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Warner Baxter Edit Profile

actor

Warner Baxter was an American actor.

Background

Baxter, Warner was born in 1891 in Columbus, Ohio, United States.

Career

Bv the early 1940s, Baxter’s popularity was slipping away. All through the 1930s, he had seemed the “mature’ man, looking rather older than was the case. Illness and public neglect added gravity to his face and he soldiered on for his last ten years, intent perhaps on making one hundred movies.

He died two short, and is now hardly known because only a handful of his films are ever seen: 42nd Street (33, Lloyd Bacon), in which he played the harassed director; The Prisoner of Shark Island (36, John Ford), his most agonized role, as the doctor imprisoned for setting John Wilkes Booth’s broken leg; and The Road to Glory (36, Howard Hawks), where he fitted admirably into the fatalistic picture of the First World War. In all three, he is a man under pressure, his character hardened by stress. But only a few years before, Baxter had won fame as a carefree, Fair-banksian bandit.

Baxter was a traveling salesman before he went into the theatre; and after a debut in All Woman (18, Hobart Henley), he played on Broadway in Lombardi Ltd. But he soon concentrated on movies and had a variety of supporting parts at different studios: Her Oicn Money (22, Joseph Henabery); If I Were Queen (22, Wesley Ruggles); Blow Your Own Horn (23, James W. Horne); and Christine of the Hungry Heari (24, George Archainbaud). Then Paramount signed him and he played in The Female (24, Sam Wood); The Garden of Weeds (24, James Cruze); and The Golden Bed (25, Cecil B. De Mille). He worked steadily without ever making stardom: Welcome

Home (25, Cruze); A Son of His Father (25, Victor Fleming); Mannequin (26, Cruze); Miss Brewster’s Millions (26, Clarence Badger); The Runaway (26, William C. De Mille); Aloma of the South Seas (26, Maurice Tourneur); the title part in The Great Gatsby (26, Herbert Brenon); Drums of the Deseri (27, John Waters); The Tragedy of Youth (28, Archainbaud); and Three Sinners (28, Rowland V. Lee). Ramona (28, Edwin Carewe) lifted him enormously and, after Craigs Wife (28, W. C. De Mille), Danger Street (28, Ralph luce), and West of Zanzibar (29, Tod Browning), he went to Fox to take over for the injured Raoul Walsh as the Cisco Kid in In Old Arizona (29, Irving Cummings).

The loss of an eye settled Walsh as a director, and the Cisco Kid won Baxter the best actor Oscar. Fox now treated him as a star, but few of his 1930s movies have lasted well: there was something subdued in Baxter, so that he often looked best in support of some other star—with fanet Gaynor in Daddy Longlegs (31, Alfred Santell), for instance.

He also made Behind that Curtain (29. Cummings); Romance of the Rio Grande (29, Santell); The Arizona Kid (30, Santell); Renegades (30, Fleming); Doctors’ Wives (31, Frank Borzage); The Squaw Man (31, C. B. De Mille); Surrender (31, William K. Howard); Six Hours to Live (32, William Dieterle); Dangerously Yours (33, Frank Tuttle); Penthouse (33, W. S. Van Dyke); Broadway Bill (35, Frank Capra); One More Spring (35, Henry King); Under the Pampas Moon (35, James Tinling); Robin Hood of El Dorado (36, William Wellman); To Mary—with Love (36, John Cromwell); White Hunter (36, Cummings); Slave Ship (37, Tay Garnett); as .Alan Breck Stewart in Kidnapped (38, Alfred Werker).

As his ratings slumped, he had supporting parts in Adam Had Four Sons (41, Gregor)' Ratoff) and Lady in the Dark (44, Mitchell Leisen), but otherwise slipped into B pictures, including the dull Crime Doctor series.