King Baggot

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King Baggot
William King Baggot

(1879-11-07)November 7, 1879
DiedJuly 11, 1948(1948-07-11) (aged 68)
Occupation Actor
Years active1900 to 1947
Spouse(s)Ruth Constantine
(1912–1930) (divorce)

William King Baggot (November 7, 1879 July 11, 1948) was an American actor, film director and screenwriter. He was an internationally famous movie star of the silent film era. The first individually publicized leading man in America, Baggot was referred to as "King of the Movies," "The Most Photographed Man in the World" and "The Man Whose Face Is As Familiar As The Man In The Moon."

Actor person who acts in a dramatic or comic production and works in film, television, theatre, or radio

An actor is a person who portrays a character in a performance. The actor performs "in the flesh" in the traditional medium of the theatre or in modern media such as film, radio, and television. The analogous Greek term is ὑποκριτής (hupokritḗs), literally "one who answers". The actor's interpretation of their role—the art of acting—pertains to the role played, whether based on a real person or fictional character. Interpretation occurs even when the actor is "playing themselves", as in some forms of experimental performance art.

Film director Person who controls the artistic and dramatic aspects of a film production

A film director is a person who directs the making of a film. A film director controls a film's artistic and dramatic aspects and visualizes the screenplay while guiding the technical crew and actors in the fulfilment of that vision. The director has a key role in choosing the cast members, production design, and the creative aspects of filmmaking. Under European Union law, the director is viewed as the author of the film.

Screenwriter writer who writes for TV, films, comics and games

A screenplay writer, scriptwriter or scenarist is a writer who practices the craft of screenwriting, writing screenplays on which mass media, such as films, television programs and video games, are based.


Baggot appeared in over 300 motion pictures from 1909 to 1947; wrote 18 screenplays; and directed 45 movies from 1912 to 1928, including The Lie (1912), Raffles, the Amateur Cracksman (1925) and The House of Scandal (1928). He also directed William S. Hart in his most famous western, Tumbleweeds (1925).

Screenplay written work by screenwriters for a film or television program

A screenplay, or script, is a written work by screenwriters for a film, television program or video game. These screenplays can be original works or adaptations from existing pieces of writing. In them, the movement, actions, expression and dialogues of the characters are also narrated. A screenplay written for television is also known as a teleplay.

The Lie (1912) is a silent war drama/romance motion picture short starring King Baggot and Lottie Briscoe.

<i>Raffles, the Amateur Cracksman</i> (1925 film) 1925 film by King Baggot

Raffles, the Amateur Cracksman (1925) is a feature length silent adventure crime drama/romance motion picture starring House Peters, Miss DuPont, Hedda Hopper, Fred Esmelton and Walter Long.

Among his film appearances, he was best known for The Scarlet Letter (1911), Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1913), and Ivanhoe (1913), which was filmed on location in Wales. [1]

The Scarlet Letter (1911) is a silent drama motion picture short starring King Baggot, Lucille Young, and William Robert Daly.

<i>Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde</i> (1913 film) 1913 American film directed by Herbert Brenon

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a 1913 horror film, directed by Herbert Brenon and Carl Laemmle, written by Brenon and produced by Laemmle. The picture is based on the Robert Louis Stevenson story The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and stars King Baggot in the dual role of Jekyll and Hyde. The film was re-released in the US in August 1927.

Filming location Place where film or TV series is produced

A filming location is a place where some or all of a film or television series is produced, in addition to or instead of using sets constructed on a movie studio backlot or soundstage. In filmmaking, a location is any place where a film crew will be filming actors and recording their dialog. A location where dialog is not recorded may be considered as a second unit photography site. Filmmakers often choose to shoot on location because they believe that greater realism can be achieved in a "real" place; however, location shooting is often motivated by the film's budget. Many films shoot interior scenes on a sound stage and exterior scenes on location.

Early life

He was born in St. Louis, Missouri, the son of William Baggot (1845–1909) and Harriet M. "Hattie" King (1859–1933). [2] His siblings were Amos Taylor Baggot (1881–1954); Thomas Gantt Baggot (1889–1979); John Marmaduke Baggot (1891–1975); Arthur Lee Baggot (1893–?); Marion L. Baggot (1896–1973); and Harriet D. Baggot (1899–1930).

His father was born in Ireland, and emigrated from County Limerick to the United States in 1852. He was a prominent St. Louis real estate agent.

Emigration is the act of leaving a resident country or place of residence with the intent to settle elsewhere. Conversely, immigration describes the movement of persons into one country from another. Both are acts of migration across national or other geographical boundaries.

County Limerick County in the Republic of Ireland

County Limerick is a county in Ireland. It is located in the province of Munster, and is also part of the Mid-West Region. It is named after the city of Limerick. Limerick City and County Council is the local council for the county. The county's population at the 2016 census was 194,899 of whom 94,192 lived in Limerick City, the county capital.

A real estate broker or a real estate agent is a person who represents sellers or buyers of real estate or real property. While a broker may work independently, an agent usually work under a licensed broker to represent clients. Brokers and agents are licensed by the state to negotiate sales agreements and manage the documentation required for closing real estate transactions. In North America, some brokers and agents are members of the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the largest trade association for the industry. NAR members are obligated by a code of ethics that go above and beyond state legal requirements to work in the best interest of the client. Buyers and sellers are generally advised to consult a licensed real estate professional for a written definition of an individual state's laws of agency, and many states require written disclosures to be signed by all parties outlining the duties and obligations.

Baggot attended Christian Brothers College High School, a prominent Catholic all-male secondary school, where he excelled at sports, was a star soccer and baseball player, and became captain of the soccer team. [3] In 1894, King left St. Louis and went to Chicago, where he worked as a clerk for his uncle, Edward Baggot (1839–1903), whose business sold plumbing, gas and electric fixtures.

Christian Brothers College High School

Christian Brothers College High School is a Lasallian Catholic college preparatory school for young men in St. Louis, Missouri. It is located in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Saint Louis and is owned and operated by the De La Salle Christian Brothers Midwest District.

Sport Forms of competitive activity, usually physical

Sport includes all forms of competitive physical activity or games which, through casual or organised participation, aim to use, maintain or improve physical ability and skills while providing enjoyment to participants, and in some cases, entertainment for spectators. Hundreds of sports exist, from those between single contestants, through to those with hundreds of simultaneous participants, either in teams or competing as individuals. In certain sports such as racing, many contestants may compete, simultaneously or consecutively, with one winner; in others, the contest is between two sides, each attempting to exceed the other. Some sports allow a "tie" or "draw", in which there is no single winner; others provide tie-breaking methods to ensure one winner and one loser. A number of contests may be arranged in a tournament producing a champion. Many sports leagues make an annual champion by arranging games in a regular sports season, followed in some cases by playoffs.

Association football Team field sport

Association football, more commonly known as football or soccer, is a team sport played with a spherical ball between two teams of eleven players. It is played by 250 million players in over 200 countries and dependencies, making it the world's most popular sport. The game is played on a rectangular field called a pitch with a goal at each end. The object of the game is to score by moving the ball beyond the goal line into the opposing goal.

In 1899, he returned to St. Louis and later played on a semi-professional St. Louis soccer team and became so well known that a Catholic church amateur theatrical group added him to its cast to gain prestige. He liked acting and did well. He soon helped found another amateur theatrical group, the Players Club of St. Louis.

In the meantime, he sold tickets for the St. Louis Browns baseball team and worked as a clerk in the real estate business of his father. [4] But acting proved so interesting that he decided to become professional.

Stage career

Baggot began his career on the stage in a Shakespearean stock company and toured throughout the U.S. Following his first engagement, he performed under the management of Liebler and Company, one of the foremost producing companies at that time. He also toured under the management of Frohman, and the Shuberts, and played five weeks in New York in The Queen of the Highway. Other plays in which he appeared include the comedy revival Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch, which had a run on Broadway in 1906, Salomy Jane and In the Bishop's Carriage .

While acting in stock in St. Louis, in the summer of 1909, Baggot worked with Marguerite Clark in Peter Pan and The Golden Garter . In the two weeks that remained of the season, he played small roles in Frou Frou and Jenny , which both starred Countess Venturini. When the season closed, he was cast as supporting player with Marguerite Clark in the Schubert touring production of The Wishing Ring , which was adapted by Owen Davis from a Dorothea Deakin story. Another cast member, Cecil B. DeMille, also staged the play.

When The Wishing Ring closed in Chicago, Baggot returned to New York to join another company. Upon a chance meeting with Harry Solter, who was directing movies for Carl Laemmle at Independent Moving Pictures Company (IMP), he was persuaded to go with Solter to the studio. Movies were then looked down on by the dramatic profession as a mere recording of stunts, but Baggot went along. He was amused at the violent gestures and jumping around of the players, taking none of it seriously. Baggot, however, became interested in the fledgling industry and later decided to give it a try and turn picture player. [ citation needed ]

Film career

Baggot's first film was the romance short The Awakening of Bess (1909) opposite Florence Lawrence. It was directed by Harry Solter, her husband, at IMP in Fort Lee, New Jersey. At a time when screen actors worked anonymously, Baggot and Lawrence became the first "movie stars" to be given billing, a marquee and promotion in advertising.

Baggot in 1914. King Baggot 001.jpg
Baggot in 1914.

In April 1910, Baggot was at home with his mother and family in St. Louis, when the U.S. Census was taken there. [5] He starred in at least 42 movies opposite Lawrence from 1909 to 1911. In the latter year, he starred in at least 16 movies with Mary Pickford, including Pictureland (1911). Pickford was hired to replace Lawrence after she and Solter broke their contracts, including the one-reel romance/drama Sweet Memories , which was directed by Thomas H. Ince.

Baggot also began writing screenplays and directing, all the while becoming a major star internationally. When he appeared "in person" at theatres he was mobbed at stage doors. By 1912, he was so famous that when he took the leading part in forming the prestigious Screen Club in New York, the first organization of its kind strictly for movie people, he was the natural choice for its first president.

On December 3, 1912, he and Ruth Considine (August 28, 1889 – December 22, 1936) [6] were married in Fort Lee, New Jersey. They had one son, Robert King Baggot (July 11, 1914 – May 18, 1965). A cameraman, he died in Hawaii, while working on a movie. Robert King Baggot had two sons, cinematographer Stephen King Baggot (born 1943) and Bruce Baggot (born 1947).

Baggot as Wilfred of Ivanhoe. Kingbaggot.jpg
Baggot as Wilfred of Ivanhoe.

Baggot starred as Wilfred of Ivanhoe in Ivanhoe (1913), a feature length adventure drama that was filmed on location in England and at Chepstow Castle in Wales. He played the role as Jean Dumas in the drama Absinthe (1914), which was filmed in Paris. In his 1914 two-reel movie Shadows , Baggot directed as well as played the parts of ten different characters.

When he registered for the draft of World War I, on September 12, 1918, Baggot and his wife were living in New York City. [7] He starred in the role as Harrison Grant in the 20-part spy thriller The Eagle's Eye (1918) opposite Marguerite Snow, an adaptation of former FBI Director William J. Flynn's experiences that was produced by Leopold and Theodore Wharton, [8] and as Sheldon Steele (The Hawk) in the crime drama The Hawk's Trail (1919) opposite Grace Darmond.

As a director, he gave Marie Prevost her first starring role in the romantic comedy Kissed (1922). Baggot directed Mary Philbin and William Haines in the romance The Gaiety Girl (1924).

He formed his own production company, King Baggot Productions, and produced and directed The Home Maker (1925), a drama starring Clive Brook and Alice Joyce about the reversal of traditional roles between a husband and wife, [9] which was released through Universal. That same year, Baggot directed William S. Hart in his most famous western, Tumbleweeds , a drama about the Oklahoma land rush of 1893.


Baggot and his wife, Ruth, who had separated on August 20, 1926, were divorced in 1930. [10] She filed on grounds of desertion, stating in the complaint that he was a bad example to their son. She said he would return home after drinking and be in a boisterous mood. [11] When the 1930 census was taken on April 7, Baggot was lodging by himself. [12]

His alcoholism and problems with certain studio executives eventually ended Baggot's directing career. He turned to playing character roles, bit parts and even jobs as an extra, [13] and appeared in scores of movies in that capacity through the 1930s and 1940s, including Mississippi (1935).

Baggot played the uncredited role as a policeman on the street in Bad Sister (1931), which starred Conrad Nagel and Sidney Fox, with Bette Davis in her first movie role. He had the role as Henry Field, a movie director, in the Monogram Pictures drama Police Court (1932) co-starring Henry B. Walthall, which told the story of a has-been alcoholic actor (Walthall) trying to make a comeback. In 1933, Baggot and former leading lady Florence Lawrence, Paul Panzer and another former great star of the silent era, Francis Ford, were given bit parts in what would be former co-star Mary Pickford's last movie, Secrets .

In her Los Angeles Times gossip column on March 1, 1946, Hedda Hopper wrote, "King Baggot, who used to be one of our top directors, is working as an extra in The Show-Off . [14] While living at the Aberdeen Hotel in Venice, California, Baggot made his final movie appearance in the uncredited part of a bank employee in the comedy My Brother Talks to Horses (1947) starring Butch Jenkins and Peter Lawford. Illness then forced his retirement.

King Baggot died at age 68 from a stroke at a sanatorium in Los Angeles. [15] [16] [17] His funeral service was conducted in the chapel of Pierce Brothers Hollywood Mortuary at 1 p.m. on Thursday, July 15, 1948. [18] He is interred in Calvary Cemetery, East Los Angeles.

For his contributions to the film industry, Baggot received a motion pictures star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960. His star is located at 6312 Hollywood Boulevard. [19]

Selected filmography

As actor

1911 Sweet Memories Edward Jackson
1911 The Scarlet Letter Reverend Dimmesdale
1911 Pictureland Pablo
1912 The Lie Captain Robert Evans
1912 The Man from the West Steve Jackson - The Man from the West
1912 A Cave Man Wooing George - The 'Sissy' Hero
1912 The Romance of an Old Maid
1912 Up Against It Amos Bentley
1913 Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Dr. Henry Jekyll / Mr. Hyde
1913 Ivanhoe Wilfred of Ivanhoe
1913 Gold Is Not All Karl - the Composer
1914 Absinthe Jean Dumas
1915 The Corsican Brothers Louis de Franchi / Fabien de Franchi
1918 The Eagle's Eye Harrison Grant
1918 Kildare of Storm Basil Kildare
1919 The Hawk's Trail Sheldon Steele (The Hawk)serial
1919 The Man Who Stayed at Home Christopher Brent
1920 The Cheater Lord Asgarby
1923 The Thrill Chaser Cameo appearance
1932 Police Court Henry Field
1935 Mississippi Gambleruncredited
1939 Stronger Than Desire Juroruncredited
1941 Come Live with Me Doorman
1942 Jackass Mail Old Mineruncredited

As director

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  1. New York Times , Feb. 19, 1928, "Rare Old 'Stills'," p. 114.
  2. 1880 St. Louis Co., MO, U.S. Federal Census, St. Louis, 3618 N. 18th St., June 8, Enumeration Dist. 307, Sheet 3, Page 514 A, Line 5, Wm. Baggot, Line 6, Hattie Baggot, Line 7, William Baggot, White, Male, 7/12, (Mon. Born) Nov., Son, Single, MO, Ireland, MO.
  3. Dumaux, Sally (1997). "King Baggot and the Mystery of "The Lost Mirror". Classic Images (Past Issues). Retrieved February 24, 2009.[ permanent dead link ]
  4. 1900 St. Louis (Independent City), MO, U.S. Federal Census, St. Louis Ward 27, 1463 Union St., June 11, Enumeration Dist. 408, Sheet 14 A, Page 278 A, Line 32, William Bagott [sic], Line 33, Harriet M. Bagott [sic], Line 34, William K. Bagott [sic], Son, White, Male, Nov., 1879, 20, Single, MO, Ireland, MO, Clerk in Real Estate, 0, 0, Y, Y, Y.
  5. 1910 St Louis (Independent City), MO, U.S. Federal Census, St Louis Ward 26, 1463 Union Ave., April 25, Enemuration Dist. 407, Sheet 13 A, Page 35 A, Line 48, Harriet M. Baggot, Line 49, King Baggot, Son, Male, White, 30, Single, MO, Ireland - (Native Language) English, MO, Engl., Actor, Theatre, Wages, N, 0, Y, Y.
  6. New York Times, Dec. 26, 1936, Hollywood, Dec. 25 (AP), "Ruth Baggott [sic]," p. 11.
  7. WWI Draft Registration Card, Serial No.: 376, Name: William King Baggot, Permanent Address: Lambs Club - 130 W. 44th N.Y. City, Age 38, Birth Date: Nov. 7, 1879, Race: White, U.S. Citizen: Natural Born, Present Occupation: Motion Picture "Star," Employer's Place: Motion Picture Corp. W. 61st St. N.Y. City, N.Y., Nearest Relative: Ruth Baggot (Wife) Messeilles Hotel - 103rd St. N.Y.C., Signed: William King Baggot, Registrar's Report: Description of Registrant: Height: Tall: 5'11, Build: Medium: 185, Color of Eyes: Blue, Color of Hair: Lt. Brown, Dated: Sept. 12, 1918 New York City, N.Y.
  8. Dash, Mike (2009). The First Family: Terror, Extortion and the Birth of the American Mafia. London: Simon & Schuster. p. Epilogue, page 10. ISBN   978-1-84737-173-7.
  9. Los Angeles Times, Oct. 4, 1925, "Brook Lauds Character in 'Home Maker," p. 28.
  10. Los Angeles Times, Sep. 18, 1930, "King Baggott Divorced As Bad Example To Son," p. A 12.
  11. New York Times, Sep. 18, 1930, Sep. 17 (AP), "Divorces King Baggott, --- Wife Accuses Movie Director of Habitual Intemperance," p. 2.
  12. 1930 Los Angeles Co., CA, U.S. Federal Census, Los Angeles, Assembly Dist. 55, Block 97, April 7, Enumeration Dist. 65, Sheet 5 B, Page 239 B, Line 97, William K. Baggot, Lodger, Male, White, 50, Married, (Age when first married) 33, N, Y, MO, Ireland, MO, Y, Actor - Director, Motion Pictures, Wages, Y, (Vet.) N.
  13. Los Angeles Times, Feb. 24, 1935, "Former Stars Flock to Ranks of Extras," p. A 1.
  14. Los Angeles Times, Mar. 18, 1946, "Hedda Hopper --- Looking At Hollywood," p. 9.
  15. California Death Index, Name: King Baggot, Birth Date: 11-07-1879, Father's Last: Baggot, Sex: Male, Birth Place, Missouri, Death Place: Los Angeles (19), Death Date: 07-11-1948, SSN: 563-09-0139, Age: 68 yrs.
  16. Los Angeles Times, Jul. 12, 1948, "King Baggot, Early Day Idol of Films, Dies," p. 12.
  17. New York Times, Jul. 13, 1948, Hollywood, Jul. 12 (AP), "King Baggott, 68, Early Film Star --- Leading Man of Silent Era DiesIn Industry Since '09, He Also Was a Director," p. 27.
  18. Los Angeles Times, Jul. 15, 1948, "Obituary --- King Baggot," p. A 15.
  19. "Hollywood Walk of Fame - King Baggot". Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved November 13, 2017.

Further reading