Thursday, March 3, 2011

Heeeeeere's Steve Baker!

Heeeeeere's Steve Baker!
(reprinted from my old website, which is why it's not in the 'first person')
Television has been an important part of Steve Baker's career. It began back in the early 1960's and continued onward into the 1990's. Art Linkletter, famous for his show in which kids said the darndest things, had a show for a while called, House Party. He invited Steve to be a guest. On the show, Steve presented his straight jacket escape and his own version of the mail bag escape before a live audience. (see photo)
Remember Mike Douglas? Steve was a guest on his show as well. He presented his French Transport Chain escape with Mike and another guest watching closely. At the conclusion of the routine, Mike Douglas ends up chained together with the other guest. It was a great comedy escape and served Steve well over the years.
Steve had a reputation not just as an escape artist, but also as a first class magician. He started his career performing as the world's most neurotic magician. On occasion, talk shows would contact Steve and ask if he could do a little magic as well. This happened one night when he got a last minute call from the Tonight Show. David Brenner was guest hosting and they wanted Steve to present his challenge 4 Ace routine over a glass table. It stunned everyone and Brenner was instantly a fan.
In the late 70's Steve was invited to be a guest on the Dinah Show with Dinah Shore. This was another example of a show that wanted Steve to do a little magic. He began his set with his Straight jacket escape which was well received. Next, Dinah was going to sing the song, "It's Magic". The producer wanted Steve to do a little magic while Dinah sang. The decided upon a dove appearance, then later Steve would make the Dove vanish. It did not go as planned, and only Steve can properly relate that story! Check out Steve's commentary below.
Who can forget Merv? Good ole Merv Griffen had Steve Baker on in the 1970's. Steve presented his Austrian Torture Rack before a live audience. It should be noted that on all of Steve's Talk Show appearances, he would present some stunt and that would be followed by an interview later in the show.
Mr. Escape didn't just appear on American Talk Shows, he was also a favorite world wide. In Canada, Alan Thicke had his own Talk Show. Same format as Mike Douglas and similar shows. This was before Alan Thicke came to the U.S. to star in his own sitcom. On that show, Steve was really allowed to shine. He did his thumb cuff routine, the straight jacket escape his 100 foot rope challenge and his Tug of War Rope Tie. Alan really got into what Steve was doing and added some very funny comedic moments along the way.
In Australia, Steve was booked to do the Don Lane Show. This was Australia's answer to the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. He presented his French Transport Chain routine which was one of his favorite personality routines. The audience loved it and in true Steve Baker fashion, he ended the routine by having the announcer and the host Don Lane chained together.
The Don Lane Show was also almost the end of Steve Baker's career. He was closing the show with his signature Water Torture Cell and something went terribly wrong. We'll save that story for another day though because it deserves much more space to tell.
The Mike Douglas Show, DINAH, The Tonight Show, House Party, The Don Lane Show and the Alan Thicke Show are just a few of the many talk shows Steve Baker appeared on.
He also appeared on countless Variety Shows, like Dick Clark LIVE Wednesday, That's Incredible, Games People Play, his own HBO Special and many other variety shows across the globe. In the future we will cover a series of appearances by Steve on a Venezuelan Variety TV Show.

    Commentary by Steve Baker I really only have on regret in all my years performing on television and that's that I didn't get to work with Johnny Carson. I was on the Tonight Show, but David Brenner was the guest host the night I was on. Because I used to do a lot of work over at the NBC Studios, I would run in to Johnny Carson all the time. He really enjoyed my work and always stopped to chat when we'd see each other in the hallway. I told Johnny, I'd love to present my Tug of War Rope Tie and let him bring in the two biggest guys he could find to tie me up. You should have seen the smile go across Johnny's face. He said to me jovially, "Steve, let's do it!" Unfortunately that day never came. Being on the Dinah Show was a hoot. First off, Dinah did not like my wife Julie at all. At one point, I thought a cat fight was going to break out between them. Dinah wanted to be the beauty on the set and no one else. The incident with Dinah Shore and the song, "It's Magic" is very funny. I told Dinah before they started filming what I was going to do. I was going to make a dove appear, vanish and then reappear. I warned her not to do anything to scare the birds. While she was singing the song, I produced my bird, 'Starbuck' and she gestured for me to put the bird on her hand while she sang. I did reluctantly do that. But she ended up scaring the bird, even though I warned her against that. The bird, in his already nervous state, crapped on Dinah's hand, it ran down her arm and the audience went in hysterics! She was livid, though she continued to sing. Being the true pro that I am, I magically produced a scarf so that she could wipe her arm clean. Side note to that story. Years later when my friend Dick Clark was doing his Bloopers and Practical Jokes Show, I called Dick and told him the story about Dinah. Search though they did, no footage of that episode remains. Too bad too. Steve

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