Lionel Atwill (Lionel Atwill)

Lionel Atwill

Actor. He is probably best remembered for his horror films of the 1930s and 1940s. He was born Lionel Alfred William Atwell in Corydon, London, England into a wealthy family, and was educated at London’s prestigious Mercer School to become an architect, but his interest turned to the stage. He worked his way progressively into the craft and debuted at age 20 at the Garrick Theatre in London. In 1915 he came to the US, appearing in some 25 plays on Broadway between 1917 and 1931, but by 1918 he was already trying his hand in silent films. He did some Vitaphone short subjects in 1928 and then his first real film role in “Silent Witness” (1932) (also titled “The Verdict”). His two most memorable parts were as the crazed, disfigured sculptor in “Mystery of the Wax Museum” (1933), and as Inspector Krogh in “Son of Frankenstein” (1939). Other memorable films in which he starred include “The Devil is a Woman” (1935, co-starring Marlene Dietrich), “The Three Musketeers” (1939), “The Hound of the Baskervilles” (1939, with Basil Rathbone), in which he played Doctor James Mortimer, “Charlie Chan in Panama” (1940), “Son of Frankenstein” (1941), “The Ghost of Frankenstein” (1942), “Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man” (1942), and “Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon” (1943, with Basil Rathbone), in which he played Holmes’ archenemy and super-villain, Professor Moriarty. He remained a stalwart of the Universal Studios horror films until his career faltered in the 1940s because of a widely publicized sex scandal in 1941, during the investigation of which he was charged in 1942 with perjury at a trial in which he had been accused of staging a sex orgy at his home and was convicted and sentenced to five years’ probation. He was married four times, the first to Phyllis Ralph (1913 to 1919), then to American actress Elsie Mackay (1919 to 1928), American socialite Louise Cromwell Brooks (1930 to 1943, previously married to General Douglas MacArthur) and Mary Paula Shilstone (1944 to his death in 1946). He died of pneumonia at the age of 61 while working on the 1946 film serial “Lost City of the Jungle. During his acting career he appeared in nearly 50 films. (bio by: William Bjornstad)  Family links:  Spouses:  Phyllis Mary Relph (1888 – ____)*  Elsie Mackay (1893 – 1928)*  Henrietta Louise Cromwell Brooks (1890 – 1965)* *Calculated relationship


  • March, 01, 1885
  • England


  • April, 04, 1946
  • USA


  • Chapel Of The Pines Crematory
  • California
  • USA

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