1 March 1885|
Croydon, Surrey, England, UK
|Died||22 April 1946
Pacific Palisades, California, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Phyllis Relph (1913-1919) (divorced) 1 child
Elsie Mackay (1919-1928) (divorced)
Henrietta Louise Cromwell Brook MacArthur (1930-1943) (divorced)
Mary Paula Pruter (1944-1946) (his death) 1 child
Lionel Alfred William Atwill (1 March 1885 – 22 April 1946) was an English stage and film actor.
He became a star in Broadway theatre by 1918, and made his screen debut in 1919. He acted on the stage in Australia but was most famous for his U.S. horror film roles in the 1930s. His two most memorable parts were as the crazed, disfigured sculptor in Mystery of the Wax Museum (Warner Brothers, 1933), and as Inspector Krogh in Son of Frankenstein (1939), memorably sent up by Kenneth Mars in Mel Brooks's Young Frankenstein (1974).
When he was not cast in macabre roles, Atwill often appeared in the 1930s as righteous-minded authority figures. For example, in 1937's less memorable The Wrong Road for RKO, investigator Atwill persuades a young, bank-robbing ingenue played by Helen Mack and her boyfriend Richard Cromwell to return their ill-gotten $100,000 and give up a life of crime. Two of Atwill's other notable non-horror roles were opposite his contemporary Basil Rathbone in films featuring Arthur Conan Doyle's character Sherlock Holmes, including a role as Dr. James Mortimer in 20th Century Fox's 1939 film rendition of the Conan Doyle novel The Hound of the Baskervilles, and the 1943 Universal Studios film Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon, in which he played Holmes' archenemy and super-villain, Professor Moriarty.
He remained a stalwart of the Universal horror films until his career flagged in the 1940s because of a widely publicized sex scandal.
He married four times:
- Phyllis Ralph in 1913 and divorced in 1919. In 1941 their son, John Arthur Atwill (born 1914), was killed in action aged 26.
- American actress Elsie Mackay in 1919. (One source claims he had a son, John, with her.) In 1925 Atwill had detectives raid an apartment on Manhattan's 68th Street, where Mackay was found with actor Max Montesole. A divorce was finally granted in March 1928.
- Louise Cromwell Brooks in 1930 and divorced in 1943. She had previously been married to Douglas MacArthur.
- Mary Paula Shilstone (d.2002) in 1944 to his death in 1946. She gave birth to his only surviving child, Lionel Anthony Atwill, now a retired writer.
In 1942, he was indicted with perjury by a jury investigating the 1941 proceeding of a grand jury relative to the alleged occurrence of a sex orgy at his home.
- Doctor X (1932)
- The Vampire Bat (1933)
- Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933)
- The Sphinx (1933)
- The Song of Songs (1933)
- Secret of the Blue Room (1933)
- Murders in the Zoo (1933)
- The Solitaire Man (1933)
- Stamboul Quest (1934)
- Beggars in Ermine (1934)
- Nana (1934)
- The Age of Innocence (1934)
- The Devil Is a Woman (1935)
- Mark of the Vampire (1935)
- The Murder Man (1935)
- Rendezvous (1935)
- Captain Blood (1935)
- Till We Meet Again (1936)
- The Wrong Road (1937)
- The High Command (1937)
- Lancer Spy (1937)
- The Great Garrick (1937)
- Three Comrades (1938)
- The Great Waltz (1938)
- Son of Frankenstein (1939)
- The Three Musketeers (1939)
- The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939)
- The Gorilla (1939)
- Mr. Moto Takes a Vacation (1939)
- Charlie Chan in Panama (1940)
- Johnny Apollo (1940)
- Charlie Chan's Murder Cruise (1940)
- Boom Town (1940)
- Man Made Monster (1941) re-released as The Atomic Monster
- To Be or Not to Be (1942)
- The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942)
- Junior G-Men of the Air (1942 serial)
- Pardon My Sarong (1942)
- Night Monster (1942)
- Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon (1943)
- Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943)
- Secrets of Scotland Yard (1944)
- Captain America (1944 serial)
- Raiders of Ghost City (1944 serial)
- House of Frankenstein (1944)
- Lady in the Death House (1944)
- Crime, Inc. (1945)
- Fog Island (1945)
- House of Dracula (1945)
- Lost City of the Jungle (1946 serial)
- "The Rise of Lionel Atwill", The New York Times, April 14, 1918, p. X6.
- Official Lionel Atwill - Web Site & Fan Club
- "Actor Lionel Atwill's Son Killed in British Air Action". Chicago Tribune. 29/04/1941. Commonwealth War Graves Commission - CWGC record.
- Doug Macauley, Great Character Actors - Lionel Atwill
- Barry Brown, of The Horrors - Profile of Lionel Atwill
- There were two actresses by the name of Elsie Mackay in the 1920s, but the English actress and aviator was known on stage (London and Broadway) and film as Poppy Wyndham. Poppy Wyndham at 'Find a Grave' Many sources conflate the careers of these two actresses, but IMDB makes clear the distinction as Atwill's (ex)wife Elsie Mackay was still performing in 1935, whilst 'Poppy Wyndham' died in an air accident in 1928. IMDB - Disambiguation page for Elsie Mackay
- Official Lionel Atwill - Web Site & Fan Club
- "Lionel Atwill Indicted", The New York Times, July 1, 1942, p. 28.Stage and screen actor indicted
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Lionel Atwill.|
- Lionel Atwill at the Internet Movie Database
- Lionel Atwill at the Internet Broadway Database
- Lionel Atwill at Find a Grave
- Official Lionel Atwill - Web Site & Fan Club at lionelatwillfanclub.tripod.com
- Literature on Lionel Atwill