Richard Arlen

Richard Arlen (born Sylvanus Richard Mattimore, September 1, 1899[2] – March 28, 1976) was an American actor of film and television.

Richard Arlen
Arlen in 1932
Sylvanus Richard Mattimore

(1899-09-01)September 1, 1899
DiedMarch 28, 1976(1976-03-28) (aged 76)
Resting placeHoly Cross Cemetery, Culver City, California
Alma materUniversity of Pennsylvania
Years active1921–1976
Ruth Austin
(m. 1920; div. 1923)

Jobyna Ralston
(m. 1927; div. 1946)

Margaret Kinsella
(m. 1946)
Military career
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
UnitRoyal Flying Corps
Battles/warsWorld War I


Born in St. Paul, Minnesota, Arlen attended the University of Pennsylvania. He served in Canada as a pilot in the Royal Flying Corps during World War I. After the war, he went to the oilfields of Texas and Oklahoma and found work as a tool boy. He was thereafter a messenger and sporting editor of a newspaper before going to Los Angeles to act in films, but no producer wanted him. He was a delivery boy for a film laboratory when the motorcycle which he was riding landed him a broken leg outside the Paramount Pictures lot. A sympathetic film director gave him his start as an extra. He appeared at first in silent films before making the transition to talkies. His first important film role was in Vengeance of the Deep (1923).

He took time out from his Hollywood career to teach as a United States Army Air Forces flight instructor in World War II.

Arlen is best known for his role as a pilot in the Academy Award-winning Wings (1927) with Clara Bow, Charles 'Buddy' Rogers, Gary Cooper, El Brendel, and his second wife, Jobyna Ralston, whom he married in 1927. He was among the more famous residents of the celebrity enclave, Toluca Lake, California.[3] He married New York socialite, Margaret Kinsella, in 1946.[4]

In 1939, Universal teamed him with Andy Devine for a series of 14 B-pictures, mostly action-comedies with heavy reliance on stock footage from larger-scale films. They are informally known as the "Aces of Action" series, which is how the stars were billed in the trailers. When Arlen left the studio in 1941, the series continued with Devine teamed with a variety of other actors.

In the 1950s and early 1960s, Arlen was active in television, having guest starred in several anthology series, including Playhouse 90, The Loretta Young Show, The 20th Century Fox Hour, and in three episodes of the series about clergymen, Crossroads.

In 1960, Arlen was inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame with a motion pictures star at 6755 Hollywood Boulevard for his contributions to the film industry.[5]

In 1968, he appeared on Petticoat Junction...playing himself. The episode was called "Wings" and it was in direct reference to the 1927 silent movie Wings.

Arlen appeared in westerns, such as Lawman, Branded, Bat Masterson, Wanted: Dead or Alive, Wagon Train, and Yancy Derringer, and in such drama/adventure programs like Ripcord, Whirlybirds, Perry Mason, The New Breed, Coronado 9, and Michael Shayne.


On his death from emphysema in 1976, Arlen was interred at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.



Short subjects

  • A Trip Through the Paramount Studio (1927) as Himself
  • Hollywood on Parade No. A-6 (1933) as Himself / The Great Arlen (uncredited)
  • Hollywood on Parade No. A-9 (1933) as Himself - Dick Arlen (uncredited)
  • How to Break 90 #4: Downswing (1933) as Himself - Dick Arlen (uncredited)
  • Hollywood on Parade No. B-6 (1934) as Himself
  • Hollywood Hobbies (1935) as Himself
  • Screen Snapshots Series 15, No. 3 (1935) as Himself
  • Swing with Bing (1940) as Himself - Movie Star playing Golf
  • Screen Snapshots: Sports in Hollywood (1940) as Himself, Golf Player
  • Soaring Stars (1942) as Himself (uncredited)
  • Unusual Occupations (1942) as Himself (uncredited)
  • Paramount Victory Short: A Letter from Bataan (1942) as Pvt. John W. Lewis


  1. "Schenectady Gazette - Google News Archive Search".
  2. Although Arlen's birthplace is often listed as Charlottesville, Virginia, and his birth name as Cornelius Richard Van Mattimore, other non-Hollywood information is different. The "Van" is likely a shorten version of Sylvanus, not an additional name. The 1 June 1900 census data says Arlen's father, James Mattimore lived in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1900 with five children, the youngest of whom is Sylvanus, who was born in Minnesota (city unspecified) in September 1899 and was also listed as 8/12 years of age. Sylvanus was listed in the 1 April 1910 census as being 10 years old. On Arlen's 12 September 1918 draft card, his name given as Van Mattimore, a member of the Royal Flying Corps of the British Army, based in Toronto, his nearest relative is listed as his father James Mattimore. The 1918 draft card's date of birth is given as 1 Sept 1900, and it would appear that the writer started to put the year of birth as 18 and then wrote over the 8 with a 9, so it appears as 1900. The Social Security Administration notes Richard Arlen was born on 1 Sept 1899 and died in March 1976. The census of 1930 lists Van Mattimore, Richard age 29. It says that he and both parents were born in Minnesota. According to the 1900 and 1910 census, his father was born in Ireland.
  3. History of Toluca Lake Archived 2011-07-17 at the Wayback Machine from, retrieved on September 15, 2010.
  4. The Evening News (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania), 23 Mar 1946, page 1, column 5. Article entitled, "Arlen to Wed Again." Text of article: "HOLLYWOOD, March 23 - Actor Richard Arlen and New York Socialite Margaret Kinsella will be married when his divorce from Silent Screen Actress Jobyna Ralston becomes final September 4, he said today." Reproduction of source in the clipping retrieved and extracted 9 Nov 2016.
  5. "Hollywood Walk of Fame - Richard Arlen". Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved November 8, 2017.
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