Born Cornelius Richard Van Mattimore in Charlottesville, Virginia, on September 1, 1899 (some sources cite 1898 and 1900 as his year of birth), Richard Arlen grew up in Minnesota. He joined the Royal Flying Corps in 1917 due to Canada and Britain's need of flyers during World War I. After a year of flying new planes to the front lines, the war ended and so did Arlen's career in the RFC. After working in the Texas oil fields, by the early 1920s Arlen had made his was to Los Angeles, where he took a messenger job. One day, while making a delivery to Paramount Studios, Arlen accidentally crashed into the gates. Paramount execs found the young man handsome enough to be an actor, and Arlen's film career began. He was first cast in films in 1921 in walk-on parts, but by the mid-1920s Arlen's star was rising in such dramas as The Coast of Folly (1925; with Gloria Swanson) and Padlocked (1926; with Lois Moran and Douglas Fairbanks Jr.). His biggest role came when he was cast opposite flapper Clara Bow in the war romance Wings (1927; with Clara Bow and Charles 'Buddy' Rogers). Also in the cast was Jobyna Ralston, well known for her comedic films with Harold Lloyd. After meeting on the set of Wings, Arlen and Ralston married in 1927. In the early 1920s, Arlen had a brief first marriage that ended in divorce.

Jobyna Ralston and Richard Arlen

With second wife, actress Jobyna Ralston, in 1927

Briefly a big star in the last days of silent films, Arlen made the transition to sound, but his fortunes at Paramount began to sag. The studio began putting him in lower-budget programmers, and in 1935 Arlen left the studio to try to bolster his career at Columbia. He acted in several comedies for that and other studios before landing at Universal in 1939, where he was often teamed with Andy Devine. Never entirely happy with Universal's offerings, Arlen returned to Paramount in the early 1940s. At Paramount, Arlen returned to action-adventure films, many of which were war-themed to capitalize on the patriotism of World War II era filmgoers with such titles as Aerial Gunner (1943; with Chester Morris), Submarine Alert (1943; with Wendy Barrie), and Minesweeper (1943; with Jean Parker). Arlen and Paramount once again parted ways, and Arlen signed a short-lived contract with Republic. On a personal front, Arlen and Jobyna Ralston separated in 1938, and after seven years apart the couple divorced in 1945. Immediately following his divorce, he married socialite Margaret Kinsella in Mexico, and the couple remained married for the rest of his life.

the films of richard arlen

The Blood Ship (1927)

Jacqueline Logan and Richard Arlen

With Jacqueline Logan in the Columbia sea drama The Blood Ship

The Sea God (1930)

Richard Arlen

From the Paramount adventure The Sea God

The Conquering Horde (1931)

Fay Wray and Richard Arlen

With Fay Wray in the Paramount western The Conquering Horde

Helldorado (1935)

Richard Arlen

From the Fox drama Helldorado

Three Live Ghosts (1936)

Dudley Digges, Beryl Mercer, Claude Allister, Charles McNaughton, Cecilia Parker, Richard Arlen, and Jonathan Hale

From the MGM second feature comedy Three Live Ghosts with Dudley Digges, Beryl Mercer, Claude Allister, Charles McNaughton, Cecilia Parker, and Jonathan Hale

Legion of Lost Flyers (1939)

Anne Nagel, Richard Arlen, and Andy Devine

From the Universal drama Legion of Lost Flyers with Anne Nagel and Andy Devine

Tropic Fury (1939)

Beverly Roberts and Richard Arlen

From the Universal adventure Tropic Fury with Beverly Roberts

A Dangerous Game (1941)

Richard Arlen

From the Universal comedy A Dangerous Game

Power Dive (1941)

Richard Arlen and Jean Parker

From the Paramount second feature Power Dive with Jean Parker

Submarine Alert (1943)

Roger Pryor, Wendy Barrie, and Richard Arlen

From the Paramount World War II thiller Submarine Alert with Roger Pryor and Wendy Barrie

The Lady and the Monster (1944)

Erich von Stroheim, Richard Arlen, and Vera Ralston

With Erich von Stroheim and Vera Ralston in the Republic horror flick The Lady and the Monster

The Phantom Speaks (1945)

Charlotte Wynters, Richard Arlen, and Lynne Roberts

With Charlotte Wynters and Lynne Roberts in the Republic horror flick The Phantom Speaks

Buffalo Bill Rides Again (1947)

Richard Arlen

Arlen's only outing as Buffalo Bill came in the independent feature Buffalo Bill Rides Again

Speed to Spare (1948)

Pat Phelan, Nanette Parks, and Richard Arlen

With Pat Phelan and Nanette Parks in the Paramount trucker drama Speed to Spare

Silver City (1951)

Michael Moore, Barry Fitzgerald, and Richard Arlen

With Michael Moore and Barry Fitzgerald in the Paramount western Silver City

The Blazing Forest (1952)

John Payne, Susan Morrow, Richard Arlen, Agnes Moorehead, and William Demarest

From the Paramount Technicolor actioner The Blazing Forest with John Payne, Susan Morrow, Agnes Moorehead, and William Demarest

Flaming Feather (1952)

Barbara Rush, Sterling Hayden, Richard Arlen, Arleen Whelan, and Victor Jory

From the Paramount western Flaming Feather with Barbara Rush, Sterling Hayden, Arleen Whelan, and Victor Jory

Blonde Blackmailer (1955)

Richard Arlen

From the British Lion crime drama Blonde Blackmailer, which was not released in the U.S. until 1958

The Young and the Brave (1963)

Rory Calhoun, Richard Arlen, William Bendix, and Manuel Padilla Jr.

With Rory Calhoun, William Bendix, and Manuel Padilla Jr. in the MGM war drama The Young and the Brave

later years

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Arlen freelanced in numerous films and also tackled a lot of work on television. That said, his once-starring film roles had shrunk to supporting roles by that time. During his career, Arlen had acted in the occasional western, but in the early 1960s he began a long association with producer A.C. Lyles, who cast the aging actor in more than a dozen films, mostly westerns, through the late 1960s. By the early 1970s, Arlen had wisely invested his earnings over the years and temporarily retired. Nearing the end of his life and suffering from emphysema, he came out of retirement and began acting in films again, making appearances in The Sky's the Limit (1975) and Won Ton Ton, the Dog Who Saved Hollywood (1976). Sadly, Richard Arlen passed away on March 28, 1976. He was survived by his third wife, Margaret, his son and daughter, and two grandchildren.

richard arlen dvds available from


A Whale of a Tale (1977) with Marty Allen, Abby Dalton, Andy Devine, and William Shatner
Won Ton Ton, the Dog Who Saved Hollywood (1976) with Bruce Dern, Madeline Kahn, Art Carney, Phil Silvers, Teri Garr, Ron Leibman, and Robert Alda
The Sky's the Limit (1975) with Pat O'Brien, Lloyd Nolan, Jeanette Nolan, Robert Sampson, Ben Blue, Alan Hale Jr., Huntz Hall, and Ben Cooper
Buckskin (1968) with Barry Sullivan, Joan Caulfield, Wendell Corey, Lon Chaney Jr., John Russell, Barbara Hale, and Bill Williams
Rogues' Gallery (1968) with Roger Smith, Farley Granger, Edgar Bergen, Brian Donlevy, Johnnie Ray, Dennis Morgan, Marcia Mae Jones, and Mala Powers
Fort Utah (1967) with John Ireland, Virginia Mayo, Scott Brady, John Russell, James Craig, Jim Davis, and Don 'Red' Barry
Hostile Guns (1967) with George Montgomery, Yvonne De Carlo, Tab Hunter, Brian Donlevy, John Russell, Leo Gordon, Pedro Gonzalez Gonzalez, James Craig, and Don 'Red' Barry
Red Tomahawk (1967) with Howard Keel, Joan Caulfield, Broderick Crawford, Scott Brady, Wendell Corey, Ben Cooper, and Don 'Red' Barry
The Road to Nashville (1967) with Bill Anderson, June Carter Cash, Johnny Cash, and Waylon Jennings
Waco (1966) with Howard Keel, Jane Russell, Brian Donlevy, Wendell Corey, Terry Moore, John Smith, John Agar, Ben Cooper, and Jeff Richards
To the Shores of Hell (1966) with Marshall Thompson and Robert Dornan
Johnny Reno (1966) with Dana Andrews, Jane Russell, Lon Chaney Jr., John Agar, Lyle Bettger, Tom Drake, and Robert Lowery
Apache Uprising (1966) with Rory Calhoun, Corinne Calvet, John Russell, Lon Chaney Jr., Gene Evans, Robert H. Harris, Arthur Hunnicutt, DeForest Kelley, Johnny Mack Brown, and Don 'Red' Barry
The Bounty Killer (1965) with Dan Duryea, Rod Cameron, Audrey Dalton, Buster Crabbe, Fuzzy Knight, Johnny Mack Brown, Peter Duryea, and Grady Sutton
Town Tamer (1965) with Dana Andrews, Terry Moore, Pat O'Brien, Lon Chaney Jr., Bruce Cabot, Lyle Bettger, Richard Jaeckel, Philip Carey, Sonny Tufts, Coleen Gray, DeForest Kelley, Jeanne Cagney, and Don 'Red' Barry
Black Spurs (1965) with Rory Calhoun, Linda Darnell, Scott Brady, Lon Chaney Jr., Bruce Cabot, Terry Moore, James Best, and DeForest Kelley
The Human Duplicators (1965) with George Nader, Dolores Faith, Barbara Nichols, Richard Kiel, George Macready, Hugh Beaumont
Young Fury (1965) with Rory Calhoun, Virginia Mayo, Lon Chaney Jr., John Agar, Merry Anders, Jody McCrea, and William Wellman Jr.
The Shepherd of the Hills (1964)
The Best Man (1964) with Henry Fonda, Cliff Robertson, Edie Adams, Margaret Leighton, Shelley Berman, Lee Tracy, Ann Sothern, Gene Raymond, and Kevin McCarthy
Law of the Lawless (1964) with Dale Robertson, Yvonne De Carlo, William Bendix, Bruce Cabot, John Agar, Jody McCrea, Kent Taylor, Bill Williams, Rod Lauren, Lon Chaney Jr., Don 'Red' Barry
Sex and the College Girl (1964) with Luana Anders, John Gabriel, and Charles Grodin
Cavalry Command (1963) with John Agar and Myron Healey
The Crawling Hand (1963) with Peter Breck, Kent Taylor, Rod Lauren, Alan Hale Jr., Allison Hayes, Arline Judge, and Tristram Coffin
The Young and the Brave (1963) with Rory Calhoun, William Bendix, Richard Jaeckel, and John Agar
The Last Time I Saw Archie (1961) with Robert Mitchum, Jack Webb, Martha Hyer, France Nuyen, Louis Nye, Joe Flynn, Del Moore, Don Knotts, and Harvey Lembeck
Raymie (1960) with David Ladd, Julie Adams, John Agar, and Frank Ferguson
Warlock (1959) with Richard Widmark, Henry Fonda, Anthony Quinn, Dorothy Malone, DeForest Kelley, Regis Toomey, and Whit Bissell
The Mountain (1956) with Spencer Tracy, Robert Wagner, Claire Trevor, William Demarest, E.G. Marshall, and Stacy Harris
Hidden Guns (1956) with Bruce Bennett, John Carradine, Faron Young, Lloyd Corrigan, and Angie Dickinson
Blonde Blackmailer (1955) with Susan Shaw
Devil's Harbor (1954)
Sabre Jet (1953) with Robert Stack, Coleen Gray, Julie Bishop, Amanda Blake, and Jan Shepard
The Blazing Forest (1952) with John Payne, William Demarest, Agnes Moorehead, and Susan Morrow
Hurricane Smith (1952) with Yvonne De Carlo, John Ireland, James Craig, Forrest Tucker, and Lyle Bettger
Flaming Feather (1952) with Sterling Hayden, Forrest Tucker, Arleen Whelan, Barbara Rush, Victor Jory, and Edgar Buchanan
Silver City (1951) with Edmond O'Brien, Yvonne De Carlo, Barry Fitzgerald, Gladys George, Kasey Rogers, and Edgar Buchanan
Kansas Raiders (1950) with Audie Murphy, Brian Donlevy, Marguerite Chapman, Scott Brady, Tony Curtis, Richard Long, James Best, Dewey Martin,and Richard Egan
Grand Canyon (1949) with Mary Beth Hughes, Reed Hadley, Grady Sutton, and Joyce Compton
When My Baby Smiles at Me (1948) with Betty Grable, Dan Dailey, Jack Oakie, June Havoc, and James Gleason
The Return of Wildfire (1948) with Patricia Morison, Mary Beth Hughes, and Reed Hadley
Speed to Spare (1948) with Jean Rogers, Richard Travis, and Roscoe Karns
Buffalo Bill Rides Again (1947) with Jennifer Holt and Lee Shumway
Accomplice (1946) with Veda Ann Borg and Herbert Rawlinson
The Phantom Speaks (1945) with Lynne Roberts
Identity Unknown (1945) with Cheryl Walker, Roger Pryor, Bobby Driscoll, and Lola Lane
The Big Bonanza (1944) with Robert Livingston, Jane Frazee, George 'Gabby' Hayes, Lynne Roberts, and Bobby Driscoll
Storm Over Lisbon (1944) with Vera Ralston, Erich von Stroheim, Robert Livingston, and Otto Kruger
That's My Baby! (1944) with Ellen Drew and Lita Baron
The Lady and the Monster (1944) with Vera Ralston and Erich von Stroheim
Timber Queen (1944) with Mary Beth Hughes, June Havoc, Sheldon Leonard, and Dick Purcell
Minesweeper (1943) with Jean Parker, Russell Hayden, Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams, Chick Chandler, Robert Mitchum, Dub Taylor, and Grant Withers
Submarine Alert (1943) with Wendy Barrie, Nils Asther, and Roger Pryor
Alaska Highway (1943) with Jean Parker and Eddie Quillan
Aerial Gunner (1943) with Chester Morris and Dick Purcell
Wrecking Crew (1942) with Chester Morris, Jean Parker, Evelyn Brent, and Byron Foulger
Wildcat (1942) with Arline Judge, William Frawley, Buster Crabbe, Arthur Hunnicutt, and Elisha Cook Jr.
Torpedo Boat (1942) with Jean Parker, Mary Carlisle, Phillip Terry, and Dick Purcell
Raiders of the Desert (1941) with Andy Devine, Linda Hayes, Turhan Bey, and Maria Montez
Flying Blind (1941) with Jean Parker, Nils Asther, Marie Wilson, Roger Pryor, Eddie Quillan, Dick Purcell, and Grady Sutton
Forced Landing (1941) with Eva Gabor, J. Carrol Naish, Nils Asther, and Evelyn Brent
Men of the Timberland (1941) with Andy Devine, Linda Hayes, and Francis McDonald
Power Dive (1941) with Don Castle, Jean Parker, Cliff Edwards, and Roger Pryor
Mutiny in the Arctic (1941) with Andy Devine, Anne Nagel, Addison Richards, and Jeff Corey
A Dangerous Game (1941) with Andy Devine and Jean Brooks
Lucky Devils (1941) with Andy Devine, Tim Ryan, and Gladys Blake
The Devil's Pipeline (1940) with Andy Devine, John Eldredge, Jean Brooks, and Francis McDonald
The Leather Pushers (1940) with Andy Devine, Astrid Allwyn, Shemp Howard, and Charles Lane
Black Diamonds (1940) with Andy Devine, Kathryn Adams, Paul Fix, and Mary Treen
Hot Steel (1940) with Andy Devine, Peggy Moran, Anne Nagel, and Joe Besser
Danger on Wheels (1940) with Andy Devine, Peggy Moran, and Mary Treen
The Man from Montreal (1939) with Andy Devine, Anne Gwynne, Reed Hadley, and Addison Richards
Legion of Lost Flyers (1939) with Andy Devine, Anne Nagel, William Lundigan, Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams, Ona Munson, and Jack Carson
Tropic Fury (1939) with Andy Devine, Beverly Roberts, and Lupita Tovar
Mutiny on the Blackhawk (1939) with Andy Devine, Constance Moore, Noah Beery, and Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams
Missing Daughters (1939) with Rochelle Hudson, Marian Marsh, Isabel Jewell, and Dick Wessel
Straight Place and Show (1938) with the Ritz Brothers, Ethel Merman, and Sidney Blackmer
Call of the Yukon (1938) with Beverly Roberts, Lyle Talbot, and Al St. John
No Time to Marry (1938) with Mary Astor, Lionel Stander, Virginia Dale, Scotty Beckett, and Frank Faylen
Murder in Greenwich Village (1937) with Fay Wray
Artists & Models (1937) with Jack Benny, Ida Lupino, Gail Patrick, Ben Blue, Judy Canova, Hedda Hopper, and Martha Raye
Silent Barriers (1937) with Lilli Palmer
Secret Valley (1937) with Virginia Grey
The Mine with the Iron Door (1936) with Cecilia Parker
Three Live Ghosts (1936) with Beryl Mercer and Cecilia Parker
The Calling of Dan Matthews (1935) with Charlotte Wynters, Douglass Dumbrille, and Mary Kornman
Let 'em Have It (1935) with Virginia Bruce, Alice Brady, Bruce Cabot, Joyce Compton, and Barbara Pepper
Helldorado (1935) with Madge Evans, Ralph Bellamy, James Gleason, and Stepin Fetchit
Ready for Love (1934) with Ida Lupino and Marjorie Rambeau
She Made Her Bed (1934) with Sally Eilers and Robert Armstrong
Come on Marines (1934) with Ida Lupino, Roscoe Karns, Fuzzy Knight, Monte Blue, Toby Wing, and Ann Sheridan
Alice in Wonderland (1933) with an all-star cast
Hell and High Water (1933) with William Frawley
Golden Harvest (1933) with Chester Morris
Three-Cornered Moon (1933) with Claudette Colbert, Mary Boland, and Wallace Ford
College Humor (1933) with Bing Crosby, Jack Oakie, Mary Carlisle, George Burns, Gracie Allen, and Mary Kornman
Song of the Eagle (1933) with Charles Bickford, Mary Brian, Jean Hersholt, Louise Dresser, and Andy Devine
Island of Lost Souls (1932) with Charles Laughton and Bela Lugosi
The All-American (1932) with Andy Devine, Gloria Stuart, and James Gleason
Tiger Shark (1932) with Edward G. Robinson, Zita Johann, and J. Carrol Naish
Guilty as Hell (1932) with Edmund Lowe, Victor McLaglen, and Adrienne Ames
Sky Bride (1932) with Jack Oakie, Virginia Bruce, and Charles Starrett
Wayward (1932) with Nancy Carroll, Pauline Frederick, and John Litel
Touchdown (1931) with Peggy Shannon, Jack Oakie, Regis Toomey, and Charles Starrett
Caught (1931) with Louise Dresser and Frances Dee
The Secret Call (1931) with Peggy Shannon
The Lawyer's Secret (1931) with Clive Brook, Charles 'Buddy' Rogers, Fay Wray, Jean Arthur, and Francis McDonald
Gun Smoke (1931) with Mary Brian, Eugene Pallette, Louise Fazenda, and Anne Shirley
The Conquering Horde (1931) with Fay Wray
Only Saps Work (1930) with Leon Errol, Mary Brian, and Stuart Erwin
The Santa Fe Trail (1930) with Eugene Pallette and Mitzi Green
The Sea God (1930) with Fay Wray and Eugene Pallette
The Border Legion (1930) with Jack Holt, Fay Wray, and Eugene Pallette
Paramount on Parade (1930) with an all-star cast
The Light of Western Stars (1930) with Mary Brian and Regis Toomey
Dangerous Paradise (1930) with Nancy Carroll, Warner Oland, and Francis McDonald
Burning Up (1930) with Mary Brian and Francis McDonald
The Virginian (1929) with Gary Cooper, Walter Huston, Mary Brian, Chester Conklin, and Eugene Pallette
Dangerous Curves (1929) with Clara Bow, Kay Francis, Joyce Compton, and Stuart Erwin
The Four Feathers (1929) with Fay Wray, Clive Brook, William Powell, and Noah Beery
Thunderbolt (1929) with Fay Wray
The Man I Love (1929) with Mary Brian
Manhattan Cocktail (1928) with Nancy Carroll
Beggars of Life (1928) with Wallace Beery and Louise Brooks
Ladies of the Mob (1928) with Clara Bow
Feel My Pulse (1928) with Bebe Daniels and William Powell
Under the Tonto Rim (1928) with Mary Brian
She's a Sheik (1927) with Bebe Daniels and William Powell
Figures Don't Lie (1927) with Esther Ralston and Ford Sterling
Sally in Our Alley (1927) with Shirley Mason
Wings (1927) with Clara Bow, Charles 'Buddy' Rogers, Jobyna Ralston, and Gary Cooper
The Blood Ship (1927)
Rolled Stockings (1927) with Louise Brooks
Padlocked (1926) with Lois Moran, Noah Beery, Louise Dresser, Charles Lane, and Douglas Fairbanks Jr.
Behind the Front (1926) with Wallace Beery, Mary Brian, and Chester Conklin
The Enchanted Hill (1926) with Jack Holt, Noah Beery, and Mary Brian
The Coast of Folly (1925) with Gloria Swanson
In the Name of Love (1925) with Ricardo Cortez and Wallace Beery
Vengeance of the Deep (1923)

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Watch Richard Arlen's 1948 drama Speed to Spare

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