The Henry G. Bennett Distinguished Service Award


Jimmie H. Baker
Director and Producer, American Broadcasting Corporation

Jimmie H. Baker

Jimmie Baker is first, last, and always an Oklahoman, despite his long residence in the show-business environment of Beverly Hills and Hollywood, California. He is a native son of Muskogee, attending public school in Bristow and Tulsa. He graduated from Oklahoma A&M College in 1947. During those formative years, he plated his roots deep in the heart of this state and this campus, never forgetting his alma mater. His many career achievements following the years at OSU have ranged from entertainment to education, ad from philanthropic endeavors to personal service on a variety of major boards and committees.

Following his graduation in 1947--and a year as junior high teacher by day and dance band leader by night--he decided to leave Oklahoma City to cast his lot with show business. He was hired as a mail-room boy by ABC Radio in Hollywood, and within a year, thanks to his college experience as a dance band leader, drum major, and disc jockey, and his studies in speech and broadcasting, he was invited to become an assistant producer of a national network radio show. He moved to ABC Television in 1950, where he won five Emmy Awards, twelve nominations, and four Angel Awards--two of the latter for television programs on the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority network celebrating OSU Centennial events.

Jimmie Baker has been elected to membership in the OSU Alumni Hall of Fame, the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, Who's Who in California, Men of Distinction, and his national fraternity's roster of Distinguished Alumni. Among the board directorships he holds are those with the Thalians, Hollywood; the Buckley School for Gifted Children, Sherman Oaks; BRIDGES, Inc., a mental health association in Pamona; and the Gospel Music Association, Nashville, Tennessee.

His fund-raising activities for emotionally disturbed children, and for the Hollywood Motion Picture and Television Museum, of which he is a co-founder, have resulted in millions of private dollars for those programs. He has assisted in fund-raising for four OSU programs, and currently is chairman of the OSU Foundation's endowment campaign for the arts. He is permanent producer of the annual Abused Children of Oklahoma fund-raising spectaculars, and returns annually to produce the Oklahoma Hall of Fame television production and OSU Alumni Hall of Fame recognition program.

Year of Award: 1991