He won the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role in 1930 for In Old Arizona (1929) where he became the first actor to play The Cisco Kid.
Towards the end of his career Baxter told journalist Bob Thomas, “It’s a thrill every time a new ‘Kid’ picture comes out. The Oscar I won as the original Cisco Kid has a place of honor in my house.”
In Old Arizona is not part of the 2013 Warner Baxter birthday celebration on Turner Classic Movies.
But never fear, TCM has scheduled a quality day of programming consisting of nine Baxter movies airing between 6:00 am and 7:30 pm EST.
Monday's movies will be highlighted for most by what has turned out over time to be Baxter’s signature role, Julian Marsh in the classic Depression era musical 42nd Street (1933). A very nice runner-up airs immediately after when Baxter stars opposite Myrna Loy in Penthouse (1933).
The complete TCM schedule of Warner Baxter movies for March 29 follows with additional commentary and a couple of stories below that.
TCM Warner Baxter Birthday Schedule, 2013
Note: US schedule; All times EST
- 6:00 am - The Squaw Man (1931) starring Warner Baxter, Lupe Velez, Charles Bickford, D: Cecil B. De Mille
- 8:00 am - The Robin Hood of El Dorado (1936) starring Warner Baxter, Ann Loring, Margo, D: William A. Wellman
- 9:30 am - 42nd Street (1933) starring Warner Baxter, Ruby Keeler, Dick Powell, D: Lloyd Bacon
- 11:15 am - Penthouse (1933) starring Warner Baxter, Myrna Loy, Charles Butterworth, D: W.S. Van Dyke II
- 1:00 pm - Adam Had Four Sons (1941) starring Warner Baxter, Ingrid Bergman, Susan Hayward, D: Gregory Ratoff
- 2:30 pm - Crime Doctor (1943) starring Warner Baxter, Margaret Lindsay, John Litel, D: Michael Gordon
- 3:45 pm - Just Before Dawn (1946) starring Warner Baxter, Adele Roberts, Mona Barrie, D: William Castle
- 5:00 pm - The Millerson Case (1947) starring Warner Baxter, Nancy Saunders, Clem Vebans, D: George Archainbaud
- 6:15 pm - State Penitentiary (1950) starring Warner Baxter, Onslow Stevens, Karin Booth, D: Lew Landers
While not exactly Powell & Loy, it’s worth noting that Penthouse is the second of four movies co-starring Baxter & Loy. Each of those came out between 1930 and 1936.
I recommend hanging around after Penthouse for Adam Had Four Sons (1941). I wrote about that one here.
In this space I’ll just say that the casting offers something for everyone with the past and future colliding in its space in 1941: Warner Baxter and Fay Wray are the old pros while Ingrid Bergman and Susan Hayward are the fresher faces. Hayward goes way over the top in a manner I’m sure her fans will love!
After that TCM moves to the original installment of Crime Doctor (1943), which I covered in detail here. This is the first of ten Crime Doctor entries Baxter would star in throughout the 1940s and it is followed by two additional entries that I’ll be catching for the first time: Just Before Dawn (1946) and The Millerson Case (1947).
Neither of those two titles aired during TCM’s last Crime Doctor marathon and, unfortunately, they represent two of the three empty slots in my almost complete Crime Doctor Episode Guide.
I guess I'll have to get on that now.
“It’s a very comfortable way to continue a long career,” Baxter told Thomas of his run as Dr. Robert Ordway. “When you are doing a familiar character, he practically becomes a friend of yours, and more important, a friend of the audience.”
TCM closes out Warner Baxter day by airing his final film, State Penitentiary (1950) at 6:15 pm EST. I know this one will be of interest to Laura of Laura’s Miscellaneous Musings as it’s directed by Lew Landers whose become a fast favorite over there (and over here!).
Warner Baxter, left, is pictured with Frank McGrath, right, who is described in a 1938 newspaper caption as Baxter's, "stand-in, bodyguard and constant companion."
McGrath had been a movie stunt man, but besides standing in for Warner on the studio sets he also fishes and hunts with the actor. It was a paid gig, but the two were said to be the best of friends.
Stretching my gullibility, Baxter claims that he broke his leg in the mountains of Colorado a few years back and McGrath carried him on his back for four days until they reached help.
Sounds like Bax may be a Lew Landers fan too.
Sidebar: Warner Baxter, Visualizes Success
Warner Baxter reflected on a gloomy period of his career:
“I visualized as clear and firm a picture as I could of myself, being what I wanted to be in the industry, doing the parts I wanted to do. I thought so hard, believing so intensely, I suddenly knew one day I was going to get what I wanted.”
Then came In Old Arizona.
“I know it sounds foolish,” Baxter said. “It does to me, too. But, when necessary, I still try ‘broadcasting’ those thought-waves and concentrating on the visualization, down to the smallest details, of the things I want.”
Baxter to journalist Relman Morin in 1936, a year he pulled down a salary of $284,384 placing him in the top ten of Hollywood earners.
Wonder if he had Napoleon Hill on his bookshelf?
- Morin, Relman. “Baxter Prepares Thought-Waves To Aid His Career.” The Milwaukee Sentinel 28 Feb 1936: 20. Google News. Web. 28 Mar 2013.
- Thomas, Bob. “Warner Baxter Has Long, Happy Career.” The Tuscaloosa 4 May 1949: 10. Google News. Web. 28 Mar 2013.
- "Which Is Warner Baxter, Actor?" The Milwaukee Journal 3 Oct 1938: 1. Google News. Web. 28 Mar 2013.