H.B. Warner

Active - 1914 - 1958  |   Born - Oct 26, 1876   |   Died - Dec 21, 1958   |   Genres - Drama, Mystery, Romance, Adventure

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Biography by Hal Erickson

H.B. Warner was the son of Charles Warner and the grandson of James Warner, both prominent British stage actors. A tentative stab at studying medicine was abandoned when the younger Warner took drama lessons in Paris and Italy, then joined his father's stock company. After touring the British empire, Warner made his first American stage appearance in 1905. A leading man in his younger days, Warner starred in the first stage and screen versions of that hardy perennial The Ghost Breaker. His most celebrated silent film role was as Christ in Cecil B. DeMille's The King of Kings (1927). Though Warner sometimes complained that this most daunting of portrayals ruined his career, in point of fact he remained extremely busy as a character actor in the 1930s and 1940s. A favorite of director Frank Capra, Warner appeared as Chang in Lost Horizon (1937) (for which he was Oscar-nominated) and as old man Gower in the Christmas perennial It's a Wonderful Life (1946). Warner also played Inspector Nielsen in several of the Bulldog Drummond B-pictures of the 1930s, and had a cameo as one of Gloria Swanson's "waxworks" in Sunset Boulevard. H.B. Warner's final screen appearance was in DeMille's 1956 remake of The Ten Commandments.

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