Paul Willis (actor)

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Paul Willis (April 9, 1901 – November 3, 1960) was an American actor of the silent film era. He began his career as a child actor in the 1910s.[1]

Born in Chicago, Illinois,[2] Willis made his screen debut for Vitagraph Studios at the age of twelve in the title role of the 1913 drama-short Little Kaintuck.[3] He would go on to play a variety of juvenile roles, often opposite child actress Mildred Harris. One notable film starring Willis was the 1914 Edward Dillon-directed comedy-short Bill Goes in Business for Himself which also starred actor and future successful film director Tod Browning. In 1917 Willis appeared opposite the very popular onscreen duo Harold Lockwood and May Allison in the romantic drama The Promise.

Through the 1910s and into the 1920s, Paul Willis would appear opposite such actors as Carmel Myers, Lester Cuneo, Broncho Billy Anderson and Mae Marsh.

Willis is possibly best recalled for his portrayal of Dickon Sowerby in the 1919 Gustav von Seyffertitz-directed film adaptation of the Frances Hodgson Burnett novel The Secret Garden for the Famous Players-Lasky Corporation, in which he appeared opposite actors Lila Lee, Richard Rosson and Spottiswoode Aitken.[1] The film is now considered lost.

Willis retired from acting at age 22. His final film appearance was in the 1923 Tom Forman-directed drama Money! Money! Money!, opposite Katherine MacDonald and Carl Stockdale.

Willis died at the age of 59 in Los Angeles, California in 1960.[2]




  • John Holmstrom, The Moving Picture Boy: An International Encyclopaedia from 1895 to 1995, Norwich, Michael Russell, 1996, p.19.

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