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Larry Wilcox

Born: 08 August 1947 (74 years old)
Gender: Male

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Bio

Larry Wilcox is an American actor best known for his role as Officer Jon Baker in CHiPs, an American television series about the motorcycle officers of the California Highway Patrol, from 1977-1982.

Born in San Diego, California, Wilcox's parents divorced while he was still an infant. He moved to Rawlins, Wyoming, and was raised on The Flying Diamond, his grandfather's ranch.

His father, a bartender, died shortly after and his mother worked as a secretary to support her four children.

After graduating from Rawlins High School, Larry drifted to Los Angeles and worked odd jobs while studying piano and acting.

In 1967, about to be drafted, he joined the Marine Corps and spent 13 months in Vietnam as an artilleryman. He reached the rank of Sergeant before he was discharged in 1970.

Returning to the States, he resumed his acting lessons in Los Angeles. A fling with predentistry courses at a local college convinced him he "didn't have the manual dexterity for it."

Before long, Wilcox was landing lucrative television commercials for the likes of Old Spice. In 1972 he was cast as Dale Mitchell in another reincarnation of the popular series, Lassie. The show lasted until 1974.

He went on to make several guest appearances on TV, such as in M*A*S*H, and in movies until, in 1977, he was cast as Jon Baker in CHiPs. Wilcox admits taking the role to ease his despair at losing a part in Rich Man, Poor Man to Nick Nolte.

As an accomplished motorcycle rider, horseman, race car driver, and jet skier, Wilcox did many of his own stunts on the show. Unlike his co-star, Erik Estrada (who played Francis "Ponch" Poncherello), Wilcox never suffered any major injuries.

By the 1979–80 season, he made $25,000 per episode (the same amount as Estrada).

Rumors of friction between the two had occurred late in the 1978–79 season, but it calmed down after Estrada's injury at the beginning of the 1979–80 season. Apparently the accident was not enough to bring them back together; Estrada was not invited to his co-star's 1980 wedding.

Wilcox admits he and Estrada were never the best of friends, and that some of the rumors of on-set feuding were true. However, whatever friction may have existed between the two, it never showed in Jon and Ponch's on-screen relationship. Said Wilcox: "We're just two totally different people."

In 1982, Wilcox left CHiPs to pursue other projects. He formed his own production company, Wilcox Productions, which produced the acclaimed television series The Ray Bradbury Theater for five years. He also continued acting and directing.

In the mid-1990s, Wilcox ran a pharmaceutical company called Team Elite. He described it as "a multidivisional company selling liquid vitamins, wholesale travel and long-distance communications through network marketing."

Today, he continues to run Wilcox Productions and is also president of UCHUB, a software company specializing in digital communities.

He has also produced, directed, wrote and starred in a children's video called Lil CHP, which tells the story of two little boys who dream of becoming California Highway Patrol motor officers. Wilcox returned in his CHiPs role of Jon Baker, and former co-star Robert Pine returned as Sergeant Joe Getraer.

The video also starred John Schneider (The Dukes Of Hazzard) and Ron Masak (Murder, She Wrote).

Wilcox says his entrepreneurial talents were nurtured during his days on CHiPs by David Begelman, then the top executive at MGM, which produced the show. Contrary to Estrada, who blames Begelman for sabotaging his career, Wilcox says, "I loved Begelman. He helped me so much; he gave me advice, we discussed deals and how to negotiate. He was kind of a mentor. He sure was nice to me."

With encouragement from Begelman, Wilcox optioned the rights to several entertainment properties, including the story of a young actress murdered by her boyfriend, which became Death of a Centerfold: The Dorothy Stratten Story. Wilcox was executive producer of the TV movie, which starred Jamie Lee Curtis.

The story had a deeper resonance for Wilcox, whose older sister was shot in front of her three children and her mother. The accused murderer, her husband, was later acquitted in a celebrated trial in Wyoming and subsequently killed in a barroom brawl, according to Wilcox.

Wilcox was reunited briefly on-screen with his former co-star Estrada in National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon 1, and then again in 1998's CHiPs reunion movie, CHiPs 99, Wilcox says he still talks to Estrada a few times a year.

In 1978, Wilcox divorced his first wife, Judy Vagner (they had married on March 29, 1969). They had two children together: Derek, the elder, was born in 1970 and appeared in two episodes of CHiPs. He is currently getting his Ph.D. in Intellectual History and Critical Thinking at the University of Chicago.

Heidi (born 1975), the second oldest, is working in the dental profession.

Wilcox's second marriage was to Hannie Strasser, a one time CHiPs assistant sound technician and a native of Denmark. The wedding took place on April 11, 1980. Their daughter Wendy was born in 1982.

On April 22, 1986, Wilcox maried his third wife, Marlene Harmon Wilcox, a member of the 1980 Olympic Heptathlon Team. Their two children are Chad (born 1993) and Ryan (born 1995).

As of 2006, Wilcox lives on a ranch in the San Fernando Valley and is content running his company and in his words, "Enjoying my family and planting as many memories as I can" and says that he remains grateful for his many fans.

When asked what he thought about the upcoming CHiPs feature film, he said simply, "I wish them well!"






Television Roles

Show

Character

Himself

Officer Jon Baker

Officer Jon Baker

Officer Jon Baker

Officer Jon Baker

Officer Jon Baker

Mike

Corporal Mulligan

Minton

George Morgan




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