Folk Defense Lawyer
2005 The Keeper: The Legend of Omar Khayyam Miss Taylor Alternative title: Empire Rising
Unscripted Diane 5 episodes
2008 Harrison Montgomery Mrs. Cutsworth
2010 Lie to Me Judge Quinn Episode: "The Whole Truth"
2012 Hemingway & Gellhorn Mrs. Gellhorn
2013 The Surrogate Louise Television movie

Awards and nominations

Golden Globe Awards

Year Category Nominated work Result
1960 Most Promising Newcomer – Female The Diary of Anne Frank Nominated
1964 Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture The Prize Nominated

Primetime Emmy Award

Year Category Nominated work Result
1966 Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Inherit the Wind Nominated
1985 Outstanding Limited Series A Woman of Substance Nominated

Daytime Emmy Award

Year Category Nominated work Result
1975 Outstanding Actress in a Daytime Drama Special The ABC Afternoon Playbreak: "Can I Save My Children?" Nominated


  1. Blair, Doniphan (August 13, 2010). "Diane Baker: Creating Films, Schools, and Communities". CineSOURCE Magazine.
  2. Stein, Ruthe (August 27, 2004). "'Extraordinary adventure' lures ex-ingenue". San Francisco Chronicle.
  3. "Academy of Art University School of Acting – Faculty". Academy of Art University. Archived from the original on December 21, 2014. Retrieved November 2, 2014.
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