David Bailie was born in 1937 in South Africa, going to boarding school in Swaziland and emigrating to Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) with his family in 1952.
His first acting experience soon after school in 1955, was an amateur production of ‘Doctor in the House’ which persuaded him he wanted to be an actor. After leaving school he worked in a bank and then for Central African Airlines. In 1958, he made his first trip from Rhodesia to England to get a lie of the land.
In 1960 he moved to England and landed his first small role in the film Flame in the Streets (1960) and then played on of the bells boys in Arthur Koppits “Oh Dad Poor Dad Mama’s hung you in the Closet and I’m feeling so Sad” (1961) with Stella Adler playing Madame Rosepettle.
He then bluffed his way into Weekly Repertory in Barrow-in-Furness as Juvenile lead – terrified the while that he would be exposed as totally inexperienced.
Recognising the need for training he auditioned three times for a bursary to RADA – each time only being accepted as a fee paying student which he couldn’t afford – he finally sent for the last of his standby money (£200) he had left in Rhodesia and paid for the first term (1963) at the end of term he approached John Fernald who relented and he wasgiven free tuition from the next two years.
Terry Hands was also a student at the same time but had left a little earlier than Bailie and formed the Everyman Theatre with Peter James In Liverpool – On leaving RADA Bailie was invited to join the Everyman (1964). Amongst other roles he played Tolen in The Knack, Becket in Murder in the Cathedral, Dion in The Great God Brown, MacDuff in Macbeth and Lucky in Waiting for Godot.
After a year there, he came back to London and auditioned for and was accepted by Laurence Olivier joining the National Theatre. He played minor roles and also understudied Sir Laurence Olivier in Love for Love.
Terry Hands, who had by now joined the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) at Stratford-upon-Avon (and later became its artistic director), invited Bailie to join them as an associate artist (1965). There he portrayed i.a. Florizel opposite Dame Judi Dench’s Perdita in ‘A Winter’s Tale’ along with Valentine in Two Gentlemen of Verona, Kozanka in The Plebeians Rehearse the Uprising and Leslie in The Madness of Lady Bright.
During the early 1970s he worked with Stomu Yamashta at his Red Buddha Theatre. He was cast as the lead in a show called ‘Raindog’, requiring him to do everything from singing (writing his own songs) and dancing, to performing Martial Arts and gymnastics – which he frankly admits was a demand too far and when Yamashta offered him a paltry sum for performing the opportunity was there to depart which he did.
He was now cast by David Maloney for the part of the villain Dask in the serial Robots of Death in “Doctor Who”, a long-running cult TV series of the 1960/70s. He also played in a number of other series prominent at the time.
For personal reasons Bailie now had a long recess in his acting career. Between 1980 and 1989 he ran a furniture-making business. In 1990 he closed that down and returned to acting, having in fact to virtually restart his career. It didn’t help that at exactly this point he had to have a cancer removed from his lip which required learning to speak again.
Whilst awaiting work in the acting field he busied himself with Cad design, self-training and writing computer programs and also doing Health and Safety work in the building industry – in fact busking for a living.
In the mid 1990s after playing alongside Brian Glover in Canterbury Tales he made a comeback in the movie business as ‘Skewer’ in Cutthroat Island (1995), then played an English Judge in The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc (1999), and also the engineer in Gladiator (2000).
Bailie’s best known work in film is the role of Cotton, a speechless pirate who has his tongue cut out, so he miraculously trained his parrot, also named Cotton, to read his mind and speak on his behalf. Bailie first appears as Cotton in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) as one of the pirates Jack Sparrow chooses in Tortuga. He is one of the Black Pearl crew-members to survive the Kracken attack in the sequel Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006). Bailie is also plays Cotton in the third installment of ‘Pirates’ Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End (2007).
David Bailie also emerged as a radio actor. He played the mad scientist Taren Capel, a re-incarnation of his earlier work from the 60s cult series ‘Doctor Who’. He has recently been involved in two audio DVDs playing the memorable character of the ‘Celestial Toymaker’ from Dr Who.
He now also works as a Professional Photographer! Portraiture and Landscapes being his speciality. He travels nowhere unless his destination offers good Photo opportunities.
In addition he is now developing his skills as a video maker using his Canon 5d Mk2 to shoot a number of short HD videos.
David Bailie has two children from his first marriage.
He lives in London England and married Egidija in 2002
He list amongst his skills Acting, Furniture Making, Furniture & Interior Design, CAD Design, Computer Programming, Photography, Health and Safety Executive, Video Making, Property Developing, Restauranteur virtually all of which have afforded him a living at one or the sametime or another – but principally acting is where he still feels the ambition to make it.
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