H. B. Warner

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H. B. Warner
H B Warner - Jun 1919 FF.jpg
in 1919
Born Henry Byron Warner
or Henry Byron Lickfold[1]

(1875-10-26)26 October 1875
St John's Wood, London, England, United Kingdom
Died 21 December 1958(1958-12-21) (aged 83)
Woodland Hills, California, United States
Cause of death Heart attack
Resting place Chapel of the Crematory, Los Angeles, California
Occupation Actor
Years active 1896–1956
Spouse(s) Mrs. Fred R. Hamlin (1907-1914) (her death)
Rita Stanwood (1915-1933, divorced) 3 children

Henry Byron Warner (26 October 1875 – 21 December 1958) was an English film and theatre actor. He was a popular theatre and film actor during the silent era and played Jesus Christ in The King of Kings. In later years, he successfully transitioned into supporting roles and appeared in numerous films directed by Frank Capra. Warner's most notable role to modern audiences is "Mr. Gower" in the perennially shown film It's A Wonderful Life, directed by Capra and as a cameo in Sunset Boulevard directed by Billy Wilder.

Early life[edit]

Born Henry Byron Lickfold[1] in St John's Wood, London, England in 1875, H. B. Warner was educated at Bedford School. His father, Charles Warner, was an actor, and though young Henry initially thought about studying medicine, he eventually followed in his father's footsteps and performed on the stage. He had an older sister, Grace Warner (1873-1925), who was a stage actress and manager.[2]


Warner's stage debut came in It's Never Too Late to Mend when he was 21. He went on to act in a number of plays before coming to the United States for the 1905-1906 season.[3] His Broadway credits include Silence (1924), You and I (1922), Danger (1921), Sleeping Partners (1918), Out There (1917), and Blackbirds (1912).[4]


H. B. Warner began his film career in silent films in 1914, when he debuted in The Lost Paradise. He played lead roles in the silent era and also appeared in numerous Broadway plays. His greatest success was the role of Jesus Christ in Cecil B. DeMille's silent film epic, The King of Kings in 1927. He received good reviews for this role, but with the advent of sound era he had to turn towards supporting roles, mostly because of his age. He was usually cast in dignified roles in numerous films of the 1930s and 1940s. He played in the 1930 version of Liliom (as the Heavenly Magistrate), in Five Star Final (1931, as Michael Townsend), in Grand Canary (1934, as Dr. Ismay) and the 1935 version of A Tale of Two Cities as Charles Darnay's servant. He also portrayed the strict judge in Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936) with Gary Cooper and Jean Arthur. He appeared in the original 1937 version of Lost Horizon as Chang, for which he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

Among his later films were You Can't Take It With You (1938), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), The Rains Came (1939), and The Corsican Brothers. In It's a Wonderful Life (1946) he played what was for him an atypical role, as the drunken druggist. Occasionally, Warner was seen in sinister roles, as in the 1941 film version of The Devil and Daniel Webster, in which he played the ghost of John Hathorne. Also that year he played the villainous role of Mr. Carrington in Topper Returns. He also appeared in Sunset Boulevard (1950) in which he played himself, playing cards with some other former silent film stars including Buster Keaton and Anna Q Nilsson. His last film role was an uncredited cameo in Darby's Rangers (1958).

Personal life[edit]

Warner was married twice, first to the former Mrs. F.R. Hamlin who died in 1914 and from 1915 until 1933 to Marguerite L. 'Rita' Stanwood.[5] On 21 December 1958 Warner died in Los Angeles, California of a heart attack, and is buried in the Chapel of the Pines Crematory in Los Angeles, California.

For his contributions to the motion picture industry, Warner has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6600 Hollywood Boulevard.[6]

Partial filmography[edit]

H. B. Warner (1920)
In the 1916 silent drama "The Beggar of Cawnpore," H. B. Warner is Dr. Robert Lowndes, a British army doctor in India reduced to wild eyed beggary by morphine addiction.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Fisher, James; Londré, Felicia Hardison (2009). The A to Z of American Theater: Modernism. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 506. ISBN 9780810868847. Retrieved 18 December 2016. 
  2. ^ Who Was Who in the Theatre: 1912-1976 vol. 4 Q-Z p.2508 (Grace Warner's bio) - from editions originally published annually by John Parker; 1976 edition by Gale Research Company...Retrieved 23 September 2014
  3. ^ Briscoe, Johnson (1907). The Actors' Birthday Book: First -third Series. An Authoritative Insight Into the Lives of the Men and Women of the Stage Born Between January First and December Thirty-first. Moffat, Yard. p. 235. Retrieved 18 December 2016. 
  4. ^ "("H.B. Warner" search results)". Playbill Vault. Retrieved 18 December 2016. 
  5. ^ Silent Film Necrology 2nd edition page 552 c.2001 by Eugene M. Vazzana(H.B. Warner obit) Retrieved 23 September 2014
  6. ^ Hollywood Walk of Fame

External links[edit]