Saturday, 10 March 2012

HARRY BAIRD - Big William

Harry Baird (born 12th May, 1931 - died 13th February, 2005) was a Guyana-born British actor who came to prominence in the 1960s.
Baird was born in Georgetown, British Guiana and was educated in Canada and England. He was given his film break in 1954 as a boxer named Jamaica in the Carol Reed film A Kid for Two Farthings (1955). A year later he appeared in Kismet at the Stoll Theatre in London, and although he had a role in Jean Genet's The Blacks in 1961, he subsequently appeared mostly in film and television. His first lead role was as Atimbu, in the White Hunter series in 1958. A series of stereotypical roles followed in low-budget films with generic African or 'jungle' themes.
His most high-profile role, however, was in the Michael Relph-Basil Dearden racial drama Sapphire (1959). Quality roles for a black actor in Britain remained scarce, although he appeared in supporting roles in the Patrick McGoohan vehicle Danger Man and the Gerry Anderson series UFO (1970) as Lieutenant Bradley, although he left the series midway through the run. Baird's only true lead role was in the 1968 Melvin Van Peebles drama The Story of a Three-Day Pass in which Baird played a French soldier who falls for a white Parisian woman. Based on Van Peebles own novel La Permission, it is arguably Baird's finest performance. Other roles included The Whisperers (1967) with Edith Evans, The Touchables (1968) (in which he played a gay wrestler named Lillywhite), the Hammer film The Oblong Box (1969) with Vincent Price, and The Italian Job (1969) alongside his friend Michael Caine, whose wife, fellow Guyanan Shakira Baksh, Baird had appeared alongside on UFO.
Baird was diagnosed with glaucoma in the 1970s, a condition which ultimately left him blind. He died of cancer in London in 2005.

My Harry Baird autograph display.

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