Friday, February 01, 2013

Art Baker's Notebook

Baker was a bit of a late starter in broadcasting. At almost 40 years old in 1936 he debuted in radio, a year later he started acting in bit parts. Of the two, Art Baker is better known as an actor. Over his career he appeared in over 40 films, usually in a double breasted suit portraying an executive, senator, doctor or tycoon. His job was to wear nice suits, be tall and have white hair. He was typecast but there were plenty of those roles to fill.  Before all that he was a traveling evangelist, a refrigerator salesman and a graveyard tour guide. that acting resume almost makes his time in radio a side note. More here.

In 1936 he began announcing for the historical drama series "Tapestries of Life." Then starting in 1938, he began "Art Baker's Notebook" on Los Angeles' KFI-AM, which lasted for two decades. The 15 minute program ran daily. This show is usually described as a mix of philosophical musings and news. It was vague and meandering, I hazard to nail it down more than that. But it stuck, and it continued to air for longer than anyone could have expected. White King Soap sponsored his Notebook Program from 1938 - 1958. It was syndicated by NBC until 1950 when it was picked up by ABC through 1958.

On April 18th 1945 he celebrated his 2,000th consecutive daily broadcast. Radio Daily noted at that time he was heard 22 times a week between his two programs 'Never too Old" on Mutual-Don Lee and  "Art Baker's Notebook" on KFI.

In 1942 he became the host of the radio game show "People Are Funny" on NBC. He wasn't there long. In October of 1943, Baker was replaced by Art Linkletter. But Baker was building a resume on hosting game shows. So it was no surprise that he crossed over to television to host "You Asked for It" which was at least initially titled The Art Baker Show. It ran from 1950 through 1959.

But that was about it. Jack Smith hosted the last season f "You Asked for It, " and Baker retreated from daily broadcasts of both the TV and radio variety. But he continued to do films. He was even still acting in 1966 at the age of 68 when he died. Art Baker died of a heart attack in a bank in L.A. in 1966.