Biography

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).

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).

Personal Info

Known For Acting

Gender Male

Known Credits 94

Birthday 1875-10-26

Day of Death 1958-12-21

Place of Birth London, England, UK

Official Site -

Also Known As

  • Harry Byron Lickfold
  • Henry B. Warner
  • H. B. Warner

Acting TV ShowsMovies

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

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