Lionel Atwill was a noted stage actor who later became a regular in horror films of the 1930s and 1940s. His most famous horror role was the mad sculptor in Mystery of the Wax Museum (Michael Curtiz, 1932), which was later remade as The House of Wax in 1953 (Andre de Toth) with Vincent Price in the same part.
Atwill was born in Croydon, England, in 1885. After a successful career on the London stage he departed for the USA in 1915 and went on tour with the famous Lily Langtry. Appeared on the American stage with most of the leqding ladies of the time--such as Nazimova, Katharine Kornell and Helen Hayes. Began acting in films before the end of the silen era and was soon typecast as a villain. He later said: "Screen villainy is like everything else--just a commercial business. When you have reached my age there are only two things you can do--stock characters, like the heroine's father--or villians."
His horror films include Doctor X (Michael Curtiz, 1932), Vampire Bat (Frank Stryer, 1933), Mark of the Vampire (Tod Browning, 1935), The Gorilla (Alan Dwan, 1939), Son of Frankenstein (Rowland V. Lee, 1939)--Atwill played the police captain with the artificial arm, which provided him with the opportunity of performing a number of hilarious sight gags, many of which were repeated by Kenneth Mars, playing the same character, in Mel Brooks' film Young Frankenstein (1974)--Man-Made Monster (also known as The Electric Man, directed by George Waggner in 1941), Ghost of Frankenstein (Erle C. Kenton, 1942), Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (Roy W. Neill, 1944), House of Frankenstein and House of Dracula (both Erle C. Kenton, 1945). He died in 1946, after contracting pneumonia, aged 61.
--JOHN BROSNAN, from
The Horror People.
A selection of Lionel Atwill films.
Find Lionel Atwill on eBay.com
A selection of Lionel Atwill in books.
A History of Horror
Any comments, additions or suggestions should be adressed to:
History of Horror / Eric B. Olsen / firstname.lastname@example.org
Other Web Sites:
The Film Noir 'net Hard Bop Homepage
The War Film Web Author Eric B. Olsen