Atwill in 1934
1 March 1885|
Croydon, London, UK
22 April 1946 (aged 61)|
Pacific Palisades, California, U.S.
Phyllis Relph (1913–1919) (divorced) 1 child|
Elsie Mackay (1920–1928) (divorced)
Henrietta Louise Cromwell Brook MacArthur (1930–1943) (divorced)
Mary Paula Pruter (1944–1946) (his death) 1 child
Life and career
He became a star in Broadway theatre by 1918 and made his screen debut in 1919. His Broadway credits include The Lodger (1916), The Silent Witness (1930), Fioretta (1928), The Outsider (1924), Napoleon (1927), The Thief (1926), Slaves All (1926), Beau Gallant (1925), Caesar and Cleopatra (1924), The Outsider (1923), The Comedian (1922), The Grand Duke (1921), Deburau (1920), Tiger! Tiger! (1918), Another Man's Shoes (1918), A Doll's House (1917), Hedda Gabler (1917), The Wild Duck (1917), The Indestructible Wife (1917), L'elevation (1917), and Eve's Daughter (1917).
He acted on the stage in Australia before becoming involved in U.S. horror film roles in the 1930s, such as the crazed, disfigured sculptor in Mystery of the Wax Museum (Warner Brothers, 1933), and as Inspector Krogh in Son of Frankenstein (1939).
His other roles include The Wrong Road (1937) for RKO and Dr. James Mortimer in 20th Century Fox's film version of The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939), and Professor Moriarty in the Universal Studios film Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon (1943).
Atwill married four times. His first wife was Phyllis Ralph; the couple married in 1913 and divorced in 1919. In 1941 their son, John Arthur Atwill (born 1914), was killed in action aged 26. Atwill married the actress Elsie Mackay in 1920. He married Louise Cromwell Brooks in 1930, after her divorce from Douglas MacArthur; they divorced in 1943. Atwill married Paula Pruter in 1944, and their marriage continued until his death. Their son, Lionel Anthony Atwill, is a retired writer.
In 1942, Atwill was indicted for perjury by a jury investigating the 1941 proceeding of a grand jury relative to the alleged occurrence of a sex orgy at his home. He was given five years probation, but Hollywood producers and other executives blacklisted him for minor criminal activity. He made small film appearances afterward.
Atwill died on 22 April 1946 of pneumonia at his Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles home. At the time of his death, he was filming the serial Lost City of the Jungle, playing the mastermind villain. Universal Pictures retained the footage already filmed, adapted the story to enhance the villainous role of another character, and used a double for Atwill in some scenes.
- Eve's Daughter (1918)
- For Sale (1918)
- The Marriage Price (1919)
- The Eternal Mother (1920)
- The Highest Bidder (1921)
- The Silent Witness (1932)
- Doctor X (1932)
- The Vampire Bat (1933)
- Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933)
- Murders in the Zoo (1933)
- The Sphinx (1933)
- The Song of Songs (1933)
- Secret of the Blue Room (1933)
- The Solitaire Man (1933)
- The Secret of Madame Blanche (1933)
- The Man Who Reclaimed His Head (1934)
- Nana (1934)
- Beggars in Ermine (1934)
- Stamboul Quest (1934)
- One More River (1934)
- The Firebird (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)
- Lady of Secrets (1936)
- Till We Meet Again (1936)
- Absolute Quiet (1936)
- The Road Back (1937)
- The Last Train from Madrid (1937)
- Lancer Spy (1937)
- The Wrong Road (1937)
- The Great Garrick (1937)
- Three Comrades (1938)
- The High Command (1938)
- The Great Waltz (1938)
- The Mad Empress (1939)
- Son of Frankenstein (1939)
- The Sun Never Sets (1939)
- The Three Musketeers (1939)
- The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939)
- The Gorilla (1939)
- Mr. Moto Takes a Vacation (1939)
- Balalaika (1939)
- The Secret of Dr. Kildare (1939)
- The Great Profile (1940)
- Charlie Chan in Panama (1940)
- Johnny Apollo (1940)
- Charlie Chan's Murder Cruise (1940)
- Boom Town (1940)
- Girl in 313 (1940)
- Man Made Monster (1941) re-released as The Atomic Monster
- To Be or Not to Be (1942)
- The Mad Doctor of Market Street (1942)
- The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942)
- Junior G-Men of the Air (1942 serial)
- Pardon My Sarong (1942)
- Cairo (1942)
- Night Monster (1942)
- The Strange Case of Doctor Rx - Dr. Fish (1942)
- Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon (1943)
- Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943)
- Captain America (1944 serial)
- Lady in the Death House (1944)
- Raiders of Ghost City (1944 serial)
- Secrets of Scotland Yard (1944)
- House of Frankenstein (1944)
- Fog Island (1945)
- Crime, Inc. (1945)
- House of Dracula (1945)
- Lost City of the Jungle (1946 serial)
- Genius at Work (1946)
- "Lionel Atwill, 61, Noted Actor, Dies. Veteran of Stage and Screen Made London Debut in 1904". New York Times. April 23, 1946.
- "The Rise of Lionel Atwill". New York Times. 14 April 1918.
- "("Lionel Atwill" search results)". Playbill Vault. Playbill. Archived from the original on 31 July 2017. Retrieved 31 July 2017.
- "Actor Lionel Atwill's Son Killed in British Air Action". Chicago Tribune. 1941-04-29. Commonwealth War Graves Commission - CWGC record.
- "Lionel Atwill Divorced. Former Louise Cromwell Wins Decree in Washington". New York Times. June 19, 1943.
- "Stage And Screen Actor Indicted". St. Petersburg Times. Associated Press. 1 July 1942.
- "Atwill Pleads Guilty. Actor Admits Perjury in Showing of Lewd Pictures". New York Times. United Press. September 25, 1942.
- Mank, Gregory William (1998). Hollywood's Maddest Doctors. A Biography of Lionel Atwill, Colin Clive and George Zucco. Baltimore MD: Midnight Marquee Press. ISBN 188766422X.
- Smith, Ronald L. (2010). Horror stars on radio, The broadcast histories of 29 chilling Hollywood voices. Jefferson NC: McFarland. ISBN 978-0786445257.
- Pitts, Michael R. (1981). Horror Film Stars. Jefferson NC: McFarland. ISBN 0-89950-004-8.
- Stuart, Ray; Banasiewicz, Czeslaw Z. (1965). Immortals of the Screen. New York: Bonanza Books. ASIN B000OGH3S2.
- Twomey, Alfred E.; McClure, Arthur F. (1969). The Versatiles, A Study of Supporting Character Actors and Actresses in the American Motion Picture, 1930-1955. South Brunswick NJ: A.S. Barnes & Company. ISBN 978-0498067921.
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