Catholics in the Movies: King Baggot (1879-1948)

The son of an Irish immigrant from Limerick, William King Baggot was born in St. Louis, where he attended Christian Brothers College High School. After working in Chicago, he played soccer in St. Louis and joined a parish theater group, which was his first exposure to acting. After several years on stage (he appeared on Broadway in 1906, in the play Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch), he joined the Independent Motion Pictures Company (IMP) in 1909. For the next five decades he appeared in over 300 films. He was one of the screen’s first Dr. Jekylls in 1911. One of his most popular roles was as the star of Ivanhoe (1913), filmed in Great Britain. During his heyday Baggot was known as the “King of the Movies,” “the Most Photographed Man in the World.” A tall, stocky leading man, he started directing in the 1920’s. His 1925 Tumbleweeds, starring William S. Hart, was perhaps the greatest Western epic of the silent era. With the advent of sound, Baggot took character roles. His last role was uncredited, an extra in 1947’s My Brother Talks to Horses. He died on August 15, 1948, in Los Angeles. King Baggot was buried in Calvary Cemetery, East Los Angeles.  

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