Image of H.B. Warner

H.B. Warner

Henry Byron Warner was the definitive cinematic Jesus Christ in Cecil B. DeMille's The King of Kings (1927). He was born into a prominent theatrical family on October 26, 1875 in London. His father was Charles Warner, and his grandfather was James Warner, both prominent English actors. He replaced J.B. Warner as Jesus in The King of Kings (1927) when J.B. died of tuberculosis at age 29. (J.B. was not Henry's brother. J.B. had taken the professional last name "Warner" because Henry's family took him in.) Henry Warner's family wanted him to become a doctor, and he graduated from London University but eventually gave up his medical studies. The theater was in his blood, and he studied acting in Paris and Italy before joining his father's stock company, making his debut in the English production of "Drink." It was from his father that he honed his craft. Warner made it to America in the early 1900s, after touring the British Empire. Billed as Harry Warner, he made his Broadway debut in the American colonial drama "Audrey" at Hoyt's Theatre on November 24, 1902, starring James O'Neill, the father of playwright Eugene O'Neill. He was billed as H.B. Warner in his next appearance on Broadway, in the 1906 comedy "Nurse Marjorie." He appeared in 13 more Broadway productions in his career, from the twin-bill of "Susan in Search of a Husband" & "A Tenement Tragedy" (also 1906) to "Silence" in 1925. He moved into motion pictures, making his debut in the Mutual short Harp of Tara (1914). Also in 1914, he appeared in a film written by Cecil B. DeMille for Famous Players Lasky, The Ghost Breaker (1914), in which he had played on Broadway the year before. Warner became a leading man and a star in silent pictures, reaching the zenith of his career playing Jesus in DeMille's The King of Kings (1927). His excellent performance was actually enhanced by the silent screen, allowing the audience to imagine how Jesus would sound. Warner could be extremely moving in silent pictures, notably in the melodrama Sorrell and Son (1927) as a war veteran father who sacrifices all for his son. When talkies arrived, he became a busy supporting player. A favorite of Frank Capra , appeared in Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936). Cast again by Capra, he was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in Lost Horizon (1937). He also appeared in You Can't Take It with You (1938), and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939). Other major talkies included The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941) and Topper Returns (1941). Other than Jesus, the role he is best remembered role for today is in It's a Wonderful Life (1946), in which he played Mr. Gower, the druggist who is saved from committing a lethal medication error by the young George Bailey (the James Stewart character as a child). H.B. Warner appeared in Sunset Blvd. (1950) as himself. His last credited role was as Amminadab in DeMille's The Ten Commandments (1956), a remake of the earlier silent The Ten Commandments (1923). He last role was an uncredited bit part in Darby's Rangers (1958).

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Oct 26, 1875
Movie/TV Credits:
First Appeared:
In the movie The Lost Paradise 1914-09-01
Latest Project:
Movie James Stewart's Wonderful Life 1988-11-22
Known For
Poster of South of Tahiti
Poster of Night Alarm
Poster of A Woman Commands
Poster of The Gamblers
Movie James Stewart's Wonderful Life (archive footage) 1988-11-22
Movie The Ten Commandments Amminadab 1956-10-05
Movie Savage Drums Maou 1951-06-22
Movie The First Legion Father José Sierra 1951-05-04
Movie Here Comes the Groom Uncle Elihu 1951-09-20
Movie Journey Into Light Wiz, the Wino 1951-09-28
Movie Sunset Boulevard H.B. Warner 1950-08-10
Movie El Paso Judge Fletcher 1949-03-22
Movie Hellfire Brother Joseph 1949-05-29
Movie The Prince Of Thieves Gilbert Head 1948-01-16
Movie Driftwood Rev. Hollingsworth 1947-09-15
Movie High Wall Mr. Slocum 1947-12-17
Movie The Judge Steps Out Chief Justice Hayes 1947-12-15
Movie Strange Impersonation Dr. Mansfield, plastic surgeon 1946-03-16
Movie It's a Wonderful Life Mr. Gower 1946-12-20
Movie Action in Arabia Abdul El Rashid 1944-02-18
Movie Enemy of Women Col. Eberhart Brandt 1944-11-10
Movie Faces in the Fog Defense Attorney Rankins 1944-11-30
Movie Rogues' Gallery Professor Reynolds 1944-12-06
Movie Hitler's Children The Bishop 1943-01-06
Movie Women in Bondage Pastor Renz 1943-12-16
Movie Crossroads Prosecuting Attorney 1942-07-23
Movie A Yank In Libya Herbert Forbes 1942-07-24
Movie Topper Returns Mr. Carrington 1941-03-21
Movie Ellery Queen and the Perfect Crime Ray Jardin 1941-08-14
Movie City of Missing Girls Capt. McVeigh 1941-03-27
Movie All That Money Can Buy Justice John Hawthorne 1941-10-17
Movie The Corsican Brothers Dr. Enrico Paoli 1941-11-28
Movie South of Tahiti High Chief Kawalima 1941-10-17
Movie New Moon Father Michel 1940-06-28
Movie Bulldog Drummond's Secret Police Colonel Nielson 1939-03-29
Movie Let Freedom Ring Rutledge 1939-02-24
Movie The Gracie Allen Murder Case Richard Lawrence 1939-06-02
Movie Bulldog Drummond's Bride Colonel Nielson 1939-07-12
Movie The Rains Came Maharajah 1939-09-15
Movie Mr. Smith Goes to Washington Senate Majority Leader 1939-10-19
Movie Nurse Edith Cavell Hugh Gibson 1939-08-31
Movie Kidnapped Angus Rankeiller 1938-05-27
Movie The Adventures of Marco Polo Chen Tsu 1938-04-07
Movie The Girl of the Golden West Father Sienna 1938-03-18
Movie The Toy Wife Victor Brigard 1938-06-10
Movie Army Girl Col. Armstrong 1938-08-11
Movie You Can't Take It with You Mr. Ramsey 1938-09-01
Movie Bulldog Drummond in Africa Colonel J. A. Nielsen 1938-08-05
Movie Arrest Bulldog Drummond Colonel Nielsen 1938-11-25
Movie Victoria the Great Lord Melbourne 1937-09-01
Movie Lost Horizon Chang 1937-03-03
Movie Our Fighting Navy British Consul Brent 1937-09-25
Movie The Garden Murder Case Major Fenwicke-Ralston 1936-02-21
Movie Moonlight Murder Godfrey Chiltern 1936-03-27
Movie Rose of the Rancho Don Pasqual Castro 1936-01-09
Movie Along Came Love Dr. Martin 1936-11-05
Movie Mr. Deeds Goes to Town Judge May 1936-04-09
Movie Born to Gamble Carter Mathews 1935-07-09
Movie A Tale of Two Cities Theophile Gabelle 1935-12-25
Movie Viva Villa! Man 1934-04-27
Movie Grand Canary Dr Ismay 1934-07-20
Movie Sorrell and Son Captain Stephen Sorrell 1934-03-05
Movie In Old Santa Fe Charlie Miller 1934-11-15
Movie Night Alarm Henry B. Smith 1934-12-10
Movie Behold My Wife! Hubert Carter 1934-12-06
Movie Jennie Gerhardt William Gerhardt 1933-06-08
Movie Supernatural Dr. Carl Houston 1933-04-21
Movie Christopher Bean Maxwell Davenport 1933-11-17
Movie Cross-Examination Gerald Waring 1932-02-13
Movie A Woman Commands Col. Stradimirovitsch 1932-02-12
Movie Unholy Love Dr. Daniel Gregory 1932-06-08
Movie Charlie Chan's Chance Inspector Fife 1932-01-24
Movie The Menace Inspector Tracy 1932-01-29
Movie Tom Brown of Culver Dr. Brown 1932-06-30
Movie The Son-Daughter Sin Kai 1932-12-23
Movie The Phantom of Crestwood Priam Andes 1932-10-14
Movie The Crusader Phillip Brandon 1932-10-04
Movie A Woman of Experience Hugh Schmidt 1931-08-06
Movie Expensive Women Melville Raymond 1931-10-24
Movie The Reckless Hour Walter Nichols 1931-08-15
Movie The Second Floor Mystery Inspector Bray 1930-04-26
Movie Wild Company Henry Grayson 1930-07-05
Movie The Green Goddess Major Crespin 1930-02-13
Movie The Princess and the Plumber Prince Conrad of Daritzia 1930-12-21
Movie On Your Back Raymond Pryor 1930-09-14
Movie Liliom Chief Magistrate 1930-10-05
Movie Stark Mad 1929-02-02
Movie The Divine Lady Sir William Hamilton 1929-03-31
Movie Show of Shows The Victim - Guillotine Sequence (uncredited) 1929-11-21
Movie The Gamblers James Darwin 1929-06-28
Movie The Trial Of Mary Dugan District Attorney Galway 1929-06-08
Movie Conquest James Farnham 1928-12-22
Movie The King of Kings Jesus, The Christ 1927-04-19
Movie Sorrell and Son Stephen Sorrell 1927-12-02
Movie Silence Jim Warren 1926-04-25
Movie Zaza Bernard Dufresne 1923-10-21
Movie The Raiders Scott Wells 1916-02-27
Movie The Beggar of Cawnpore Dr. Robert Lowndes 1916-04-29
Movie The Vagabond Prince Prince Tonio 1916-10-22
Movie The Lost Paradise Reuben Warren 1914-09-01
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