Frank C. Baxter

Francis Condie Baxter (May 4, 1896 – January 18, 1982) was an American TV personality and educator.[1] He was a professor of English at the University of Southern California. Baxter hosted Telephone Time in 1957 and 1958 when ABC picked up the program and ended the tenure of John Nesbitt. During the 1950s, his program Shakespeare on TV won seven Emmy Awards.[2]


Frank C. Baxter
Baxter in Our Mr. Sun
Francis Condie Baxter

(1896-05-04)May 4, 1896
DiedJanuary 18, 1982(1982-01-18) (aged 85)
Alma materUniversity of Pennsylvania
Cambridge University (Ph.D.)
OccupationProfessor, Actor
EmployerUniversity of Southern California
Known forEducational television
Notable work
The Bell System Science Series
TelevisionOur Mr. Sun, Hemo the Magnificent
Spouse(s)Lydia Foulke Spencer Morris


Born in Newbold, New Jersey, and served in the Army Medical Corps during the final year of World War I. Baxter attended the University of Pennsylvania he had financed himself with scholarships and university jobs through undergraduate (1926) and master’s degrees (1928). Shortly before departing for England and Cambridge University in 1928, he married Lydia Morris, who had been his student at the University of Pennsylvania. Baxter completed his Cambridge doctorate in English literature in 1932, two years after he had begun teaching at USC.[2]

Baxter is best remembered for his appearances from 1956–1962 as "Dr. Research" in the Bell System Science Series of television specials. These films became a staple in American classrooms from the 1960s through the 1980s. The Bell System Science Series combined scientific footage, live actors and animation to convey scientific concepts and history in a lively, entertaining way; and the bald, bespectacled and affable Baxter served as narrator, lecturer and host. These films made Baxter (who was not a scientist) something of a scientific icon among baby boomers. Several of Baxter's science films have been released on DVD.[3]

Baxter also appeared (as himself) in a prologue to the 1956 film The Mole People, in which he gave a brief history of theories of life beneath the surface of the earth.[4]

In 1966, Baxter hosted a popular TV series called The Four Winds to Adventure, featuring filmmakers exploring little-known areas of the world, whether across continents, oceans, or local people and animals in a particular region.

Baxter died in 1982 in Pasadena, California; he was 85.[5] His body was cremated, but his ashes were scattered in Colorado, not placed in a vault in California as some sources maintain.


In 1959, Baxter won the inaugural Golden Gavel award of Toastmasters International.[6] Baxter has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 1960, he won the Southland Emmy Award as Outstanding Male Personality for his work at KRCA-TV in Los Angeles, California.[7]

Selected filmography

Except as noted, this filmography is based on the credits listed at the Internet Movie Database.[8]


  1. Templeton, David (September 23, 1999). "Weird Science: Are Dr. Frank Baxter and those wacky Bell Science films ready for a comeback?". Sonoma County Independent. San Jose, California: Metro Newspapers. ISSN 1074-309X. OCLC 29676731. Retrieved April 27, 2011.
  2. Stewart, David (January 1996). "Frank Baxter, Television's First Man of Learning". Current. Takoma Park, Maryland: Current LLC. Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved December 7, 2015.
  3. " Our Mr. Sun/Strange Case of the Cosmic Rays: Eddie Albert: Movies & TV". Archived from the original on 2016-03-02.
  4. Screen Sirens Scream
  5. Current
  6. "Toastmasters International - Golden Gavel Award". Toastmasters International. Archived from the original on 2011-05-21. Retrieved 2013-02-05.
  7. Vernon, Terry (October 29, 1960). "Tele-Vues". Independent. p. 11. Retrieved March 17, 2015 via
  8. Frank Baxter on IMDb
  9. Healy, John Lovejoy (June 1965). A critical study of Frank C. Baster's Shakespeare on TV (Ph.D.). University of Southern California Library. OCLC 57149280. Retrieved 2015-12-07.
  10. An Age of Kings: an import becomes public TV’s first hit, David Stewart, Current, December 21, 1998

Further reading

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