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Lionel Barrymore

Biography

Patriarch from the Barrymore performing family who was simply among Hollywood’s leading guys and played Mister Potter in It’s an excellent Life. His last film was 1953’s Seven Angry Guys. He started his profession on stage, executing alongside his grandmother. He afterwards made an appearance on Broadway along with his uncle, and finally produced a name for himself alongside his siblings. Furthermore to his many Hollywood display screen assignments, he authored an autobiography. He wedded stars Doris Rankin and after their divorce, wedded Irene Fenwick. He made an appearance alongside his sister, Ethel Barrymore, in the film Rasputin as well as the Empress.

Quick Facts


Full Name Lionel Barrymore
Date Of Birth April 28, 1878
Died November 15, 1954, Van Nuys, Los Angeles, California, United States
Place Of Birth Philadelphia, PA
Height 1.83 m
Profession Movie Actor
Education Episcopal Academy
Nationality American
Spouse Irene Fenwick, Doris Rankin
Children Mary Barrymore, Ethel Barrymore
Parents Maurice Barrymore, Georgiana Drew
Siblings John Barrymore, Ethel Barrymore
Awards Academy Award for Best Actor
Nominations Academy Award for Best Director
Movies It's a Wonderful Life, A Free Soul, You Can't Take It with You, Grand Hotel, Dinner at Eight, Key Largo, Captains Courageous, Duel in the Sun, Rasputin and the Empress, Camille, The Devil-Doll, On Borrowed Time, Young Dr. Kildare, West of Zanzibar, Calling Dr. Gillespie, The Little Colonel, Sadie Thompson, David Copperfield, The New York Hat, Mata Hari, Saratoga, Mark of the Vampire, Test Pilot, The Mysterious Island, The Rogue Song, The Copperhead, Since You Went Away, His Glorious Night, The Temptress, The Valley of Decision, Down to the Sea in Ships, Night Flight, The Lion and the Mouse, The Girl from Missouri, Ah, Wilderness!, One Man's Journey, Lady Be Good, Dr. Kildare's Strange Case, A Yank at Oxford, Guilty Hands, The Gorgeous Hussy, Drums of Love, Enemies of Women, The Road to Glory, Alias Jimmy Valentine, Arsène Lupin, The Stranger's Return, The Unholy Night, Three Wise Fools, Dr. Gillespie's New Assistant, Life's Whirlpool
TV Shows Underdog
Star Sign Taurus

  • Facts
  • Filmography
  • Awards
  • Salaries
  • Quotes
  • Trademarks
  • Pictures

#Fact
1Studied musical composition with Eugene Zador for ten years.
2He appeared in two Best Picture Academy Award winners: Grand Hotel (1932) and You Can't Take It with You (1938). Lee Phelps also appeared in both films.
3He and Spring Byington played husband and wife in Ah, Wilderness! (1935). Three years later, they played father and daughter in You Can't Take It with You (1938).
4Barrymore was a member of the historical actor's club of New York, The Lambs, in 1900 and remained a member until his death.
5Spent most of his screen career under contract to MGM (1926-52).
6Directed 2 actors to Oscar nominations: Ruth Chatterton (Best Actress, Madame X (1929), technically not an official nominee), and Lawrence Tibbett (Best Actor, The Rogue Song (1930)).
7Ex-brother-in-law of Phyllis Rankin, Mrs. Sidney Drew and Harry Davenport.
8Had extreme problems with his income taxes, and during the last 15 years of his life routinely turned over all of his paycheck to the Internal Revenue Service except for a small sum to maintain his living expenses. The IRS also took the proceeds from a sale of his artwork after his death.
9Had two daughters by his first wife Doris Rankin, both of whom died young. He later left Rankin for Irene Fenwick, a longtime friend and one-time girlfriend of his brother, John Barrymore.
10Honorary pallbearer at Lon Chaney's funeral.
11He has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame - for motion pictures at 1724 Vine Street and for radio at 1651 Vine Street.
12In Rasputin and the Empress (1932), he played Rasputin, allegedly the lover of Czar Nicholas II's wife Alexandra, played by Barrymore's real life sister Ethel Barrymore. Their brother, John Barrymore played the role of Prince Chegodieff in the same film.
13In 1930, he lived at 802 N. Roxbury Drive in Beverly Hills.
14Started as a stock player at the Biograph Company.
15He was one of the very few screen actors in the 1930s, 1940s and early 1950s who had a prolific career despite being in a wheelchair. From 1938, his screen roles were written to accommodate his disability.
16Invented the boom microphone.
17He and his sister Ethel Barrymore were the first Oscar-winning brother and sister in acting categories.
18In the 1960s cartoon series Underdog (1964), Underdog's nemesis, Simon Bar Sinister, has a voice reminiscent of Barrymore.
19Uncle of John Drew Barrymore, Diana Barrymore, Samuel Colt, Ethel Colt, and John Drew Colt.
20His name appeared in the Looney Toons Cartoon One Froggy Evening (1955) (directed by Chuck Jones) in a newspaper on a park bench before the distraught man was sent to a psychiatric ward because the frog would not sing in front of anyone else.
21Portrayed Dr. Gillespie on the syndicated radio show "The Story of Dr. Kildare" (1950-1951), and in the late 30s/40s movie series.
22Great uncle of Drew Barrymore.
23Reared Roman Catholic by their mother, the three Barrymore siblings all had suffered the stigma of divorce (doubtless connected to the family business) and only Ethel Barrymore was a practicing Catholic in adulthood.
24Son of Maurice Barrymore and Georgiana Barrymore; grandson of Louisa Drew and stage actor John Drew (1827-1862); nephew of Sidney Drew; cousin of S. Rankin Drew. Fathered two daughters: Ethel (1909-1910) and Mary (1916- 1917).
25Interred at Calvary Cemetery, Los Angeles, California, USA, in the Main Mausoleum, Block 352.
26Acted from wheelchair from 1938 due to the effects of arthritis and hip injury.
27Screen, stage, radio, vaudeville actor, film producer, and screenwriter.
28The three Barrymore siblings appeared in only one film together: Rasputin and the Empress (1932). Lionel and John appeared without Ethel in Arsène Lupin (1932), Grand Hotel (1932), Night Flight (1933) and Dinner at Eight (1933). A decade after John's demise, Lionel and Ethel appeared in Main Street to Broadway (1953), Lionel's last film.
29He played Scrooge in "A Christmas Carol" on the radio annually for 20 tears between 1934 and 1953. He missed only twice, In 1936 brother John replaced him because of the Christmas Eve death of his wife and in 1938 by Reginald Owen, whose MGM version was then in theatrical release.
30He was buried a Roman Catholic next to his second wife and his brother, John Barrymore, in Calvary Cemetery, Hollywood.


Actor

Actor

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Should Ladies Behave1933Augustus Merrick
Christopher Bean1933Dr. Milton Haggett
Night Flight1933Insp. Robineau
One Man's Journey1933Eli Watt
Dinner at Eight1933Oliver Jordan
The Stranger's Return1933Grandpa Storr
Looking Forward1933Tim Benton
Sweepings1933Daniel Pardway
Rasputin and the Empress1932Rasputin
The Washington Masquerade1932Jeff Keane
Grand Hotel1932/IOtto Kringelein
Arsène Lupin1932Guerchard
Broken Lullaby1932Dr. H. Holderlin
Mata Hari1931General Serge Shubin
The Christmas Party1931ShortLionel Barrymore (uncredited)
The Yellow Ticket1931Baron Igor Andreeff
Guilty Hands1931Richard Grant
A Free Soul1931Stephen Ashe
Free and Easy1930Lionel Barrymore - Director of Bedroom Scene
The Mysterious Island1929Dakkar
The River Woman1928Bill Lefty
West of Zanzibar1928Crane
Alias Jimmy Valentine1928Doyle
Road House1928Henry Grayson
The Lion and the Mouse1928John Ryder
Drums of Love1928Duke Cathos de Alvia
Sadie Thompson1928Alfred Davidson
The Thirteenth Hour1927Prof. Leroy
Body and Soul1927Dr. Leyden
Women Love Diamonds1927Hugo Harlan
The Show1927The Greek
The Temptress1926Canterac
The Bells1926Mathias
The Lucky Lady1926Count Ferranzo
Paris at Midnight1926Vautrin
Wife Tamers1926ShortMr. Barry
The Barrier1926Stark Bennett
Brooding Eyes1926Slim Jim Carey
Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ1925Chariot Race Spectator (uncredited)
Die Frau mit dem schlechten Ruf1925Allan Merrick
The Splendid Road1925Dan Clehollis
Fifty-Fifty1925Frederick Harmon
The Wrongdoers1925Daniel Abbott
Children of the Whirlwind1925Joe Ellison
The Girl Who Wouldn't Work1925Gordon Kent
A Man of Iron1925Philip Durban
Wedding Women1924
I Am the Man1924James McQuade
Meddling Women1924Edwin Ainsworth / John Wells
Decameron Nights1924Saladin
America1924Capt. Walter Butler
The Eternal City1923Baron Bonelli
Unseeing Eyes1923Conrad Dean
Enemies of Women1923Prince Lubimoff
The Face in the Fog1922Boston Blackie Dawson
Boomerang Bill1922Boomerang Bill
Jim the Penman1921James Ralston
The Great Adventure1921Priam Farll
The Devil's Garden1920William Dale
The Master Mind1920Henry Allen
The Copperhead1920Milt Shanks
National Red Cross Pageant1917Undetermined role and episode
The Millionaire's Double1917Bide Bennington
His Father's Son1917J. Dabney Barro
The End of the Tour1917Bron Bennett
The Brand of Cowardice1916Cyril Hamilton
The Upheaval1916Jim Gordon
The Quitter1916/IShortHappy Jack Lewis
Dorian's Divorce1916Richard Dorian
A Yellow Streak1915Barry Dale
Dora Thorne1915ShortLord Earle
The Flaming Sword1915Steve
The Romance of Elaine1915Marcus Del Mar / Mr. X
The Curious Conduct of Judge Legarde1915Judge Randolph Legarde
A Modern Magdalen1915Lindsay
Wildfire1915John Keefe
The Exploits of Elaine1914Undetermined Role
The Seats of the Mighty1914Monsieur Doltaire
The Span of Life1914Richard Blunt
Under the Gaslight1914William Byke
The Woman in Black1914/IShortRobert Crane
The Power of the Press1914ShortSteve Carson
Men and Women1914ShortStephen Rodman / Robert Stevens
The Cracksman's Gratitude1914Short
Woman Against Woman1914ShortGilbert Craven
The Primitive Man1914Short
Strongheart1914ShortBilly Saunders
Judith of Bethulia1914Extra
Her Father's Silent Partner1914Short
Classmates1914ShortBubby Dumble
The Bartered Crown1914ShortThe Landlord
The House of Discord1913ShortThe Husband
The Battle of Elderbush Gulch1913Short
All for Science1913ShortDetective
So Runs the Way1913ShortUndetermined Role (unconfirmed)
The Stolen Treaty1913ShortThe Japanese Diplomat
The Strong Man's Burden1913ShortJohn - the Elder Brother
The Crook and the Girl1913ShortThe Nephew
The Work Habit1913ShortThe Father
The Suffragette Minstrels1913Short unconfirmed
An Indian's Loyalty1913ShortThe Cattle Buyer
I Was Meant for You1913ShortLavina's Father
Under the Shadow of the Law1913ShortCharles Darnton - the Employer
The Vengeance of Galora1913Short unconfirmed
The Mirror1913ShortDaisy's Father
Pa Says1913ShortTeddy's Rival
The Enemy's Baby1913ShortBen Brown
A Gamble with Death1913ShortJim Benton, the Bartender
In Diplomatic Circles1913ShortThe Japanese Ambassador
Almost a Wild Man1913ShortIn Audience (uncredited)
The Switch Tower1913ShortFirst Counterfeiter
Death's Marathon1913ShortThe Financial Backer
The Well1913ShortThe Farmer
Red Hicks Defies the World1913ShortThe Referee
A Timely Interception1913ShortThe Farmer's Brother
The Ranchero's Revenge1913ShortThe Ranchero
Just Gold1913ShortFirst Brother
The Yaqui Cur1913ShortThe Easterner
The House of Darkness1913ShortThe Doctor
The Wanderer1913/IIShortThe Male Lover
The Lady and the Mouse1913ShortThe Father
A Misunderstood Boy1913ShortThe Father
The Little Tease1913ShortIn Bar
The Perfidy of Mary1913ShortMary's Father
The Sheriff's Baby1913ShortThird Bandit
Fate1913ShortFather, Loving Family
Near to Earth1913ShortGato
The Unwelcome Guest1913ShortAt Auction (uncredited)
A Girl's Stratagem1913Short
The Wrong Bottle1913ShortThe Father
Love in an Apartment Hotel1913ShortIn Hotel Lobby
A Chance Deception1913ShortA Policeman
Oil and Water1913ShortThe Idealist's Friend
The Tender Hearted Boy1913ShortUndetermined Secondary Role (unconfirmed, uncredited)
An Adventure in the Autumn Woods1913ShortThe Father
The Telephone Girl and the Lady1913ShortThe Desk Sergeant
Three Friends1913ShortSecond Friend
The God Within1912ShortThe Woman of the Camp's Lover
A Cry for Help1912ShortThe Tramp
The Massacre1912Short
The Burglar's Dilemma1912ShortThe Author
My Hero1912ShortSecondary Role
The New York Hat1912ShortPreacher Bolton (minister)
Brutality1912ShortAt Wedding
The Informer1912ShortUnion Soldier
My Baby1912ShortAt Table
Gold and Glitter1912ShortThe Lover
Heredity1912ShortWoodsman
The Musketeers of Pig Alley1912ShortThe Musician's Friend (uncredited)
The Painted Lady1912ShortAt Ice Cream Festival (uncredited)
The One She Loved1912ShortThe Neighbor
The Chief's Blanket1912ShortThe Young Man
So Near, Yet So Far1912ShortIn Club
Friends1912ShortGrizzley Fallon - Dandy Jack's Friend
Home Folks1912Short
The Miser's Heart1911ShortJules - the Thief
The Battle1911ShortWagon Driver (uncredited)
Fighting Blood1911Short
The Paris Hat1908Short
Our Mr. Sun1956TV MovieFather Time (voice)
Main Street to Broadway1953Lionel Barrymore
Lone Star1952Andrew Jackson
Bannerline1951Hugo Trimble
Right Cross1950Sean O'Malley
Malaya1949John Manchester
Down to the Sea in Ships1949Capt. Bering Joy
Key Largo1948James Temple
Dark Delusion1947Dr. Leonard Gillespie
Duel in the Sun1946Sen. Jackson McCanles
The Secret Heart1946Dr. Rossiger
It's a Wonderful Life1946Mr. Potter
Three Wise Fools1946Dr. Richard Gaunght
The Valley of Decision1945Pat Rafferty
Between Two Women1945Dr. Leonard B. Gillespie
Dragon Seed1944Narrator (voice, uncredited)
Since You Went Away1944Clergyman
3 Men in White1944Dr. Leonard B. Gillespie
A Guy Named Joe1943The General
The Last Will and Testament of Tom Smith1943ShortGramps
Dr. Gillespie's Criminal Case1943Dr. Leonard B. Gillespie
Tennessee Johnson1942Thaddeus Stevens
Dr. Gillespie's New Assistant1942Dr. Leonard Gillespie
Calling Dr. Gillespie1942Dr. Leonard Gillespie
Dr. Kildare's Victory1942Dr. Leonard Gillespie
Lady Be Good1941Judge Murdock
Dr. Kildare's Wedding Day1941Dr. Leonard Gillespie
The People vs. Dr. Kildare1941Dr. Leonard Gillespie
The Bad Man1941Uncle Henry Jones
The Penalty1941'Grandpop' Logan
Dr. Kildare's Crisis1940Dr. Leonard Gillespie
Dr. Kildare Goes Home1940Dr. Leonard Gillespie
Dr. Kildare's Strange Case1940Dr. Leonard Gillespie
The Stars Look Down1940Narrator (U.S. release only) (voice, uncredited)
The Secret of Dr. Kildare1939Dr. Leonard Barry Gillespie
On Borrowed Time1939Julian Northrup - Gramps
Calling Dr. Kildare1939Dr. Leonard Gillespie
Let Freedom Ring1939Thomas Logan
Young Dr. Kildare1938Dr. Leonard Gillespie
You Can't Take It with You1938Martin Vanderhof
Screen Snapshots Series 17, No. 121938Documentary shortLionel Barrymore
Test Pilot1938Howard B. Drake
A Yank at Oxford1938Dan Sheridan
Navy Blue and Gold1937Captain 'Skinny' Dawes
Saratoga1937Grandpa Clayton
Captains Courageous1937Disko
A Family Affair1937Judge James K. Hardy
Camille1936Monsieur Duval
The Gorgeous Hussy1936Andrew Jackson
The Devil-Doll1936Paul Lavond
The Road to Glory1936Papa La Roche / Pvt. Morin
The Voice of Bugle Ann1936Spring Davis
Ah Wilderness!1935Nat Miller
The Return of Peter Grimm1935Peter Grimm
Public Hero Number 11935Doctor Josiah Glass
Mark of the Vampire1935Professor Zelin
The Little Colonel1935Colonel Lloyd
David Copperfield1935Dan Peggotty
Treasure Island1934Billy Bones
The Girl from Missouri1934Thomas. Randall Paige
Carolina1934Bob Connelly
This Side of Heaven1934Martin Turner

Director

Director

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Guilty Hands1931uncredited
Ten Cents a Dance1931
The Sea Bat1930uncredited
The Rogue Song1930
Redemption1930retakes, uncredited
His Glorious Night1929
The Unholy Night1929
Madame X1929
Confession1929Short
Life's Whirlpool1917
Chocolate Dynamite1914Short
Just Boys1914Short
No Place for Father1913Short
Where's the Baby?1913Short
His Secret1913Short

Soundtrack

Soundtrack

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Dr. Kildare's Wedding Day1941music: "Tableau Russe Symphonic Suite" / performer: "Tableau Russe Symphonic Suite"
The People vs. Dr. Kildare1941performer: "Hinky Dinky Parlay Voo Mad'moiselle from Armentieres" 1921
On Borrowed Time1939performer: "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" 1861 uncredited
You Can't Take It with You1938performer: "Loch Lomand" - uncredited
The Return of Peter Grimm1935"What Shall the Wedding Breakfast Be?", uncredited
Treasure Island1934"Yo Ho Ho and a Bottle of Rum", uncredited

Writer

Writer

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Life's Whirlpool1917scenario
The Criminal's Thumb1916Short
The Vengeance of Galora1913Short writer
The Tender Hearted Boy1913Short writer
The Burglar's Dilemma1912Short

Composer

Composer

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Olympia1930
His Glorious Night1929

Assistant Director

Assistant Director

TitleYearStatusCharacter
The Hollywood Revue of 19291929assistant director - uncredited

Thanks

Thanks

TitleYearStatusCharacter
The New Bike2009Short acknowledgment

Self

Self

TitleYearStatusCharacter
The Ed Sullivan Show1954TV SeriesHimself
The Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Story1951DocumentaryHimself
Screen Actors1950Documentary shortHimself (uncredited)
Some of the Best: Twenty-Five Years of Motion Picture Leadership1949Documentary shortHimself -Host
A Fireside Chat with Lionel Barrymore1938ShortHimself
La ciudad de cartón1934Himself
Jackie Cooper's Birthday Party1931Documentary shortHimself
Estrellados1930Himself (Guest Appearance)
The Hollywood Revue of 19291929Himself - Director of 'Romeo and Juliet' (uncredited)
Screen Snapshots, Series 4, No. 71923Documentary shortHimself

Archive Footage

Archive Footage

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Before the Flood2016DocumentaryFather Time
Leslie Howard: The Man Who Gave a Damn2016Documentary
And the Oscar Goes To...2014TV Movie documentaryHimself
Spisok korabley2008DocumentaryAlfred Davidson Disko
Blue Skies Beyond the Looking Glass2008Short
Settling the Score2005TV Movie documentaryCanterac
Garbo2005Documentary uncredited
Love Find Andy Hardy Intro2004Video documentary shortJudge James K. Hardy
Checking Out: Grand Hotel2004Video documentary shortHimself / Various roles
The Mesmerist2003ShortThe Innkeeper
Complicated Women2003TV Movie documentaryHimself
Biography2002TV Series documentaryHimself / Numerous screen roles
The Great Christmas Movies1998TV Movie documentaryHimself (1938 trailer for M-G-M "A Christmas Carol")
Hollywoodism: Jews, Movies and the American Dream1998TV Movie documentaryHimself
Escape from It's a Wonderful Life1996TV MoviePotter (uncredited)
Home Alone1990Henry F. Potter (uncredited)
Hollywood1980TV Mini-Series documentaryHimself
That's Entertainment, Part II1976DocumentaryClip from 'A Free Soul'
Hooray for Hollywood1975DocumentaryHimself
That's Entertainment!1974DocumentaryHimself - at Banquet (uncredited)
The Dick Cavett Show1971TV SeriesHimself
Hollywood: The Selznick Years1969TV Movie documentaryActor 'Duel in the Sun' (uncredited)
Black History: Lost Stolen, or Strayed1968TV Movie documentaryHimself / Colonel (uncredited)
The Big Parade of Comedy1964DocumentaryOliver Jordan in 'Dinner at Eight'
Hollywood: The Golden Years1961TV Movie documentaryHimself (uncredited)
MGM Parade1955-1956TV SeriesDisko Capt. Disko Troop Captain Disko Troop ...
Film Fun1955ShortHimself
Yesterday and Today1953
Flicker Flashbacks No. 2, Series 51947Documentary shortHimself (uncredited)
Twenty Years After1944Short
The Miracle of Sound1940Documentary shortHimself
Hollywood: Style Center of the World1940Documentary shortHimself
Cavalcade of the Academy Awards1940Documentary short
The Movies March On1939Short documentaryHimself (segment The New York Hat)
Land of Liberty1939
From the Ends of the Earth1939Documentary shortHimself
The Movie Album1932Documentary shortHimself

Won awards

Won awards

YearAwardCeremonyNominationMovieAward shared with
1960Star on the Walk of FameWalk of FameMotion PictureOn 8 February 1960. At 1724 Vine Street.
1960Star on the Walk of FameWalk of FameRadioOn 8 February 1960. At 1651 Vine Street.
1931OscarAcademy Awards, USABest Actor in a Leading RoleA Free Soul (1931)

Nominated awards

Nominated awards

YearAwardCeremonyNominationMovieAward shared with
1930OscarAcademy Awards, USABest DirectorMadame X (1929)

TitleSalary
The Tender Hearted Boy (1913)$15
Friends (1912)$10 a day

#Quote
1Don't ever forget that acting is the greatest profession ever invented. When you act, you move millions of people, shape their lives, give them a sense of exaltation. No other profession has that power.
2[on how he intends to perform his role in 'Arsene Lupin'] Oh, I'll stumble around, growl a little, limp a little bit.
3L.B. [Louis B. Mayer] gets me $400 worth of cocaine a day to ease my pain. I don't know where he gets it. And I don't care. But I bless him every time it puts me to sleep.
4You can't retire in Hollywood. Nobody gives up a job, even if he;s ninety, or sick, or has money like Midas. Everybody works until his last breath, and when one day they die, they die like Napoleon/s grenadiers, who died with the words "Vive l'Empereur!" Just so, the last words of a director or producer are "Make another take!"
5[1943 comment on Margaret O'Brien] If that child had been born in the middle ages, she'd have been burned as a witch.
6I can remember when nobody believed an actor and didn't care what he believed. Why, the fact that he was an actor made everything he said open to question, because acting was thought to be a vocation embraced exclusively by scatter-brains, wastrels and scamps. I don't believed that's true today and I don't think that it ever was.
7I've got a lot of ham in me.
8This is the age of insincerity. The movies had the misfortune to come along in the twentieth century, and because they appeal to the masses there can be no sincerity in them. Hollywood is tied hand and foot to the demands for artificiality of the masses all over the world.

#Trademark
1On radio, the role of Ebenezer Scrooge in annual broadcasts of "A Christmas Carol". This role led directly to his being cast as Mr. Potter in "It's A Wonderful Life".
2The role of Mr Potter in It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
3Playing grouchy, but usually lovable, elderly men in films

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