Baird as strongman Ubaratutu in Thor and the Amazon Women (1963)
|Died||13 February 2005 (aged 73)|
|Occupation||Film, television and stage actor|
|Known for||Sapphire (1959)|
Baird was born in Georgetown, British Guiana, and educated in Canada and Britain. He was 17 years old when he joined his brother in London and, driven by an early interest in the cinema, began training at the YMCA. He made his first film appearance in 1955 as a boxer called Jamaica in Carol Reed's A Kid for Two Farthings. A year later, he appeared in the play Kismet at the Stoll Theatre in London, and had a role in Jean Genet's The Blacks in 1961 at the Royal Court Theatre.
His first lead role was as Atimbu, in the TV series White Hunter, in 1958. A series of stereotyped roles followed, in low-budget films featuring generic African or "jungle" themes. Baird's most high-profile role, however, came in Michael Relph and Basil Dearden's racial drama film Sapphire (1959). Prominent roles for black actors in Britain remained scarce, although he appeared in supporting roles in the TV series Danger Man and UFO (1970; as Lieutenant Bradley, a role that he left halfway through the series' run).
Baird's only true lead film role was in the 1968 Melvin Van Peebles drama The Story of a Three-Day Pass, in which he played an American soldier who falls in love with a white Parisian woman. Other roles included The Whisperers (1967),The Touchables (1968) (as a gay wrestler named Lillywhite), the horror film The Oblong Box (1969), and The Italian Job (1969) alongside his friend Michael Caine, whose wife, fellow Guyanese actor Shakira Baksh, Baird had appeared alongside in UFO.