Mark Linn-Baker

Active - 1979 - 2010  |   Born - Jun 17, 1954 in St. Louis, Missouri, United States  |   Genres - Comedy

Share on

Biography by Jason Buchanan

His role as the hapless "Cousin Larry" in the immortal 1980s sitcom Perfect Strangers forever earning him a secure position in the annals of television history, comic actor Mark Linn Baker may have since become notably less prominent on the world of television, though a key role in the 2001 television adaptation of Neil Simon's enduring Laughter on the 23rd Floor hinted at something of a comeback in the new millennium. Though Baker's father eschewed acting in favor of a more stable position in advertising, a childhood spent witnessing his father's community theater activities seemed to instill a somewhat more perseverant spirit in the star-stricken youngster. Though he would enter Yale as math major and ultimately emerge with a degree in drama, Baker's first true acting experience came with an appearance in the New York Shakespeare Festival.

Baker's film debut in Woody Allen's Manhattan was quick to follow, and despite the fact that he didn't receive a notable amount of screen time, he was subsequently cast in a more weighty role in director Richard Benjamin's My Favorite Year (1982). Frustrated that the name Mark Baker was already taken at the actor's union, Baker assumed his better-known moniker at the suggestion of his father (who offered the name as a tribute to Leonid Tolstoy). His talents soon recognized by television casting agents, it wasn't long before Baker was offered the lead in the upcoming sitcom Perfect Strangers. Cast as the straight man to Bronson Pinchot's wacky foreign cousin, the fish-out-of-water, odd-couple comedy was an instant hit due in no small part to the unmistakable chemistry shared by its stars.

Baker would continue to appear in numerous stage productions following the show's cancellation in 1993, though his absence on the small screen prompted many to speculate on his television and film career. Aside from appearances in Doonesbury: A Broadway Musical (1983) and Noises Off (1992), it appeared as if Baker had virtually disappeared from the spotlight. Of course, this was far from the truth, and in 1995 Baker could be spotted in the Broadway production of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. The new millennium found the still-busy actor becoming a partner in Manhattan's popular West Bank Café, and in 2001, Baker once again split television viewers' sides in Laughter on the 23rd Floor.

Movie Highlights

See Full Filmography


  • Spent three years performing with the Yale Repertory Theatre.
  • Assumed his hyphenated stage name early in his professional career after learning that the name Mark Baker was already registered at the actors' union. 
  • Made his breakthrough in screen acting in the 1982 comedic film My Favorite Year, starring opposite Peter O'Toole as a young writer who tries to keep O'Toole's character sober.
  • Cofounded the New York Stage and Film Company in 1985.
  • Known to TV fans as high-strung Larry in the 1986-93 sitcom hit Perfect Strangers.
  • Helped adapt his father-in-law Arnold Lobel's Frog and Toad series of children's books into a Tony-nominated musical titled A Year With Frog and Toad; went on to play the role of Toad in the original Broadway production in 2003.