James J. Corbett

Active - 1920 - 1968  |   Born - Sep 1, 1866   |   Died - Feb 18, 1933   |   Genres - Drama, Romance, Sports & Recreation, History, Musical

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Biography by Hans J. Wollstein

The world's first heavyweight boxing champion under the then-new "Marquess of Queensberry" rules (which emphasizes skill over brute strength), James J. Corbett defeated the legendary John L. Sullivan in a 21-round bout in 1892. Corbett, whose dapper persona earned him the nickname "Gentleman Jim," became one of the first "movie stars" when a staged fight with Pete Courtney was filmed by Edison in 1894. (A 1897 bout with Bob Fitzsimmons, however, was faked by the Lubin company who substituted the fighters with a couple of Pennsylvania Railway workers.) Corbett later appeared in fiction films made by Vitagraph, Blache, and Warner Features and he became a serial star in the 1919 Universal offering The Midnight Man, proving only that he was a better fighter than actor. There would be a few other screen appearances in the 1920s, but Corbett was by then better known to vaudeville audiences. It was as a vaudeville veteran that he made his final film, the 1930 all-star musical Happy Days. The famous prizefighter died of liver cancer.

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