Friday, March 1, 2013

A Lionel in the Streets

His roles as a doctor, demented
His rep as a shock star cemented
But X-rated mixers
Were X-mas deep-sixers
No screenplay concocter invented.

Here's Lionel's odd tale of woe:
The wildest of parties he'd throw
With arrest and a scandal
He's at best hot to handle
So he winds up on poverty row.

Actor Lionel Atwill (1 March 1885 – 22 April 1946). Images: The Mad Doctor of Market Street (Joseph H. Lewis-1942); Man Made Monster (George Waggner-1941)

From Brian's Drive-In TheaterAtwill's career nearly came to a halt in 1941, following a Christmas party he hosted in late 1940 that allegedly involved an orgy, a minor, naked guests, and pornographic films. Accused of lying to a jury in 1941 about the alleged orgy he had hosted at his Pacific Palisades home, he was indicted for perjury in October 1942. Trying to protect the identity of his guests, Atwill originally pleaded guilty to the charge and was put on a probation period of five years. However, in April 1943 the actor was allowed to change his plea to not guilty and was exonerated. While many film historians argue that the scandal made Atwill virtually unemployable, in truth his career weathered the scandal amazingly well for the period and he was out of work for only a few months.

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