Richard Barthelmess

Please add an image!
Birth Date:
Death date:
Extra names:
Richard Barthelmess
Set cemetery

Richard Semler "Dick" Barthelmess (May 9, 1895 – August 17, 1963) was an American film actor. He was nominated for the first Academy Award in the Best Actor category in 1928.

Early life

Barthelmess was educated at Hudson River Military Academy at Nyack and Trinity College at Hartford, Connecticut. His father, Alfred W Barthelmess died when he was one year old and his mother, Caroline Harris, was a stage actress, so he worked in theatres in his early days, between schooling, doing "walk-ons". This led to acting in college and doing amateur productions. By 1919 he had five years in stock company experience.

Russian actress Alla Nazimova, a friend of the family, had been taught English by Barthelmess's mother. Nazimova convinced Barthelmess to try acting professionally and he made his debut screen appearance in 1916 in the serial Gloria's Romance as an uncredited extra. At this time he also appeared as a supporting player in several films starring Marguerite Clark. His next role, in War Brides opposite Nazimova, attracted the attention of legendary director D.W. Griffith, who offered him several important roles, finally casting him opposite Lillian Gish in Broken Blossoms (1919) and Way Down East (1920).

He soon became one of Hollywood's highest paid performers, starring in such classics as The Patent Leather Kid (1927) and The Noose (1928); he was nominated for Best Actor at the first Academy Awards for his performance in both these films, and he won a Special Citation for producing The Patent Leather Kid. He founded his own production company, Inspiration Film Company, together with Charles Duell and Henry King. One of their films, Tol'able David (1921), in which Barthelmess starred as a teenage mailman who finds courage, was a major success.

With the advent of the sound era, Barthelmess' fortunes changed. He made several films in the new medium, most notably Son of the Gods (1930), The Dawn Patrol (1930), The Last Flight (1931), and The Cabin in the Cotton (1932), Central Airport (1933), and a supporting role as Rita Hayworth's character's husband in Only Angels Have Wings (1939).

Post-acting career

Barthelmess failed to maintain the stardom of his silent film days and gradually left entertainment. He enlisted in the United States Navy Reserve during World War II, served as a lieutenant commander, and never returned to film, preferring instead to live off his investments.


Barthelmess died of cancer in 1963, aged 68, and was interred at the Ferncliff Cemetery and Mausoleum in Hartsdale, New York.


He and first wife, stage and screen star Mary Hay, had one daughter Mary Barthelmess. In 1927, Barthelmess became engaged to Katherine Young Wilson, a Broadway actress. However, the engagement was called off, possibly due to his affair about this time with the journalist Adela Rogers St. Johns, and in 1928 he married Jessica Stewart Sargent (1900-1965). He would later adopt her son from a previous marriage, Stewart.


  • Barthelmess is a founder of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
  • For his contribution as an actor, Richard Barthelmess was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
  • Barthelmess is among the second group (1957) recipients of the George Eastman Award, given by George Eastman House for distinguished contribution to the art of film (1957).
  • Composer Katherine Allan Lively dedicated her piano composition, Within the Walls of China: A Chinese Episode, to Barthelmess in the sheet music published in 1923 by G. Schirmer, Inc. An article in The Music Trades reported that Mrs. Lively was inspired by a viewing of the film, Broken Blossoms, and performed the piece for Mr. Barthelmess and his friends in New York in the summer of 1922



  • Gloria's Romance (1916)
  • War Brides (1916)
  • Snow White (1916)
  • Just a Song at Twilight (1916)
  • The Moral Code (1917)
  • The Eternal Sin (1917)
  • The Valentine Girl (1917)
  • The Soul of a Magdalen (1917)
  • The Streets of Illusion (1917)
  • Camille (1917)
  • Bab's Diary (1917)
  • Bab's Burglar (1917)
  • Nearly Married (1917)
  • For Valour (1917)
  • The Seven Swans (1917)
  • Sunshine Nan (1918)
  • Rich Man, Poor Man (1918)
  • Hit-the-Trail Holliday (1918)
  • Wild Primrose (1918)
  • The Hope Chest (1918)
  • Boots (1918)
  • The Girl Who Stayed at Home (1919)
  • Three Men and a Girl (1919)
  • Peppy Polly (1919)
  • Broken Blossoms (1919)
  • I'll Get Him Yet (1919)
  • Scarlet Days (1919)
  • The Idol Dancer (1920)
  • The Love Flower (1920)
  • Way Down East (1920)
  • Experience (1921)
  • Tol'able David (1921)
  • The Seventh Day (1922)
  • Sonny (1922)
  • The Bond Boy (1922)
  • Fury (1923)
  • The Bright Shawl (1923)
  • The Fighting Blade (1923)
  • Twenty-One (1923)
  • The Enchanted Cottage (1924)
  • Classmates (1924)
  • New Toys (1925)
  • Soul-Fire (1925)
  • Shore Leave (1925)
  • The Beautiful City (1925)
  • Just Suppose (1926)
  • Ranson's Folly (1926)
  • The Amateur Gentleman (1926)
  • The White Black Sheep (1926)
  • The Patent Leather Kid (1927)
  • The Drop Kick (1927)
  • The Noose (1928)
  • The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come (1928)
  • Wheel of Chance (1928)
  • Out of the Ruins (1928)
  • Scarlet Seas (1928)
  • Weary River (1929)
  • Drag (1929)
  • Young Nowheres (1929)
  • The Show of Shows (1929)
  • Son of the Gods (1930)
  • The Dawn Patrol (1930)
  • The Lash (1930)
  • The Finger Points (1931)
  • The Last Flight (1931)
  • Alias the Doctor (1932)
  • The Cabin in the Cotton (1932)
  • Central Airport (1933)
  • Heroes for Sale (1933)
  • Massacre (1934)
  • A Modern Hero (1934)
  • Midnight Alibi (1934)
  • Four Hours to Kill! (1935)
  • Spy of Napoleon (1936)
  • Only Angels Have Wings (1939)
  • The Man Who Talked Too Much (1940)
  • The Spoilers (1942)
  • The Mayor of 44th Street (1942)

Short subjects

  • Camille (1926) (home movie by cariacaturist Ralph Barton)
  • The Stolen Jools (1931)
  • How I Play Golf, by Bobby Jones No. 1: The Putter (1931)
  • Starlit Days at the Lido (1935)
  • Meet the Stars #5: Hollywood Meets the Navy (1941)



No places



        Relation nameRelation typeBirth DateDeath dateDescription