World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Lionel Atwill

Article Id: WHEBN0002091537
Reproduction Date:

Title: Lionel Atwill  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Mystery of the Wax Museum, Doctor X (film), List of American films of 1936, 1933 in film, List of American films of 1933
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Lionel Atwill

Lionel Atwill
Born (1885-03-01)1 March 1885
Croydon, Surrey, England, UK
Died 22 April 1946(1946-04-22) (aged 61)
Pacific Palisades, California, U.S.
Occupation Actor
Years active 1905–1946
Spouse(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

Lionel Alfred William Atwill (1 March 1885 – 22 April 1946) was an English stage and film actor.


Early life

He was born on March 1, 1885 in Croydon, Surrey, England. He studied architecture before his stage debut at the Garrick Theatre, London, in 1904.


He became a star in Broadway theatre by 1918,[1] 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.[2]

He remained a stalwart of the Universal horror films until his career flagged in the 1940s because of a widely publicized sex scandal.

Personal life

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.[3]
  • American actress Elsie Mackay in 1920[4] (one source claims he had a son, John, with her).[5] 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.[6]
  • 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.[7] 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.[8]

He died while working on the 1946 film serial Lost City of the Jungle. His ashes were once interred in Chapel of the Pines Crematory.

Partial filmography


  1. ^ "The Rise of Lionel Atwill", The New York Times, April 14, 1918, p. X6.
  2. ^ Official Lionel Atwill - Web Site & Fan Club
  3. ^ "Actor Lionel Atwill's Son Killed in British Air Action".   Commonwealth War Graves Commission - CWGC record.
  4. ^ Condé Nast
  5. ^ Great Character Actors - Lionel Atwill at the Wayback Machine (archived February 28, 2002)
  6. ^ 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
  7. ^ Official Lionel Atwill - Web Site & Fan Club
  8. ^ "Lionel Atwill Indicted", The New York Times, July 1, 1942, p. 28.Stage and screen actor indicted


External links

Media related to at Wikimedia Commons

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from School eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.