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Lionel Atwill Lionel Atwill
Born: March 01 1885
Died: April 22, 1946 (at the age of 61)
Lionel Atwill - in Son of Frankenstein with Basil Rathbone

Born Lionel Alfred William Atwill in Croydon, London March 1st 1885. Lionel was born to a wealthy family and was educated at London's prestigious Mercer's School, he first thought of becoming an architect, but he found that his interest quickly turned to the literature and drama, especially the works of William Shakespeare. Somewhere during school he was given the nickname of "Pinky" due to his reddish hair (Which would get darker as he got older).

Lionel Atwill would make his stage debute in October of 1904, at the age of 19, at the Garrick Theatre in London as a footman in the play 'The Walls of Jericho' and would work regularly from there on, touring all over England and Australia. In 1915, Lionel came to America and would appear in around 25 plays between 1917 and 1931. He would become a star of Broadway by 1918 starring in five big productions that year. A New York Times article “Atwill is riveting his position as one of the most valuable stage importations from England in several seasons.” It would be acting in silent films by 1918, starting 'Eve's Daughter' (1918) alongside Billie Burke of 'Wizard of Oz' (Glenda The Good Witch) fame.

Lionel would marry twice during his early days of silent film. First to Phyllis Relph (1913 - 1919) who gave him one son and then to Poppy Wyndham (1920 - 1928).

Lionel did some Vitaphone One or Two Reelers in 1928. Even though Atwill would find fame on stage he was more interested in films, so he left New York in 1931 to concentrate on film. He would reprise his roll from the last play and would be in his first real film (1932) 'Silent Witness'.

Lionel Atwill Atwill, with his wonderful voice and his bullish demeanor, made him perfect for the tough-guy characters. Mad Doctors, Noble Men, Police officals, or Militay Leaders kept him working steady. His next film after 'Silent Winess', he would start him on his career in horror films, (1932) 'Doctor X'. He would work the next films in the horror genre such as (1932) 'The Vampire Bat', (1933) 'Mystery of the Was Museum', (1933) 'Murders in the Zoo' and (1933) 'The Sphinx'. In 1935 brought "Mark of the Vampire' with Lionel Barrymore and Bela Lugosi. He brought the role of Col Bishop to life in 'Captain Blood' (WB, 1935), staring Errol Flynn and Olivia de Haviland. He one of his greatest characters, Inspector Krough, in 'Son of Frankenstein (Universal, 1939) with Basil Rathbone. Who can forget the banter with Rathbone as the play darts (or he slamming the darts into his "Wooden" Left Arm). Another great character role was that of James Mortimer in 'The Hound of the Baskervilles' (20th Century, 1939), again with Basil Rathbone. In (1941) he played Dr. Rigas in 'Man Mad Monster' with Lon Chaney Jr. and Anne Nagel.

Lionel Atwill

On April 28, 1941, Lionel was informed by telegram that his oldest son John Anthony Atwill (an RAF pilot), by first wife Phyllis Relph was killed in action. Lionel collapsed from the news, having just received mail from John a week earlier asking that he come over before he went to war.

Lionel was charged with perjury after being accused of showing 16mm adult films in his home at a 1940 Christmas Party. On May 21, 1941, Lionel sat in the witness chair and denied not only running, but even owning any "stag films." The court tended to believe his statements, probably due to the arm band he wore in honor of his son's death. Later he was called back to court and several of the guests at the party had testified as to events that happened. He stated "I lied like a gentleman . . . to protect friends." Atwill was convicted and sentenced to five years probation in 1941. On April 23rd, 1943 Atwill would later admit that he had lied to the Grand Jury and changed his plea from "guilty" to "not guilty," citing his "abject humiliation" and noting the Hays Office restriction from him working. He applied for, and was granted, termination of his sentence and his record. Judge McKay noted, “which would prevent the defendant from earning a living”, he expunged his record completely so he was no longer a convicted felon. Atwill thanked the Judge and left the court room in tears.

Lionel Atwill

Lionel was unemployed during his sentance and his third wife Henrietta Louise Cromwell Brook MacArthur (ex-wife of General Douglas MacArthur) divorced him on June 18, 1943). He had already fallen in love with his forth wife Mary Paula Pruter and was married on July 7, 1944 in Las Vegas. She was the daughter of a Texas oilman and was a radio writer, producer and singer.

The Hays Office effectively blacklisted him from the top studios for his disgrace and unfortuanatly Hollywood did seem to turn there back on the great actor and he tried for roles on Broadway, also to no avail. He would go west again and finally find employement in Poverty Row (PRC). He did have a few bit parts and serials at Universal Studio, but most of his work was with PRC. During the making of 'The Lost City of the Jungle' (1946) Lionel bacame sick and was replaced by the stunt double George Soul who was hired to complete his scenes.

Lionel's son (by last wife, Mary Paula Pruter), Lionel Anthoney Guille Atwill, was born on Sunday, October 14, 1945 when Lionel was 60 years of age. He would die six months later.

Lionel Atwill

Lionel died April 22, 1946 at the age of 61 from bronchial cancer and pneumonia at his home. His body was cremated at Pierce Bros. Mortuary in Santa Monica, California. His ashes are stored at the Chapel of the Pines crematory, in a subterranean vault along with the ashes of many other Hollywood people. No visitors are allowed to visit the vault and most employees are also restricted. He was a wonderful actor that will be missed but we do have much of his work still to be enjoyed.

Lionel Atwill

------------ Films -----------
(1946)Genius at Work Latimer Marsh/The Cobra
(1946)Lost City of the Jungle Sir Eric Hazarias
(1945)House of Dracula Police Inspector Holtz
(1945)Crime, Inc. Pat Coyle
(1945)Fog Island Alec Ritchfield
(1944)House of Frankenstein Inspector Arnz
(1944)Secrets of Scotland Yard Waterlow
(1944)Raiders of Ghost City Erich von Rugen, alias Alex Morel
(1944)Lady in the Death House Charles Finch
(1944)Captain America Dr. Cyrus Maldor
(1943)Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man Mayor
(1943)Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon Professor James Moriarty
(1942)Night Monster (aka House of Mystery) Dr. King
(1942)Cairo Teutonic gentleman
(1942)Pardon My Sarong Dr. Varnoff
(1942)Junior G-Men of the Air The Baron
(1942)The Strange Case of Doctor Rx Dr. Fish
(1942)The Ghost of Frankenstein Doctor Bohmer
(1942)To Be or Not to Be Rawitch
(1942)The Mad Doctor of Market Street Dr. Ralph Benson, posing as Graham
(1941)Man Made Monster Dr. Paul Rigas
(1940)Boom Town Mr. Harry Compton
(1940)The Great Profile Dr. Bruce
(1940)Girl in 313 Russell aka Henry Woodruff
(1940)Charlie Chan's Murder Cruise Dr. Suderman
(1940)Johnny Apollo Jim McLaughlin
(1940)Charlie Chan in Panama Cliveden Compton
(1939)The Mad Empress General Bazaine
(1939)Balalaika Prof. Marakov
(1939)The Secret of Dr. Kildare Paul Messenger
(1939)Mr. Moto Takes a Vacation Prof. Hildebrand
(1939)The Sun Never Sets Dr. Hugo Zurof
(1939)The Gorilla Walter Stevens
(1939)The Hound of the Baskervilles James Mortimer, M.D.
(1939)The Three Musketeers De Rochefort
(1939)Son of Frankenstein Krogh
(1938)The Great Waltz Count Anton 'Tony' Hohenfried
(1938)Three Comrades Franz Breuer
(1937)The Great Garrick M. Beaumarchais
(1937)The Wrong Road Mike Roberts
(1937)Lancer Spy Col. Fenwick
(1937)The Last Train from Madrid Col. Vigo
(1937)The Road Back Prosecutor
(1936)Absolute Quiet Gerald 'G.A. Axton
(1936)Till We Meet Again Ludwig
(1936)Lady of Secrets Mr. Whittaker
(1936)The High Command Maj. Gen. Sir John Sangye, VC
(1935)Captain Blood Col. Bishop
(1935)Rendezvous Maj. William Brennan
(1935)The Murder Man Police Capt. Cole
(1935)The Devil Is a Woman Capt. Don Pasqual 'Pasqualito' Costelar
(1935)Mark of the Vampire Inspector Neumann
(1934)The Man Who Reclaimed His Head Henry Dumont
(1934)The Firebird John Pointer
(1934)The Age of Innocence Julius Beaufort
(1934)One More River Brough
(1934)Stamboul Quest Herr Von Sturm
(1934)Beggars in Ermine John 'Flint' Dawson aka John Daniels
(1934)Nana Col. Andre Muffat
(1933)The Solitaire Man Inspector Wallace
(1933)Secret of the Blue Room Robert von Helldorf
(1933)The Song of Songs Baron von Merzbach
(1933)The Sphinx Jerome Breen
(1933)Murders in the Zoo Eric Gorman
(1933)Mystery of the Wax Museum Ivan Igor
(1933)The Secret of Madame Blanche Aubrey St. John
(1933)The Vampire Bat Dr. Otto von Niemann
(1932)Doctor X Dr. Jerry Xavier
(1932)Silent Witness Sir Austin Howard
(1929)The Knife
(1921)The Highest Bidder Lester
(1920)The Eternal Mother Howard Hollister
(1919)The Marriage Price Kenneth Gordon
(1918)For Sale Undetermined Role
(1918)Eve's Daughter Courtenay Urquhart

------------ Broadway Plays -----------
Mar 23, 1931 -
Jun 1931
The Silent Witness Sir Austin Howard
Dec 01, 1930 -
Dec 1930
A Kiss of Importance (Staged by Atwill)
(w/Basil Rathbone & Fredrick Kerr)
Dec 27, 1929 -
Jan 1930
Seven (Staged by Atwill)
Oct 21, 1929 -
Nov 1929
Stripped (Staged by Atwill) M'sieu Lazlov
Sep 16, 1929 -
Oct 1929
A Strong Man's House (Staged by Atwill)
Feb 05, 1929 -
May 11, 1929
Fioretta Count Matteo Di Brozzo
Apr 09, 1928 -
May 1928
The Outsider
(Produced and Staged by Atwill)
Anton Ragatzy
Mar 08, 1928 -
Mar 1928
Napoleon Napoleon
Nov 16, 1927 -
Nov 1927
The King Can Do No Wrong Baron Reus
Apr 22, 1927 -
Jul 1927
The Thief (Staged by Atwill) Richard Voysin
Dec 06, 1926 -
Dec 1926
Slaves All John Rigordan
Nov 11, 1926 -
Dec 1927
The Squall (Staged by Atwill)
Apr 05, 1926 -
Apr 1926
Beau Gallant Caton Beal Carrington
Apr 13, 1925 -
May 1925
Caesar and Cleopatra
(w/ Helen Hayes)
Julius Caesar
Mar 03, 1924 -
Jun 1924
The Outsider Anton Ragatzy
Mar 13, 1923 -
May 1923
The Comedian The Comedian
Nov 01, 1921 -
Mar 1922
The Grand Duke Grand Duke Feodor Michaelovitch
Dec 23, 1920 -
Jun 1921
(w/ Sidney Toler)
Jean-Gaspard Deburau
Nov 12, 1918 -
Apr 1919
Tiger! Tiger! Clive Cooper, M.P.
Sep 12, 1918 -
Sep 1918
Another Man's Shoes
Apr 29, 1918 -
May 1918
A Doll's House
Apr 08, 1918 -
Apr 1918
Hedda Gabler
Mar 11, 1918 -
Apr 1918
The Wild Duck
Jan 30, 1918 -
Feb 1918
The Indestructible Wife
Nov 14, 1917 -
Dec 1917
Oct 11, 1917 -
Nov 1917
Eve's Daughter
Jan 08, 1917 -
The Lodger (Performed and Directed by Atwil)

Copyright © 2009 - 2015 by the author, Jess Oliver. All rights reserved