Steadfast leading man Warner Baxter was born in Ohio and raised in San Francisco by his widowed mother. He worked as a farm implement salesmen in his late teens before turning his hobby of amateur theatricals into a lifelong profession. Alternating between stock-company assignments and "civilian" jobs during the World War I years, Baxter reportedly made his first film in 1914, though he'd later list 1922's Her Own Money as his official screen debut. After one last stage stint in A Tailor Made Man, Baxter became a full-time movie leading man, though full stardom would not be his until his first talkie, In Old Arizona (1929). Armed with a thick Mexican accent and a surfeit of roguish charm, Baxter won an Academy Award for his portrayal of O. Henry's Cisco Kid in this film. His roles became more sophisticated in nature during the 1930s; sporting a rakish mustache and decked out in evening clothes, Baxter cut quite a suave figure in such films as To Mary--With Love (1936) and Wife, Doctor and Nurse (1938). In the '40s he starred in the popular Crime Doctor "B"-picture series at Columbia. One year after completing his final film, 1950's State Penitentiary, Warner Baxter died as a result of cranial surgery, which was intended to relieve his long struggle with arthritis.
Biography by Hal Erickson
- Moved to San Francisco with his mother in 1898 and after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake struck, they lived for eight days in Golden Gate Park.
- Famously played the role of The Cisco Kid from the 1928 film In Old Arizona, a role he reprised several times.
- The second person ever to be awarded the Best Actor Oscar, doing so at the 2nd Academy Awards in 1929.
- Was an inventor and developed a radio device to enable emergency crews to change traffic signals from two blocks away, allowing them safe passage through intersections; and this was installed at an intersection in Beverly Hills in 1940.
- Received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960, 9 years after his death, at 6284 Hollywood Boulevard.