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Famous Like Me > Actor > B > Max Baer

Profile of Max Baer on Famous Like Me

Name: Max Baer  
Also Know As:
Date of Birth: 11th February 1909
Place of Birth: Omaha, Nebraska, USA
Profession: Actor
From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia
This article is about the boxer and actor. For an article about his actor son, see: Max Baer, Jr.
Max Baer
Nickname Livermore Larupper
Division Heavyweight
Born February 11, 1909
Died November 21, 1959
Birth place Omaha, Nebraska
Home town Livermore, California
Style Orthodox
Boxing record
Total fights 84
Wins 71
KOs 53
Losses 10
Draws 0
No contests 0

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


He was born Maximilian Adelbert Baer in Omaha, Nebraska, the son of German-Jewish immigrant Jacob Baer (1875-1938) and Dora Bales (1877-1938). His older sister was Fanny Baer (1905-1991), and his younger sister and brother were Bernice Baer (1911-1987) and boxer-turned actor Buddy Baer (1915-1986).

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 (brother of Brooklyn Dodgers Hall Of Famer Adolph Camilli) on August 25, 1930 in San Francisco and knocked him out. Campbell never regained consciousness. After lying on the canvas for nearly an hour, Campbell was finally transported by ambulance to a nearby hospital where he eventually died of extensive brain hemorrages. An autopsy revealed that Baer's devastating blows had knocked Campbell's entire brain loose from the connective tissue holding it in place within his cranium. This fatality shocked Baer; according to his son, Max Baer, Jr., he cried and had nightmares over the incident for decades afterwards. He was charged with manslaughter. Although he was eventually acquitted of all charges, the California State Boxing Commission still banned him from any in-ring activity within their state for the next year. 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, and Baer put Campbell's children through college.

Baer beat the likes of Walter Cobb and Kingfish Levinsky. In 1933, he boxed Max Schmeling (with a Star of David embroidered on his trunks , which he swore to wear in every bout thereafter) at Yankee Stadium, dominating the rugged German fighter into the tenth round when the referee stopped the match.

Because he defeated Hitler's favorite, and had a Jewish paternal grandfather, he became a hero to the Jewish people, although he was raised Catholic in accordance with his mother's faith.

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 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 Baer's upcoming opponent, Primo Carnera, as himself, who Steve challenges for the championship, and Jack Dempsey, as himself, former Heavyweight Champ, acting as the referee.

On March 29, 1934, The Prizefighter and the Lady was officially banned from playing in Germany at the behest of Joseph Goebbels, then Minister of Propaganda and Public Entertainment, even though it received favorable reviews in local newspapers as well as in the Nazi publications.

When an official at the Ministry of Propaganda was asked, "Is the film barred because Max Baer is a Jew?" he snapped, "Ja." When contacted for comment at Lake Tahoe, Baer said, "They didn't ban the picture because I have Jewish blood. They banned it because I knocked out Max Schmeling."

Baer was Heavyweight Champion of the World from June 14, 1934, when he knocked out Primo Carnera, to June 13, 1935, when he lost to Jim Braddock in New York. The Braddock bout was depicted in the 2005 motion picture Cinderella Man; the portrayal of Baer in that film has been criticized.

He had two wives, actress Dorothy Dunbar (married July 8, 1931-divorced 1933) and Mary Ellen Sullivan (married June 29, 1935-his death 1959). With Sullivan, he had three children, actor Max Baer, Jr. (born 1937), James Baer (born 1941) and Maude Baer (born 1943).

During a separation from his first wife, Max had an affair with movie star Jean Harlow. He 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. 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 four professional fights from 1929 to 1941. In all, his record was 72-12-0 (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 "Africa Screams" with Abbott and Costello, and made several TV guest appearances. 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, 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."


  • Amateur boxing: unknown
  • Professional boxing: 84 Fights 71 Wins 53 KOs 13 Loses 0 Draw


  • World Heavyweight Champion


  • 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


  • Los Angeles Times, March 30, 1934, pg. 12, Germany Bans Film Of Baer

This content from Wikipedia is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Max Baer