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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: Cast ... actor producer
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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 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.

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