Note: We're not talking here about Bugs Bunny, but the second winner of the Academy Award for "Best Actor". It's a post about live-action.
One hundred and ten years ago today, the actor Warner Baxter (seen above) was born. He won himself an Oscar thirty-nine years after his arrival into the world because of a bounding jackrabbit.
The year was 1928. Veteran director Raoul Walsh was already deep into production of the Western "In Old Arizona", one of the first sound films to be shot outdoors and on location. Walsh, who had started as an actor before becoming a director of big-budget movie epics like "The Thief of Baghdad" and "What Price Glory" was also starring in front of the camera as the Cisco Kid. (He had portrayed John Wilkes Booth in "The Birth of a Nation").
But mid-production, a jackrabbit leaped through the windshield of Walsh's car as it sped through the desert. Glass shattered, and in those days before safety glass, Raoul Walsh lost an eye.
Walsh also lost (obviously) the ability to continue in the role of the Kid. Or direct the picture. Irving Cummings stepped in to helm the feature, and Warner Baxter took over the role of Cisco. Several months later, Baxter won himself an Oscar for the role.
Warner Baxter went on to star in "A" pictures throughout the 1930s, and by the middle of the decde was the highest paid actor in Hollywood. His career gradually declined, however, and he shifted to lower-level programmers in the 1940s (along with smaller paychecks). Only vaguely remembered today, he died in 1951 at age 62.
And Raoul Walsh? He recovered from the encounter with the jackrabbit, and went on directing movies for the next forty years. Most were high-budget productions, and Mr. Walsh put most of the major stars* of the era through their paces. He retired in 1964 and died in 1980 at the age of 93.
* The biggies Walsh directed include James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart, Clark Gable, John Wayne, Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Marlene Dietrich, Robert Mitchum, Gregory Peck, Gary Cooper and numerous others. (Director John Ford observed late in life that he and Walsh were often mistaken for one another, since they both wore eye patches.)