Richard Semler Barthelmess (Richard Semler Barthelmess)

Richard Semler Barthelmess

Actor. He was one of the founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Born in New York City, New York, his father died when he was an infant and his mother was a stage actress. Growing up, he did theater work as a “walk-on” which eventually led to performing in amateur stage productions in college. He received his education at the Hudson River Military Academy at Nyack, New York and Trinity College at Hartford, Connecticut. He made his first film appearance in 1916 in the serial “Gloria’s Romance” as an extra and also appeared as a supporting player in several films starring actress Marguerite Clark. His next role was in “War Brides” opposite Russian actress Alla Nazimova, which attracted the attention of legendary director D.W. Griffith who cast him opposite actress Lillian Gish in “Broken Blossoms” (1919) and “Way Down East” (1920). He founded his own production company, Inspiration Film Company, together with Charles Duell and Henry King, and in one of their films, “Tol’able David” (1921) and gave one of his best performances as a lad who saves the US mail from the outlaws. He soon became one of Hollywood’s highest paid performers, starring in such classics for First National Pictures as “The Patent Leather Kid” (1927) and “The Noose” (1928). He was nominated for Best Actor at the first Academy Awards for his performance in both these films, and he won a Special Citation for producing “The Patent Leather Kid.” With the advent of “talkies,” his acting techniques were not well suited for sound films and his fortunes took a downward turn. He made several films in the new medium, most notably “Son of the Gods” (1930), “The Dawn Patrol” (1930), “The Last Flight” (1931), “The Cabin in the Cotton” (1932), “Central Airport” (1933), and had an outstanding performance role as Rita Hayworth’s character’s husband in “Only Angels Have Wings” (1939). During World War II, he enlisted in the United States Navy Reserve and served as a lieutenant commander. He never returned to acting, preferring instead to live off his real estate investments. During his career, he appeared in over 70 films. He died of cancer at the age of 68. He was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contribution as an actor and was a recipient of the George Eastman Award for distinguished contribution to the art of film. (bio by: William Bjornstad)  Family links:  Parents:  Alfred W. Barthelmess (1861 – 1896)  Caroline W. Harris Barthelmess (1866 – 1937)  Spouses:  Jessica Barthelmess (1900 – 1965)*  Mary Hay Caldwell Hastings (1901 – 1957)*  Children:  Stewart Barthelmess (1923 – ____)* *Calculated relationship


  • May, 09, 1895
  • USA


  • August, 08, 1963
  • USA


  • Ferncliff Cemetery and Mausoleum
  • USA

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