A former medical student, Lew Cody began a regional stage career in the early 1900s, managing five stock companies within a single decade. In films from 1915, Cody made his mark as a suave, roguish leading man, with a few villainous heroine-defilers in his resumé. One of his best screen assignments was the lovably despicable title character in 1923's Rupert of Hentzau. He spent most of the 1920s at MGM, usually cast as a wry Parisian boulevardier, while offscreen he vigorously participated in various charities. He made a smooth transition to talkies, and might have been able to sustain his stardom had he not been seriously ill during his final five years on earth. From 1926 to 1930, Lew Cody was married to longtime friend and coworker Mabel Normand, a curious and unhappy union that reportedly started as a practical joke.