I thought I’d start the New Year by debunking the myth that I never met a sixties starlet I didn’t like. It was recently brought to my attention that Diane Baker is teaching acting classes at a university on the West Coast. Who is Diane Baker, you may ask? In my opinion, she was one of the least attractive and overrated actresses of that decade. You may remember her as the brunette contrast to blondes Elke Sommer in The Prize and Tippi Hedren in Marnie or from that camp fest, The Best of Everything with Joan Crawford. Other “classics” on her resume include Tess of the Storm Country, The Horse in the Grey Flannel Suit, and Congratulations, It’s a Boy!
I never could understand the appeal of Baker. To be fair she did give one sweet performance as Millie Perkins’ sister in The Diary of Anne Frank but she was mostly bland, icy, and/or sleep inducing playing opposite some big stars such as Paul Newman and Gregory Peck. And unlike her contemporaries Carol Lynley and Stella Stevens who we were rooting for to survive in The Poseidon Adventure, Baker couldn’t drum up an iota of symphony for her disaster movie characters. We were hoping she’d become lava food in Krakatoa, East of Java and were praying that her fellow lifeboat denizens would put us out of our misery and throw her overboard in The Last Survivors. Alas, she survived to the bitter end of both those flicks in the seventies. Thankfully her reign as leading lady didn’t last much longer.