Sunday, 19 August 2012
Richard Semler "Dick" Barthelmess (1895 – 1963) was an Oscar-nominated silent film star.
Barthelmess was educated at Hudson River Military Academy at Nyack and Trinity College at Hartford, Connecticut. His father died when he was a baby 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, doing amateur productions. Russian actress Alla Nazimova, a friend of the family, had been taught English by Barthelmess's mother.
Nazimova in return convinced Barthelmess to try acting professionally and he made his first film appearance in 1916 in the serial Gloria's Romance as an extra. At this time he also appeared as a supporting player in several films starring Marguerite Clark. His next role, in War Brides opposite Alla 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). Read more on Wikipedia
Lowry held the film Broken Blossoms, in which Barthelmess starred, in high esteem; "I see it as one of the greatest and most moving films of all time, one that is also a return to a great tradition of the movies, something that should combine the emotional impact of Griffith's Broken Blossoms....." (Collected Letters Vol 2 Pg. 171). Lowry refers to The Amateur Gentleman, in which Barthelmess starred in his novel Ultramarine when Dana on a drunken drift around Tsjang Tsjang (Dairen) sees signs for the film on 6 occasions; Richard Barthelmess in 'The Amateur Gentleman' (Pgs. 85, 96, 104, 109, 115 and 118); Popplereuter spells out "'Richard Barthelmess in The Amateur Gentleman. A smashing drama of the good old days of Merrie England! Next week!' " (Pg.96); "The Amateur Gentleman?" (Pg. 116).