(This was originally posted in August, 2007)
John Anthony Bailey (left) in the 70’s TV show, Wonderbug.
One evening, I was watching the classic sit-com “Good Times” on TV Land. The episode was about Florida’s nephew who was caught stealing from her purse. I recognized the man who played Cleatus. His name was John Anthony Bailey.
His performance on “Good Times” was outstanding. I always wondered what ever happened to him. So naturally, I did some research. Unfortunately, this was a project that didn’t have a happy ending.
Bailey (above) was a talented actor who not only could act, but was also funny as well. I remembered him from other shows such as a guest staring role on “Happy Days”. He played a character named “Sticks”, who was confronted with racism during the 50’s. It was a powerful statement at that time for TV to tackle.
I also remembered him in a hilarious bit part on this movie called, “The Kentucky Fried Movie”. I remember watching the film with my brother Vince and some other friends our ours at a movie theatre called the Mini-Cinema in Uniondale, New York. It played along with Monty Python’s “And Now For Something Completely Different”. I distinctly remember the people in back of us and we were laughing at their reactions. Both films were a laugh riot!
He was also on a kids TV show called Wonderbug, though I never saw the TV show. It seemed like he was getting steady acting jobs.
However, during the 80’s; Bailey had a hard time finding acting work. In desperation, he started taking work in Adult films under the stage name, Jack Baker. His most recognized work was in a 1985 movie called, “New Wave Hookers”, which included a three-way with adult film veterans, Jamie Gillis and Kristara Barrington.
Poster of the classic adult film, “New Wave Hookers”.
Bailey with porn star, Kristara Barrington in “New Wave Hookers”
He would go on to star in other provocative titles such as “Yankee Seduction”, Hot Chocolate & “Let Me Tell Ya ‘Bout White Chicks”.
Though the work was steady, the growing AIDS epidemic made it a risky endeavour for him. He quit doing porn in 1989. To make matters worse, soon after leaving the industry, Bailey was diagnosed with Cancer.
Without steady work or health insurance, his life spiralled downward. During the last years of his life, he became re-acquainted to his estranged daughter, but according to her, the relationship wasn’t long lasting. He died in 1994 at just 47 years old.
Without a proper death benefit, his family was unable to afford a proper burial. His daughter put together a memorial site for people to remember him, however, the site has been since taken down.
Bailey was a talented actor who was unfortunately one of the many casualties of Hollywood’s revolving door. Minority actors and actresses found it extremely hard to get big roles back in the 70’s and 80’s because of type casting and racism.
Bailey’s story was no exception. What made it even harder to stomach is what Bailey had to endure just to make a living. In the end, in the eyes of Hollywood hot shots, he was just another dot on the end of a long sentence.
May he rest in peace.