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 was given free tuition from the next two years.
Bailie would soon go on to portray the mute pirate Cotton in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, later reprising his role in the sequels, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Tales of the Code: Wedlocked - Cotton
- Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl - Cotton
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest - Cotton
- Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End - Cotton