John Warfield Exhibit

Small Town Origins

John Warfield was born in 1925 in the town of Sullivan, Missouri. At the time of his birth, his mother Flora was just 23 years old, while his father, John Daniel Warfield, was 62. The photo of Warfield at right was taken in 1931, at age 6.


Warfield attracted attention at a young age for his prodigious intellect. The article at right, published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 1931, explained that Warfield's "educational age" based on standardized testing was nearly double his actual age. His reading and comprehension were consistently found to be far superior to that of his peers. The article goes to great pains to explain that despite his great intellect, young Warfield was "not abnormal," and enjoyed playing sports and reading comic books.

He began elementary school in the second grade, placed with students a year older than he. He recalled years later that "I was probably seen as a kind of exhibit....I was also the 'runt' of the class."

An Active Student

Warfield attended Sullivan High School, where he maintained excellent marks, and was listed at graduation amongst the "High Ranking Seniors." His graduating class in 1942 was small, with only 45 students. During Commencement Week, Warfield was chosen to read the class poem.

In addition to his high achievements in the classroom, Warfield participated in extracurricular activities such as theater. He is shown at right (standing, center) performing in the farcical play "Faith, Hope, and Flarity." As one of only 9 boys in his graduating class, he had plenty of opportunities to play male roles in theater productions.