Lieutenant Baker was a generic name for a number of minor nurse characters in the M*A*S*H TV series. Like Nurse Able and Nurse Charlie, the name Baker was derived from the phonetic alphabet used by the US Army in the 1950s before it was changed to "Alpha, Bravo, Charlie" later.
The Nurse Bakers do not necessarily refer to the same person, and, just like Nurse Able, almost every recurring minor player in the early seasons such as Kellye Nakahara, Gwen Farrell, Lynette Mettey, Bobbie Mitchell and Patricia Stevens would have a turn at playing a Nurse Baker.
The earlier Bakers tended to be bit roles with little continuity. Most of the time (but not always), the name Nurse Baker would not be spoken in dialogue, but seen only in the credits. As with Nurse Able, the name was simply a placeholder to be used for any generic nurse who happened to get a line -- there was no expectation that a specific actor would play the part, nor was a specific consistent character being created.
By Season 7, the usage of the Nurse Baker name had settled down and would be played for the remainder of the show's run by Jan Jorden.
The "Special" Bakers
This page documents the many "generic" Nurse Bakers but two Bakers have been given pages of their own for special reasons. These two are the "named" Bakers, the only Bakers with identified first names.
One of these is Lieutenant Janet Baker who occurs in Season 3 There's Nothing Like a Nurse. She plays an important role in the plot when her behavior to Frank in the O.R. leads Margaret to want to punish her with "bed arrest" - a plot line that was never resolved in the episode. Despite having a significant number of lines, this Baker character was not credited and so the identity of the actress who played her is a mystery and a topic of great research interest among M*A*S*H fans.
The second "named" Baker is Lieutenant Mickey Baker who is a central character in the Season 5 episode The Nurses. Played by Linda Kelsey, Mickey Baker is portrayed as committed and loving wife of Lieutenant Tony Baker, and is obviously a different person from the generic Baker, a flirtatious nurse played by Lynne Marie Stewart in the episodes immediately before and after this episode. In any case, it is clear that Baker is Mickey's married name and her maiden name is unknown.
Seasons 1 to 3
The first appearance of a Nurse Baker, in Season 1 Cowboy is also the most mysterious. Played by Jean Powell, we only ever see her back as she passes through post-op, receives a letter from Father Mulcahy and says "Thank you." Jean Powell has no other credit on IMDB and there is no other information about her, so other than being a brunette, we may never know what she looks like.
The second appearance of Nurse Baker is in Season 2 As You Were. Here Baker is played by Patricia Stevens who had already appeared twice as Lieutenant Mitchell and who will later become a very familiar figure, known for the many different nurses she will play, including a few more Bakers. In this early appearance, she has a small scene with Trapper where they had both stepped outside Post-Op for a break. Trapper says he has 10 minutes. Baker says she also has 10 minutes. Trapper concludes that between the two of them they have 20 minutes so they head off together.
The third appearance of Baker is in Season 3 The General Flipped at Dawn. Played by Lynette Mettey, she has a large role which includes several scenes and many lines. She is first seen in Post-Op tending to a patient. Hawkeye enters and discusses options for a date - how about Biarritz, or Monte Carlo? She turns these down and they finally settle for the mattress in the supply room. Hawkeye says he would bring the saltines. Later, Hawkeye and Baker would be caught in the supply room by Major General Bartford Hamilton Steele who is doing a round of inspections. This is one of Lynette Mettey's later appearances. In earlier episodes she had played Lieutenant Nancy Griffin and Lieutenant Sheila Anderson. After this appearance as Baker, she would make her last M*A*S*H appearance as one of the many Nurse Ables, in Some 38th Parallels.
A few episodes later, in Springtime, it is now the turn of veteran day player Gwen Farrell to play Baker. Here, her role is uncredited but Radar addresses her as Lieutenant Baker when he meets her at the bulletin board. Radar is actually interested in Lieutenant Louise Simmons who is also there with Baker, consulting the volleyball fixtures. Radar is trying to play the game of "ignore" with Simmons, and so cooks up a question for Baker about a unanswered question in her health card. Has Baker ever had "cholera diphtheria, bubonic plague, jungle rot or not?" A bewildered Baker answers: "Not!"
After this, all the remaining Baker appearances in Season 3, 4 in all, would be played by another veteran day player Bobbie Mitchell. The first of these is Alcholics Unanimous. Here Baker comes into the mess tent from the rain outside and joins Hawkeye to watch the night's movie. Hawkeye offers her a martini. She hesitates because she has just had an apple in her tent. "Does it mix with apples?" she asks. "Was Lincoln a car?" Hawkeye replies.
Bobbie Mitchell's appearance as Baker here has led many fans to suppose that she must be the uncredited Lieutenant Janet Baker who shows up in the very next episode There is Nothing Like a Nurse. However this is not possible as in this same episode Bobbie Mitchell is actually playing "Nurse Able".
After this interlude as Able, Bobbie is back as Baker again in Mad Dogs and Servicemen. Here she is making out with Hawkeye in the X-ray room when they are interrupted by Radar. We also learn that she is engaged to a pilot. Bobbie Mitchell's Baker continues as Hawkeye's love interest in House Arrest where she joins Hawkeye for a movie specially screened for him in the Swamp because he is under house arrest. Finally, in the same pattern, Mitchell's Baker dances with Hawkeye in Payday in the Officers' Club when they are interrupted by Radar to tell him $3000 of backpay which he asked for has arrived.
Seasons 4 to 6
In Season 4, it becomes the turn of veteran day player Kellye Nakahara to play Baker. This was before her recurring character settled down as Lieutenant Kellye Yamato. In The Late Captain Pierce, Kellye's Baker has a brief conversation with B.J. during the "wake" they threw for the "deceased" Hawkeye. Baker says of Hawkeye, "He looks just like himself." B.J. replies, "He actually looks more like himself than he ever has." This is the only appearance of Baker in Season 4. There were many more Ables than Bakers in this season.
Season 5 is notable for Baker appearances by another veteran day player Lynne Marie Stewart as well as the return of the versatile Patricia Stevens. In Lt. Radar O'Reilly, Stewart plays a flirtatious Nurse Baker (named in dialogue as well as the credits) who tries to hit on Radar but loses interest when he gets promoted to lieutenant because he is no longer "forbidden fruit". Two episodes later, in The Abduction of Margaret Houlihan, the same Lt. Baker (again named in dialogue as well as the credits) is surprised in the shower when Radar comes in looking for Margaret. These portrayals of Baker by Stewart sandwich the character of Lieutenant Mickey Baker by Linda Kelsey in The Nurses. The contrast in personalities would strongly indicate that Mickey Baker must have been a different person.
In "38 Across" another uncredited and unidentified Baker pops up. She is addressed as "Baker" by B.J. in Post-Op and asked to take an X-ray of Klinger.
In the last episode of season 5, Margaret's Marriage, Patricia Stevens returns after a long break to a role as Baker. She had last played Able but now Judy Farrell had stepped in to that role. This episode features a scene where Nurses Able (Judy Farrell), Baker (Stevens), Clark (Lynne Marie Stewart-the previous Baker), Kellye (Kellye Nakahara) throw a bridal shower for Margaret. In production sequence, this episode was actually came just before "38 Across".
Season 6 may be called Patricia Steven's season as all the credited Bakers are played by her. But first an uncredited Baker appears in Fade Out, Fade In. She is assisting Hawkeye in the O.R. and is the first to greet Margaret when she enters, having returned unexpectedly from her honeymoon. Margaret calls her by name and moves in to take over from her, telling her to take a break as she looks exhausted. We only ever see a side profile and then behind a surgical mask. The best guess right now would be Patricia Stevens. The voice sounds right and she does play Baker at the end of Season 5 and Bakers for the rest of Season 6.
In the second episode of Season 6, Fallen Idol, Steven's Baker is on duty in Post-Op when Hawkeye comes in to see Radar. "You are not going to talk to him again, are you?" she asks, not wanting another quarrel to erupt between the two.
Next, in Patent 4077, Baker is in the nurses' tent with Nurse Campbell grumbling about what a hard time they are having from Margaret ever since she lost her wedding ring. In this conversation, Baker reveals that she is married when she says she wishes Margaret would take her wedding ring - it would be worth a divorce to get the Major off their backs. Hawkeye and B.J. come in to try to persuade them to attend a party with some combat engineers (they want the engineers to make a surgical instrument) but before they get very far, Margaret comes in and sends the two nurses off to recheck the inventories.
In between this string of Bakers by Patricia Stevens, there now pops up an uncredited Baker played by an unknown actress. She is on duty in Post-Op when Klinger and Mulcahy return with the much-needed penicillin. B.J. calls to Baker by name and tells her to keep an eye on a patient and to call him if there is trouble.
Finally, there is the last Baker of Season 6, and also the last named nurse to be played by Patricia Stevens in Your Hit Parade. This time she is on duty in the mess tent (being used as Post-Op because there are too many patients). Winchester tells her there is something on a patient's chart he doesn't understand: "Lima beans and cube steak in country gravy." Is he supposed to administer it or treat it? Baker tells him that's the menu from the mess tent! This is Steven's second last appearance. Her last one will be as an unnamed duty nurse next season.
Jan Jorden's Era
Although numerous actresses were credited as Nurse Baker from Season 1 to 6, a change took place in season 7 with the arrival of Jan Jorden. From here on, all the Bakers would be played by her, and she would always be credited as Baker, never anyone else. This same "fixing" of the characters also took place with Nurse Able (always Judy Farrell) from about Season 6. Other regular day players also had their characters "fixed", although only by first name, such as Nurses Kellye (Kellye Nakahara), Gwen (Gwen Farrell), and Nurse Shari (Shari Saba).
Jan Jorden's first appearance as Baker was in the Season 7 episode “Commander Pierce”, in which she argues with Bigelow and Kellye in the mess tent about switching shifts. In "None Like It hot", she is again in the mess tent. This time she is with Kellye and one other nurse (possibly Lieutenant Jennifer) when they overhear Hawkeye mentioning to Radar that he has a bathtub. She then leads the nurses in ambushing Radar while he is taking a bath.
In "Baby, It’s Cold Outside", she has a greatly expanded role with much more screen time and lines. In pre-op, she first calls Hawkeye's attention to a soldier who is suffering from hypothermia. Later in post-op, she continues to look after the patient and calls Hawkeye when she suspects the patient is in trouble, whereupon Hawkeye sends her to fetch Potter. She assists the doctors in giving the patient a hot bath to warm him up and then helps to revive him when he suffers a cardiac arrest.
In "Point of View" she tends to the patient Private Rich, fetching him a wheelchair when Klinger wants to take him for a tour of the camp. Later she falls victim to an "angry Potter" when she reminds him to sign a chart.
In Season 8, she only appears once, in Period of Adjustment when she helps Hawkeye keep an eye on the patient Anderson, summoning Hawkeye when she thinks he might be going into shock.
In Season 9, Hawkeye flirted with Baker in “Taking the Fifth” but he isn't able to make much progress with her. She later joined the rest of the nurses in the supply tent to sample his vintage wine.
In “Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen” film, Baker announced that she was going to stay in nursing and try to get into maternity or pediatrics. After everything she went through during the war, it “would be nice to help bring people into the world.”