Wagner in Dick Tracy vs. Cueball (1946)
|Born||November 28, 1901|
Torreón, Coahuila, Mexico
|Died||November 16, 1975 (aged 73)|
|Resting place||Hollywood Forever Cemetery|
Max Wagner (November 28, 1901 – November 16, 1975) was a Mexican-born American film actor who specialized in playing small parts such as thugs, gangsters, sailors, henchmen, bodyguards, cab drivers and moving men, appearing more than 400 films in his career, most without receiving screen credit. Newspaper gossip columnists noted his rise from playing "Gangster #4", with no lines, and not carrying a gun, to "Gangster #2", with both lines and a gun.
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Wagner was one of five children, all boys, of William Wallace Wagner, a railroad conductor, and Edith Wagner, a writer who provided dispatches for the Christian Science Monitor during the Mexican Revolution. When he was 10 years old, his father was killed by rebels and the family moved to Salinas, California, where he met John Steinbeck, who became a lifelong friend. Steinback based the character of the boy in his novel The Red Pony on Wagner.
Three of Wagner's brothers were working in Hollywood – Jack Wagner and Blake Wagner as cameramen for D.W. Griffith, Hal Roach and Mack Sennett, and Bob as an assistant cameraman at First National – and Max Wagner moved there in 1924, where he got an acting job on the Harry Langdon film his brother Jack was working on, All Night Long.
Under the name "Max Baron", Wagner acted in many Spanish-language versions of English-language films, which studios made as a matter of course in the early days of sound films, He also served as a Spanish language coach for other actors, and appeared in many of the "Mexican Spitfire" films starring Lupe Vélez, where he also served to monitor Velez's Spanish ad-libs for profanity.
Other series that Wagner appeared in include the Charlie Chan films, and Tom Mix serials, as well as others made by Mascot Pictures Corporation. In the 1940s, Wagner was part of Preston Sturges' unofficial "stock company" of character actors, appearing in six films written and directed by Sturges, beginning with The Palm Beach Story
In 1940 during the filming of "The Mad Doctor", Wagner was credited for driving 50,000 miles as an on-screen taxi driver on the studio back lots of Hollywood. Since his appearance as a cab driver in Charlie Chan in Shanghai (1935), producers often cast him as a wise-cracking or henchman taxi driver. "I was cast as a taxi driver about five years ago", Wagner told a reporter. "And I was typed." 
Paul Kelly case
This section relies largely or entirely on a single source. (June 2017)
Wagner was the star prosecution witness in the manslaughter trials of actor Paul Kelly and actress/screenwriter Dorothy Mackaye in 1927. Wagner was Kelly's roommate.
During an alcohol-fueled party at Wagner and Kelly's apartment on April 16, 1927, Kelly beat to death Mackaye's husband, Ray Raymond, a Vaudeville entertainer. Kelly and Mackaye had been seeing each other for some time before the fight had occurred. Wagner was present when Kelly and Raymond were fighting.
Kelly was convicted of manslaughter but served only two years in prison. Mackaye was sentenced to 10 months in prison on accessory and concealing evidence convictions. Kelly and Mackaye were married after Kelly's release from prison. Wagner and Kelly appeared together in two films after the incident: Death on the Diamond (1934) and Frenchie (1950).
This section relies largely or entirely on a single source. (June 2017)
He was a regular cast member on the western television series Gunsmoke, making nearly 80 appearances between 1959 and 1973. He also appeared in many episodes of The Rifleman, Bonanza, Cimarron Strip, The Wild Wild West and Maverick, including a guest-starring role in the 1959 Rifleman episode "Blood Brother." He also had roles in the original Star Trek and The Twilight Zone series. He appeared in more than 200 television episodes between 1952 and 1974.
Notable film roles for Wagner include a supporting role in the cult science fiction classic Invaders from Mars (1953), an actor playing a gangster in the film-within-a-film segment of Bullets or Ballots (1936), and the bull farm attendant in the Laurel and Hardy comedy The Bullfighters (1945).
Late in his career, he appeared in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962). He also occasionally composed music, such as the Mexican folk ballad "Pedro, Rudarte y Simon" in the Western film The Last Trail (1933).
Wagner died of a heart attack in Hollywood in 1975.
- Chatterbox (1936) - Himself (uncredited)
- The Conqueror (1956) - Mongul Guard (uncredited)
- Westward Ho the Wagons! (1956) - Wagon Man (uncredited)
- Public Pigeon No. 1 (1957) - Police Detective (uncredited)
- The Spirit of St. Louis (1957) - Reporter (uncredited)
- The Wayward Bus (1957) - Bit part (uncredited)
- Robbery Under Arms (1957) - Goring
- A Nice Little Bank That Should Be Robbed (1958) - Bus Driver (uncredited)
- The Fiend Who Walked the West (1958) - Court Clerk (uncredited)
- The Buccaneer (1958) - City Guard Turnkey (uncredited)
- Ice Palace (1960) - Party Guest (uncredited)
- One Foot in Hell (1960) - Cantina Barfly (uncredited)
- Sunrise at Campobello (1960) - Convention Delegate (uncredited)
- A Fever in the Blood (1961) - Gubernatorial Convention Attendee (uncredited)
- Ada (1961) - Spectator in State House Gallery (uncredited)
- The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) - Townsman (uncredited)
- To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) - Courtroom Spectator (uncredited)
- It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963) - Spectator (uncredited)
- 4 for Texas (1963) - Blackjack Dealer
- Law of the Lawless (1964) - Barfly (uncredited)
- Invitation to a Gunfighter (1964) - Townsman (uncredited)
- Shenandoah (1965) - Church Member (uncredited)
- The Great Race (1965) - Barfly (uncredited)
- Gunpoint (1966) - Townsman (uncredited)
- A Big Hand for the Little Lady (1966) - Cashier (uncredited)
- Waco (1966) - Townsman (uncredited)
- Return of the Gunfighter (1967) - Barfly (uncredited)
- The Adventures of Bullwhip Griffin (1967) - Townsman (uncredited)
- Hang 'Em High (1968) - Prisoner in Compound (uncredited)
- Rosemary's Baby (1968) - Man in Dream Sequence (uncredited)
- Where Were You When the Lights Went Out? (1968) - Minor Role (uncredited)
- The Legend of Lylah Clare (1968) - Reporter (uncredited)
- True Grit (1969) - Courtroom Spectator (uncredited)
- The Reivers (1969) - Race Spectator (uncredited)
- The Cheyenne Social Club (1970) - Barfly (uncredited)
- WUSA (1970) - Bar Patron (uncredited)
- Support Your Local Gunfighter (1971) - Townsman Watching Fight (uncredited)
- Get to Know Your Rabbit (1972) - Drunk (uncredited)
- Young Frankenstein (1974) - Villager (uncredited)
- Erickson, Hal Biography (Allmovie)
- Wagner, Rob Leicester (1 June 2016). Hollywood Bohemia: The Roots of Progressive Politics in Rob Wagner's Script. Janaway. p. 64. ISBN 978-1596413696.
- Wagner appeared in every film made by Sturges from 1942 to 1949, with the single exception of Hail the Conquering Hero. He can be seen in The Palm Beach Story, The Miracle of Morgan's Creek, The Great Moment, The Sin of Harold Diddlebock, Unfaithfully Yours, and The Beautiful Blonde from Bashful Bend, Sturges' last American picture.
- Herald Journal
- Milwaukee Sentinel, news.google.com; accessed June 1, 2017.