Veteran performer Ralph Baker, better known as horror movie host Deadly Earnest, has died, aged 80.
He died on July 14, having been diagnosed with myeloma in 2014.
Baker was an ATV-0 floor manager on The Go! Show, Kommotion and Uptight before he became a cult favourite playing Deadly Earnest from 1967 – 1973. The character, originated by TVW-7 Perth musical director Max Bostock, was also played by Ian Bannerman (Sydney), Shane Porteous (Brisbane), Roland Barnes (Perth) and Hedley Cullen (Adelaide).
On Aweful Movies with Deadly Earnest Baker introduced such films as The Beast with a Million Eyes, Mothra, The Thing from Another World!, Curse of the Demon, The Giant Claw, Revenge of the Zombies and seasons of The Outer Limits. He was aided by Claw (his hand), Hoof (his foot) and Igor.
The character drew such a following that children would go to bed early and set their alarms to wake up in time to see the ghoulish character reluctantly rising from his upright coffin.
Baker later joined Lorrie Gardner and her Gardner Puppet Theatre, and later and formed his own Pinnacle Puppet Theatre. At its peak in the 1980’s Gardner Puppet Theatre performed 500 shows a year with Baker as puppeteer, director, script editor and more. He was noted for his charm, wit, impromptu quips popularity with kids.
In 2011 he appeared at Horrorpalooza! and was a nominee for the 2020 Horror Host Hall of Fame.