Phil Baker is best known as a popular American comedian and emcee on radio. Baker was also a vaudeville actor, composer, songwriter, accordionist and author.
Baker went to school in Boston, and his first stage appearance was in a Boston amateur show. Baker began in vaudeville playing the piano for violinist Ed Janis, and he was 19 when he teamed with Ben Bernie for the vaudeville act, “Bernie and Baker.” This originally was a serious musical act with Baker on accordion and Bernie on violin but eventually ended up with comic elements. After breaking with Bernie shortly after World War I, Baker partnered with Sid Silvers up until 1928.
Baker went onto pursue a successful solo career. His solo act included him singing, playing the accordion, telling jokes and being heckled by a planted audience member named “Jojo.” With this act, Baker played the Palace Theatre in 1930 and 1931.
In 1923, Baker appeared in an early DeForest Phonofilm short A Musical Monologue in which he played the accordion and sang. Bernie also appeared in a DeForest Phonofilm Ben Bernie and All the Lads featuring Bernie’s band and pianist Oscar Levant. During World War I Baker served in the US Navy. Baker appeared in a number of Broadway musicals: