From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Richard Semler Dick Barthelmess (May 9, 1895 – August 17, 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 Barthelmesss mother. Nazimova in return convinced Barthelmess to try acting professionally and he made his first film appearance in 1916 in the serial Glorias 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). He soon became one of Hollywoods 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.