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Richard Barthelmess

Richard Barthelmess

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Also Known As: Richard Semler Barthelmess Died: August 17, 1963
Born: May 9, 1895 Cause of Death: throat cancer
Birth Place: New York City, New York, USA Profession: actor, producer

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

One of the bright lights of the silent era, Richard Barthelmess began in supporting roles and gradually worked his way up to lead parts. He hit the big time with D.W. Griffith's hit film "Broken Blossoms or the Yellow Man and the Girl" (1919), in which he gave a compelling performance as a Chinese man in love with a Caucasian woman (Lillian Gish). The following year, he reunited with Griffith and Gish for "Way Down East" (1920), the highlight of which featured Barthelmess risking his life for real by jumping from one unsteady ice floe to another in the midst of a winter storm. The New York native continued his string of successes with pictures like "Tol'able David" (1921) and was one of the original founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Although he made the transition to talkies, his popularity eventually began to wane. To try and ensure continued employment, Barthelmess underwent plastic surgery, but the procedure failed and left him scarred. After three years away from acting, Howard Hawks convinced him to return in "Only Angels Have Wings" (1939) and Barthelmess gave a strong turn with his facial imperfections in plain view at the director's request. Largely forgotten in...

One of the bright lights of the silent era, Richard Barthelmess began in supporting roles and gradually worked his way up to lead parts. He hit the big time with D.W. Griffith's hit film "Broken Blossoms or the Yellow Man and the Girl" (1919), in which he gave a compelling performance as a Chinese man in love with a Caucasian woman (Lillian Gish). The following year, he reunited with Griffith and Gish for "Way Down East" (1920), the highlight of which featured Barthelmess risking his life for real by jumping from one unsteady ice floe to another in the midst of a winter storm. The New York native continued his string of successes with pictures like "Tol'able David" (1921) and was one of the original founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Although he made the transition to talkies, his popularity eventually began to wane. To try and ensure continued employment, Barthelmess underwent plastic surgery, but the procedure failed and left him scarred. After three years away from acting, Howard Hawks convinced him to return in "Only Angels Have Wings" (1939) and Barthelmess gave a strong turn with his facial imperfections in plain view at the director's request. Largely forgotten in later years, Barthelmess deserved the notoriety he gained at the height of his career and was also worthy of later celebration beyond the core of silent film enthusiasts who helped keep his memory alive.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 The Great Chase (1962)
2.
 The Spoilers (1942) Bronco Kid [Farrow]
3.
 The Mayor of 44th Street (1942) Ed Kirby
4.
 The Man Who Talked Too Much (1940) J. B. Roscoe
5.
 Only Angels Have Wings (1939) Bat MacPherson
6.
 Four Hours to Kill! (1935) Tony Mako
7.
 Massacre (1934) Joe Thunder Horse
8.
 A Modern Hero (1934) Pierre [Radier later known as Paul Rader]
9.
 Midnight Alibi (1934) Lance McGowan/Robert Anders
10.
 Heroes for Sale (1933) Tom [Holmes]
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Began film career as an extra
1916:
Film acting debut (bit) in serial, "Gloria's Romance"
1916:
Discovered by Russian actress Nazimova while she was being taught English by his mother; cast in leading role opposite her in "War Brides"
1920:
Founded Inspiration Pictures which produced some 15 features in five years; 12 starring Barthelmess, eight directed by Henry King
1926:
Sold Inspiration to First National, though some films continued to be released as Inspiration productions
1927:
Received Oscar nomination for first film under acting contract to First National, "The Patent Leather Kid"
1929:
Acted in his first talking picture, "Weary River"
1936:
Appeared on the New York stage in "The Postman Always Rings Twice"
1939:
Returned to film after almost four years to play supporting role in Howard Hawks' "Only Angels Have Wings"
1942:
Last film, "The Spoilers"
1942:
Joined the Naval Reserve
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Trinity College: Hartford , Connecticut -

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Mary Hay. Ziegfeld chorus girl. Born in Fort Bliss, Texas on August 22, 1901; married in June 1920; divorced in 1926; died in Inverness, California on June 4, 1957.
wife:
Jessica Stewart Sargent. Married in 1929; survived him.

Family close complete family listing

mother:
Caroline Harris. Actor, vocal coach.
daughter:
Mary Hay Bradley. Mother, Mary Hay.
son:
Stewart Barthelmess. Born to second wife and adopted by Barthelmess when they married.

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