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"If I had anything to do with it, it would have done, but the bird seems remarkably indifferent to me. People only recognize me because of the wretched creature!"
―David Bailie[src]

David Bailie (December 4, 1937March 6, 2021) was a South African-born, England-trained actor, known for his performances on stage, television and film. In the 1960s and 1970s, Bailie worked for both the National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company, where he was an associate artist, and trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Since that time, Bailie has continued to work on stage and has also expanded his repertoire to include television and film.

On stage, he performed in Murder in the Cathedral, Macbeth, Waiting for Godot, Two Gentlemen of Verona, Faustus, The Three Musketeers and The Canterbury Tales, among other notable plays. On television, Bailie has appeared in The Play for Today: Lonely Man's Lover, Play of the Month: The Little Minister, Warships, Blake's 7, Onedin Line and The New Adventures of Robin Hood, Crime Unlimited, Gunpowder Plot, the telefilm Attila, and "Dask" in the 1977 Doctor Who serial The Robots of Death. Among Bailie's motion-picture credits are Henry VIII and His Six Wives, the Hammer horror classics The Creeping Flesh, Son of Dracula and Legend of the Werewolf, most notably having roles as "Skewer" in Cutthroat Island, an English Judge in The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc, and "The Engineer" in Gladiator. Bailie was also a professional photographer, specialising in portrait photography and had a studio in West Kensington, London.

For the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, David Bailie portrayed the mute pirate Cotton. He first appeared in the 2003 film Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, then returned for the back-to-back sequels released in 2006-2007, Dead Man's Chest and At World's End. Bailie appeared in the short film Tales of the Code: Wedlocked, first released in 2011 through the Pirates of the Caribbean: Four-Movie Collection, where he had his first (and only) spoken line onscreen.

Biography[]

Life and career[]

David Bailie was born in 1937 in South Africa, going to boarding school in Swaziland (now Eswatini) 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.

DavidBailie

David Bailie.

On stage, the South African-born, England-trained actor[3] performed in Murder in the Cathedral, Macbeth, Waiting for Godot, Two Gentlemen of Verona, Faustus, The Three Musketeers and The Canterbury Tales, among other notable plays. On television, Bailie has appeared in The Play for Today: Lonely Man's Lover, Play of the Month: The Little Minister, Warships, Blake's 7, Onedin Line and The New Adventures of Robin Hood, Crime Unlimited, Gunpowder Plot, the telefilm Attila, and "Dask" in the 1977 Doctor Who serial The Robots of Death. Among Bailie's motion-picture credits are Henry VIII and His Six Wives, the Hammer horror classics The Creeping Flesh, Son of Dracula and Legend of the Werewolf, most notably having roles as "Skewer" in Cutthroat Island, an English Judge in The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc, and "The Engineer" in Gladiator. Bailie was also a professional photographer, specialising in portrait photography and had a studio in West Kensington, London.[4][5]

Pirates of the Caribbean[]

Cotton and his parrot

David Bailie as Cotton in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.

"I struggled hard to find a background for Cotton, why he had his tongue cut out. During our first interview, Gore Verbinski suggested I should puzzle it out. Now I think the Pelegostos did it. I still haven't figured out how Cotton trained the parrot to speak for him, though."
―David Bailie[src]

What was perhaps David Bailie's best known role was portraying Cotton, the mute and tongueless pirate who served under Johnny Depp's Captain Jack Sparrow, in the Pirates of the Caribbean series. The silent Cotton (along with his better half, his parrot who does all the talking) first appeared in the 2003 film Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and directed by Gore Verbinski. The parrot that sits on Cotton's shoulder was played by three birds: a sitter, a talker and a flyer. One of them was particularly fond of nibbling Bailie's ear because he liked the texture.[6]

Bailie was surprised as many were on the success of The Curse of the Black Pearl, which led to his return in the back-to-back productions of the second and third films, Dead Man's Chest and At World's End. On returning as the speechless pirate, Bailie said, "I went into a state of bliss when I heard they wanted me back for the second and third movies. I'm in my mid-60s, and not many actors can round off their career doing three major movies and all that it implies." Also appearing in the films were one of two macaws, spicy and spirited avian creatures appropriately named Chip and Salsa, who play the silent pirate's squawking pet bird. Bailie notes of the two parrots, "One's a good flyer, the other's a good sitter. God, if you heard him squawk! You have no idea what that squawk is like at a two-inch range. Your head just rings." One of the more notable scenes was filmed back at the former Marineland site in Palos Verdes, Verbinski continued directing a sequence at Pelegosto island, and this time, some of the stars‐including Orlando Bloom (Will Turner), Kevin R. McNally (Joshamee Gibbs), Martin Klebba (Marty) and David Bailie—found themselves in a bone cage set loose from a 100-foot tall crane, swinging freely in long, wide arcs.[4]

David Bailie POTC3AWE Premiere

David Bailie at the premiere of At World's End.

Screenwriter Terry Rossio mentioned David Bailie once on his website Wordplay, in the post "Hurricane Season" (2005).[7] Bailie himself appeared in some of the behind the scenes special features in the DVD/Blu-ray release for Dead Man's Chest, including "According To Plan", a full-length documentary of the filming.[8]

Regarding his relationship with the animal character over the last three films, David Bailie was quoted in saying, "If I had anything to do with it, it would have done, but the bird seems remarkably indifferent to me. People only recognize me because of the wretched creature!" Bailie also spoke about working with actor Johnny Depp, devoted up to an hour and a half on most nights signing autographs and taking pictures with an ever-growing army of devotees. "I think Johnny is the best thing since sliced bread. He's a total gent. The way he treats everyone, and perhaps more importantly, his public, is a wonder to behold. I worked with Laurence Olivier in the 1960s when I was in the National Theatre. He was never offhand with his public. He was always thoroughly polite and he recognized that they were his bread and butter, and I've seen Johnny behave in exactly the same way."[5]

Tales of the Code: Wedlocked, the short film directed by James Ward Byrkit and written by Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio, was shot in late 2006 with sets constructed at Walt Disney Studios that were fresh from shooting At World's End, first released in 2011 through the Pirates of the Caribbean: Four-Movie Collection. David Bailie returned as Cotton with Vanessa Branch (Giselle) and Lauren Maher (Scarlett) Wedlocked was Bailie's first and only speaking role as the character. On the short, Byrkit said the implication that Cotton spilled the beans about Mungard is (perhaps) how he got his tongue cut out.[9] Previously, David Bailie confessed, "I struggled hard to find a background for Cotton, why he had his tongue cut out. During our first interview, Gore Verbinski suggested I should puzzle it out." Bailie came up with something while shooting the first film that seemed to be logical, but never really tied into the story for him. When he was brought back to film Dead Man's Chest, he realized the answer could be as apparent as the tip of his tongue—if he had one. "Now I think the Pelegostos did it. I still haven't figured out how Cotton trained the parrot to speak for him, though."[3]

In 2013, David Bailie would join Martin Klebba, Kevin McNally, Vanessa Branch, Lauren Maher and Lee Arenberg (Pintel) at the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo at McCormick Place on April 28, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois.[10][11] Despite the fact that Cotton was featured in Rossio's screenplay for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales,[12] David Bailie would not return as Cotton, making Wedlocked his last role in the franchise.

During an interview released on May 2017, David Bailie stated that he found Cotton not speaking a line through the first three films was a problem and left him feeling he had "failed" at the job instead of finding a way to make Cotton more likable and funny even without a voice. "If I just been a little bit more streetwise about movie-making I could have made Cotton a very funny character, but I see that in retrospect. I think Gore saw me as a bit of a pain in the backside. I was intimidated by Gore. That's the long way short of it. I didn't quite hold my own on the social interactive stakes within the business at all. He used to make funny little quips to me like, 'It's not quite the Royal Shakespeare Company is it?' and I would sort of grin sheepishly." After the third film, At World's End, Bailie was ready to speak if he was cast in another sequel and proposed to director Gore Verbinski and writer Terry Rossio a storyline that Cotton could speak all along but had a catatonic fit and simply had refused to speak during the previous films. "I explained this to the writers and they looked at me like, 'Where was he born? What planet was he on?' I took the proposition to Gore and he gave me an even more old-fashioned look." However, despite Bailie's ideas, Cotton getting his voice back never made it to light.[13]

Later life and death[]

Other than his specialty work as an actor or professional photographer, David Bailie established a YouTube channel, under the username mdebailes', where he uploaded readings and performance excerpts.[14][15]

David Bailie passed away on March 6, 2021 at the age of 83.[2][16]

Appearances[]

Trivia[]

External links[]

Notes and references[]

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