James H. “Jimmie” Baker, a television producer and director who won several local Emmy awards for his work in the 1950s and ’60s, died Feb. 3 in Santa Monica. He was 82.
Baker died at a convalescent hospital of a heart attack after suffering two strokes in January.
Oklahoma native started his showbiz career at age 15, tap dancing on a popular national radio program. During World War II he was drafted into the Army Air Corps, where he entertained the troops as part of a swing band called Corporal Jimmy Baker and the Men of the Air.
After the war, Baker returned to what is now Oklahoma State University to complete his degree, then moved to Hollywood to try show business.
He found work with ABC and was soon handling radio production chores. By 1950, he was producing and directing television programs, including included “Stars of Jazz,” a show devoted to jazz music, which won a local Emmy in 1956. A decade later, Baker brought former New York Giants and Los Angeles Rams football star Roosevelt Grier to television in a talk show format. Grier’s show won local Emmys in 1968 and 1969.
Baker is survived by his wife of 54 years, Sue Carlton Baker, and a son.
Donations can be made to the Chancel Choir at Beverly Hills Presbyterian Church.