Lionel Atwill, Horror Star’s Hollywood Sex Scandal


Lionel Atwill faces-off with Frankenstein's Monster, played by Boris Karloff

Lionel Atwill faces-off with Frankenstein’s Monster, played by Boris Karloff


Today sex scandals seem to do little, if anything, to damage a celebrity’s career. In fact, the accused often seem to benefit from the notoriety which can often relaunch their careers. This was not the case some 60 years ago when a series of trials besmirched the reputation of the English Universal Horror Star Lionel Atwill. STEPHEN JACOBS reports …


Lionel AtwillLionel Atwill was born in Croydon, Surrey, England on 1st March 1885. Educated at Mercer School in London, Atwill began a stage career in 1904 when he made his theatrical debut as a footman in the comedy The Walls of Jericho at London’s Garrick Theatre. In 1915, after touring England and Australia, he arrived in America with Lily Langtry to appear in the comedy Mrs Thompson. Two years later he was both directing and starring in the play The Lodger on Broadway with his then wife, Phyllis Relph. Within a year he had made his motion picture debut.

In 1930, following his divorce from Phyllis, Atwill married the multi-millionairess Louise Cromwell Brooks, the ex-wife of General Douglas MacArthur.

In December 1931, he began work on the courtroom drama The Silent Witness. It was his first Hollywood picture and he enjoyed the experience. “I’m one of those few stage actors who really like the films,” he said, “and admit it.”
Soon he appeared in Dr X, the first of three horror movies he made with Fay Wray. The Vampire Bat and Mystery of the Wax Museum (both 1933) completed the trilogy.

Author: The Spooky Isles

Share This Post On

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>