Online Encyclopedia Search Tool

Your Online Encyclopedia


Online Encylopedia and Dictionary Research Site

Online Encyclopedia Free Search Online Encyclopedia Search    Online Encyclopedia Browse    welcome to our free dictionary for your research of every kind

Online Encyclopedia

Max Baer

This article is about the boxer and actor. For an article about his actor son, see: Max Baer, Jr.

Max Baer (February 11, 1909November 21, 1959) was a famous American boxer of the 1930s, onetime Heavyweight Champion of the World and actor.

Max Baer
Max Baer

He was born Maximilian Adalbert Baer in Omaha, Nebraska, the son of Jacob Baer (October 1875-May 2, 1938) and Dora Bales (1877-August 7, 1938). His older sister was Fanny Baer (born 1905), and his younger sister and brother were Bernice Baer (born 1911) and Jacob Henry Baer (boxer-turned-actor Buddy Baer) (June 11, 1915-July 18, 1986).

His father was a butcher. The family moved to Colorado before Bernice and Buddy were born. In 1921, when Maxie was twelve, they moved to Livermore, California, to engage in cattle ranching. He often credited working as a butcher boy and carrying heavy carcasses of meat for developing his powerful shoulders.

He turned pro boxer in 1929, progressing steadily through the ranks. A ring tragedy little more than a year later almost caused him to drop out of boxing for good. Baer fought Frankie Campbell on August 25, 1930 in San Francisco and knocked him out. Campbell later collapsed and died of head injuries. This shocked Baer. He was charged with manslaughter, but was cleared of all charges. He gave purses from succeeding bouts to Campbell's family, but lost four of his next six fights. He fared better when Jack Dempsey took him under his wing.

Baer beat the likes of Walter Cobb , King Levinsky and Tommy Loughran. In 1933, he boxed rugged Max Schmeling at Yankee Stadium and dominated the German fighter into the tenth round, when the referee stopped the match.

His motion picture debut was in The Prizefighter and the Lady (1933) opposite Myrna Loy and Walter Huston. In this MGM movie he played Steven "Steve" Morgan, a bartender that the Professor, played by Huston, begins training him for the ring. Steve wins a fight, then marries Belle Mercer, played by Loy. He starts seriously training, but it turns out he has a big ego and an eye for the women. Featured were Primo Carnera as himself and Jack Dempsey as himself, former Heavyweight Champ, acting as the referee.

Baer was Heavyweight Champion of the World from June 14, 1934 to June 13, 1935.

He had two wives, actress Dorothy Dunbar (married July 8, 1931-divorced 1933) and Mary Ellen Sullivan (married June 29, 1935-his death 1959).

He and Sullivan had three children, Maximilian Adalbert Baer, Jr. (actor Max Baer, Jr.) (born December 4, 1937), James Baer (born 1941) and Maude Baer (born 1943).

Baer fought Lou Nova in the first televised heavyweight prizefight June 1, 1939, on WNBT-TV in New York. His last match was another loss to Nova, in 1941. Max Baer and his brother, Buddy, both lost fights to Joe Louis, Buddy's two losses to Louis coming in world title fights.

Max Baer boxed in eighty fights from 1929 to 1941. In all, his record was 72-12 (53 knockouts), which makes him a member of the exclusive group of boxers to have won fifty or more bouts by knockout.

Baer was an actor in almost twenty movies, including one with Abbott and Costello, and made several TV appearances. Coincidentally, Nova also later had a similarly successful acting career.

A clown in and out of the ring, Baer also appeared in a vaudeville act and on his own TV variety show. He was a disc jockey for a Sacramento radio station and was a wrestler for a while. He was also public relations director for a Sacramento automobile dealership and referee for boxing and wrestling matches.

Unfortunately, Max Baer never saw the TV and movie success of his son, Max Baer, Jr. In November 1959, he was scheduled to appear in some TV commercials, which he planned to do before returning to his home in Sacramento. After refereeing a boxing match in Phoenix, Arizona, he checked into the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood. While shaving in the morning, he had a heart attack and the doctor was called. Baer hung on for a while, but then died in his room at age fifty. He is interred in Saint Mary's Mausoleum, Sacramento.

There is a park named for Max Baer in Livermore, California, which he considered his home town, even though he was born in Omaha.

He was inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame in 1968, the World Boxing Hall of Fame in 1984 and the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1995.

Max Baer once said, "I never had a fight out of the ring. I never harmed anyone outside the ring. I loved people."


  • The Prizefighter and the Lady (1933) (MGM) ... Steven "Steve" Morgan
  • Kids On the Cuff (1935) (Paramount)
  • Over She Goes (1938) (Asso. British Picture Corp.) ... Silas Morner
  • The Navy Comes Through (1942) (RKO) ... Coxswain Berringer
  • The McGuerins from Brooklyn (1942) (United Artists) ... Prof. Samson ... aka Two Mugs from Brooklyn
  • Ladies' Day (1943) (RKO) ... Hippo Jones
  • Buckskin Frontier (1943) (United Artists) ... Tiny
  • Africa Screams (1949) (United Artists) ... Boots ... aka Abbott and Costello in Africa
  • Bride for Sale (1949) (RKO) ... Litka
  • Two Knights from Brooklyn (1949) (United Artists) ... Prof. Samson (A compilation of two previous McGuerin movies.)
  • Riding High (1950) (Paramount) ... Bertie (uncredited)
  • Two Roaming Champs (1950) comedy-short (Columbia)
  • Wine, Women and Bong (1951) comedy-short (Columbia)
  • Skipalong Rosenbloom (1951) (United Artists) ... Butcher Baer ... aka The Square Shooter
  • The Champ Steps Out (1951) (Columbia)
  • Rootin' Tootin' Tenderfeet (1952) comedy-short (Columbia) ... Max
  • The Harder They Fall (1956) (Columbia) ... Buddy Brannen
  • Utah Blaine (1957) (Columbia) ... Gus Ortmann
  • Once Upon a Horse (1958) (Universal) ... Ben ... aka Hot Horse (1963 reissue title)

TV guest appearances

  • Playhouse 90 (1956) (Screen Gems TV, CBS) ... Mike ... episode: Requiem for a Heavyweight
  • The Lone Ranger (1957) (The Wrather Corp., ABC) ... Sampson, foreman (uncredited) ... episode: The Law and Miss Aggie
  • Sugarfoot (1957) (Warner Bros. TV, ABC) episode: Angel
  • 77 Sunset Strip (1958) (Warner Bros. TV, ABC) ... Government Man ... episode: Double Trouble
  • 77 Sunset Strip (1958) (Warner Bros. TV, ABC) ... Billy Blackstone ... episode: The Chrome Coffin

External links

  • International Boxing Hall of Fame's article about Max Baer
  • IMDb entry for Max Baer
  • Map to Max Baer Park

Last updated: 02-08-2005 05:16:14
Last updated: 02-28-2005 10:57:03