Biography

A major figure of the motion picture industry's formative years, American actor/director King Baggot was the son of a prominent St. Louis real estate investor. He intended to become a baseball player, but settled instead for a theatrical career. After a few years as a stock-company juvenile, Baggot scored his first success with the lead in More to Be Pitied Than Scorned. In 1909 Baggot entered films by joining Carl Laemmle's fledgling Universal company. His specialty was virile action roles, but Baggot was also at home with such classics as Ivanhoe (1912); he also thrived in dual roles, examples of which could be found in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1913) and The Corsican Brothers (1915). As age caught up with him, Baggot began concentrating on directing. His most celebrated assignment was William S. Hart's Tumbleweeds, for which Baggot and Hart shared directorial credit. Returning to acting as "King Baggott," he was reduced to bit roles in features (a doorman in Topaze [1933], a gambler in Mississippi [1935]) and supporting parts in such cheap two-reelers as Harry Langdon's The Big Flash (1932). In 1933, Baggot was one of several silent-film veterans to be awarded a lifetime contract by MGM -- a symbolic gesture at best, since he was seldom seen in a sizeable part and drew a meager weekly salary of 75 dollars. The name of King Baggot has been perpetuated by his namesake grandson, a prolific cameraman of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi