Warner Leroy Baxter (March 29, 1889 – May 7, 1951) was an American actor, known for his role as The Cisco Kid in In Old Arizona (1929), for which he won the second Academy Award for Best Actor in the 1928–1929 Academy Awards. Warner Baxter started his movie career in silent movies. Baxter's most notable silent films are probably The Great Gatsby (1926) and The Awful Truth (1925). Today The Great Gatsby is one of manylost films of the silent era. When talkies came out, Baxter became even more famous. Baxter's most notable talkies are In Old Arizona (1929) 42nd Street (1932), Slave Ship (1937), Kidnapped (1938), and the 1931 20 minute all-star ensemble short film, The Slippery Pearls.
Baxter was born in Columbus, Ohio, and moved to San Francisco, California with his widowed mother Jane in 1898, when he was nine. Following the1906 San Francisco earthquake, he and his family lived in a tent for two weeks. By 1910 Baxter was in vaudeville, and from there began acting on the stage.
With June Lang and Fredric March
Baxter originally worked as an insurance agent, sales manager and commercial traveller. Baxter began his movie career as an extra in 1914 in a stock company and quickly rose to become a star. He had his first starring role in 1921, in a film called Sheltered Daughters, before starring in 48 features during the 1920s. His most notable silent roles were in The Great Gatsby (1926), Aloma of the South Seas (1926) as an island love interest opposite the famous dancer Gilda Gray and a handsome but alcoholic doctor in West of Zanzibar with Lon Chaney.
Baxter's most famous starring role was as the Cisco Kid in In Old Arizona (1929), the first all-talking western, for which he won the second Academy Award for Best Actor. He also starred in 42nd Street(1933), Grand Canary (1934), Broadway Bill (1934) and Kidnapped (1938).
By 1936, Baxter was the highest paid actor in Hollywood, but by 1943 he had slipped to B movie roles, and he starred in a series of "Crime Doctor" films for Columbia Pictures. Baxter made over 100 films between 1914 and 1950.
Baxter married actress Winifred Bryson in 1918, remaining married until his death in 1951. He suffered for several years from arthritis, and in 1951 he underwent a lobotomy to ease the pain. He died shortly after of pneumonia and was interred in Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.
Baxter was a close friend of William Powell, with whom he starred in three films, and was at Powell's side when Jean Harlow died in 1937.
He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6290 Hollywood Boulevard.
When not acting, Baxter was an inventor and in 1935 co-created a revolver searchlight which would illuminate a target and allow a gunman to shoot at it in the dark. He later developed a radio device that would allow emergency crews to change traffic signals from two-blocks away and allow them to safely pass through intersections. He financed its installation at an intersection in Beverly Hills in 1940.