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Blanche Baker
Blanche Baker.jpg
Blanche Baker in a 2007 performance of The Vietnamization of New Jersey
Blanche Garfein

(1956-12-20) December 20, 1956 (age 62)
Years active1978–present
Bruce Van Dusen (m. 1983–2002)

Mark Magill (m. 2003)
ChildrenZane Van Dusen
Dara Van Dusen (born 1986)
Wynn Van Dusen
James Magill
RelativesCarroll Baker (mother)
Jack Garfein (father)

Blanche Baker (born December 20, 1956) is an American actress and filmmaker. She won an Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her work in the television mini-series Holocaust. Baker is known for her role as Ginny Baker in Sixteen Candles; she also starred in the title role of Lolita on Broadway. In 2012, she produced and starred in a film about Ruth Madoff titled Ruth Madoff Occupies Wall Street.[1]

Early life and education

Born Blanche Garfein in New York City, she is the daughter of actress Carroll Baker and director Jack Garfein. Her father is a Jew from Carpathian Ruthenia (born in Mukachevo), who survived the Holocaust; and her mother converted to Judaism. She also has a younger brother, Herschel Garfein. She spent her early life in Italy, where her mother had established a film career after leaving Hollywood in the mid-1960s. Baker attended Wellesley College from 1974 to 1976,[2] and later studied acting at the Herbert Berghof Studio[3], the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute, and the American School in London.[4]



Blanche Baker made her television debut playing the character Anna Weiss in the miniseries Holocaust. (Her father Jack Garfein was a Holocaust survivor who had been imprisoned in Auschwitz.) She won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Single Performance by a Supporting Actress in a Comedy or Drama Series in 1978 for her performance.

She has subsequently appeared in the TV movies Mary and Joseph: A Story of Faith (1979) as Mary, The Day the Bubble Burst (1982), The Awakening of Candra (1983) as Candra Torres, Embassy (1985), Nobody's Child (1986), and Taking Chance (2009). She also has appeared on many TV series.


In 1980-81, she originated the lead role in Edward Albee's stage adaptation of Vladimir Nabokov's novel Lolita. During out-of-town tryouts and in New York, the play was picketed by feminists, including Women Against Pornography, who were outraged by the theme of pedophilia.[5]

The troubled production opened on Broadway on March 19, 1981, after 31 previews and closed after only 12 performances.[6] Frank Rich of The New York Times gave the play a bad review, terming it "the kind of embarrassment that audiences do not quickly forget or forgive." Baker was mentioned by Rich in only one line. "In the title role, here a minor figure, the 24-year-old Miss Baker does a clever job of impersonating the downy nymphet; she deserves a more substantial stage vehicle soon."[7]

People Magazine called Albee's Lolita "Broadway's Bomb of the Year" in an April 16, 1981, story.[8] Baker was the real subject of the article, and People writer Mark Donovan said "the critics were almost unanimous on one point: Blanche Baker was an ingenue whose time had come," citing reviews of critics that had called her "breathtaking" and "beguiling."

Baker originated the role of Shelby in the first production of Steel Magnolias Off-Broadway in 1987.[9]


Baker made her movie debut in The Seduction of Joe Tynan (1979). Other film appearances include Sixteen Candles (1984), Cold Feet (1984) and Taking Chance (2009).


Year Title Role Notes
1979 French Postcards Laura
1979 The Seduction of Joe Tynan Janet
1982 The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet Juliet
1983 Cold Feet Leslie Christo
1984 Sixteen Candles Ginny
1986 Raw Deal Amy Kaminski
1988 Shakedown Gail Feinberger
1988 Bum Rap Lisa DuSoir
1990 The Handmaid's Tale Ofglen
1991 Livin' Large Kate Penndragin
1994 Dead Funny Barbara
2006 Underdogs Marie
2006 The Rehearsal Marie
2007 The Girl Next Door Ruth Chandler
2008 3rd of July Mrs. Shaw
2008 Jersey Justice Polly O'Bannon
2012 Hypothermia Hellen Pelletier
2014 Wishin' and Hopin' Sister Filomena TV Movie
Year Title Role Notes
1979 Holocaust Anna Weiss Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie
1979 Mary and Joseph: A Story of Faith Mary
1981 The Awakening of Candra Candra Torres
1982 The Day the Bubble Burst Joan Slezsak
1985 The Equalizer Allison Webster Episode: "Desperately"
1985 Embassy Megan Hillyer
1986 Nobody's Child Shari
1987 Spenser: For Hire Carolyn Tomlinson Episode: "Personal Demons"
1991 The Trials of Rosie O'Neill Episode: "Domestic Silence"
1991 Davis Rules Episode: "Everybody Comes to Nick's"
1992 In the Heat of the Night Jenny Sawyer Episode: "Love, Honor & Obey"
1992 Law & Order Lucy Neven Episode: "Star Struck"
1994 Clarissa Explains It All Chelsea Chipley Episode: "Janet and Clarissa, Inc."
2005 Law & Order: Criminal Intent Miriam Engles Episode: "Diamond Dogs"
2009 Taking Chance Chris Phelps
2013 The Chris Gethard Show Herself Episode: "#119: Scare the Shit Out of Bethany"


  1. ^
  2. ^ Lynch, Jason. "Her Bronze Mettle: Following Her Turn in Sixteen Candles, Blanche Baker Sculpted a Life Beyond Hollywood". People Magazine. March 4, 2002. Retrieved 6 May 2015. "Baker returned to the U.S. and enrolled at Wellesley College in 1974 but got the acting bug and dropped out two years later to study both art and acting in New York City."
  3. ^ HB Studio Alumni
  4. ^ "'Mary and Joseph' Filming". The Kentucky New Era. July 24, 1979. Retrieved 6 May 2015.
  5. ^ Devries, Hillary. "Protesters to picket 'Lolita'". Christian Science Monitor. Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 29 December 2011.
  6. ^ "Lolita". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 29 December 2011.
  7. ^ Rich, Frank. "STAGE: ALBEE'S ADAPTATION OF 'LOLITA' OPENS". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 December 2011.
  8. ^ Donovan, Mark. "Lolita, Broadway's Bomb of the Year, Detonates Edward Albee, Bemuses Donald Sutherland and Illuminates a Lovely Survivor, Blanche Baker". Time-Life. Retrieved 29 December 2011.
  9. ^

External links

This page was last edited on 17 January 2019, at 21:07
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