Born in Louisville, Kentucky, as George Warren Kerrigan, by 1912, had become the first male movie superstar (he was called "The Great God" by Photoplay magazine; nicknamed "The Gibson Man ").
Kerrigan was a bisexual, an effeminate movie cowboy who had been beaten up as a child because he was "too pretty for a boy." Nevertheless, his on-screen charisma was so irresistible that he became "the first male superstar of the cinema".
While barely in his teens, he worked as a warehouse clerk until a chance arrived to appear in a vaudeville production. He continued to act in traveling stock productions, though he took a brief time away from the stage to attend the University of Illinois.
By the time he was thirty, he had begun to make appearances in films. A contract with the American Film Corporation opened the door to leading roles, often as a well-dressed and elegant man-about-town. Universal Pictures lured him with a better deal and he quickly rose to stardom there.
A glib remark about his refusal to enlist in the American army after the U.S. entry into World War I cost him both sympathy with audiences and the support of the studios. He began to work less frequently and for more minor studios. When director James Cruze cast him as the rugged lead in The Covered Wagon (1923), Kerrigan found himself back on top, appearing in dashing leads in several important pictures, as in Captain Blood (1924).
However, within a year, he decided to abandon his film career while at its zenith. His stardom had given him the freedom to live freely and easily without working, which is how he lived out the rest of his life. Supposedly he made a few small appearances in supporting roles just before his death in Balboa Beach, California, of pneumonia.