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Lionel Barrymore

Best know for his roles in It’s A Wonderful Life, Key Largo, Grand Hotel, and Dr Kildare in a film career that lasted over 40 years.

Lionel Barrymore



The Battle

The Miser’s Heart



Home Folks


So Near, Yet so Far

The Chief’s Blanket

The One She Loved

The Painted Lady


Gold and Glitter

My Baby

The Informer


The New York Hat

The Burglar’s Dilemma

A Cry for Help

The God Within



Three Friends

The Telephone Girl and the Lady

An Adventure in the Autumn Woods

The Tender-Hearted Boy

Oil and Water

A Chance Deception

Love in an Apartment Hotel

The Wrong Bottle

A Girl’s Stratagem

The Unwelcome Guest

Near to Earth


The Sheriff’s Baby

The Perfidy of Mary

The Little Tease

A Misunderstood Boy

The Lady and the Mouse

The Wanderer

The House of Darkness

The Yaqui Cur

Just Gold

The Ranchero’s Revenge

A Timely Interception

Red Hicks Defies the World

The Well

Death’s Marathon

The Switch Tower

Almost a Wild Man

In Diplomatic Circles

A Gamble with Death

The Enemy’s Baby

Pa Says

The Mirror

Under the Shadow of the Law

I Was Meant for You

An Indian’s Loyalty

The Suffragette Minstrels

The Work Habit

The Crook and the Girl

The Strong Man’s Burden

The Stolen Treaty

So Runs the Way

All for Science

The Battle at Elderbush Gulch

The House of Discord



The Bartered Crown


Her Father’s Silent Partner

The Massacre

Judith of Bethulia


Brute Force

Woman Against Woman

The Cracksman’s Gratitude

Men and Women

The Power of the Press

The Woman in Black

The Span of Life

The Seats of the Mighty

Under the Gaslight




A Modern Magdalen

The Curious Conduct of Judge Legarde

The Romance of Elaine

The Flaming Sword

Dora Thorne

A Yellow Streak



Dorian’s Divorce

The Quitter

The Upheaval

The Brand of Cowardice



The End of the Tour

His Father’s Son

The Millionaire’s Double

National Red Cross Pageant



The Copperhead

The Master Mind

The Devil’s Garden



The Great Adventure

Jim the Penman



Boomerang Bill

The Face in the Fog



Enemies of Women

Unseeing Eyes

The Eternal City




Decameron Nights

Meddling Women

I Am the Man



A Man of Iron

The Girl Who Wouldn’t Work

Children of the Whirlwind

The Wrongdoers


The Splendid Road

Die Frau mit dem schlechten Ruf




Brooding Eyes

The Barrier

Wife Tamers

Paris at Midnight

The Lucky Lady

The Bells

The Temptress



The Show

Women Love Diamonds

Body and Soul

The Thirteenth Hour



Sadie Thompson

Drums of Love

The Lion and the Mouse

Road House

Alias Jimmy Valentine

West of Zanzibar

The River Woman



The Mysterious Island

The Hollywood Revue of 1929



Free and Easy



Guilty Hands

A Free Soul

The Yellow Ticket

Mata Hari



Broken Lullaby

Arsène Lupin

Grand Hotel

The Washington Masquerade

Rasputin and the Empress




Looking Forward

The Stranger’s Return

Dinner at Eight

One Man’s Journey

Night Flight

Christopher Bean

Should Ladies Behave



This Side of Heaven


The Girl from Missouri

Treasure Island



David Copperfield

The Little Colonel

Mark of the Vampire

Public Hero No. 1

The Return of Peter Grimm

Ah, Wilderness!



The Voice of Bugle Ann

The Road to Glory

The Devil-Doll

The Gorgeous Hussy




A Family Affair

Captains Courageous


Navy Blue and Gold



A Yank at Oxford

Test Pilot

You Can’t Take It with You

Young Dr. Kildare




Let Freedom Ring

Calling Dr. Kildare

On Borrowed Time

The Secret of Dr. Kildare



The Stars Look Down

Dr. Kildare’s Strange Case

Dr. Kildare Goes Home

Dr. Kildare’s Crisis



The Penalty

The Bad Man

The People vs. Dr. Kildare

Dr. Kildare’s Wedding Day

Lady Be Good



Dr. Kildare’s Victory

Calling Dr. Gillespie

Dr. Gillespie’s New Assistant

Tennessee Johnson



Dr. Gillespie’s Criminal Case

The Last Will and Testament of Tom Smith

A Guy Named Joe



3 Men in White

Since You Went Away

Dragon Seed

Thousands Cheer



Between Two Women

The Valley of Decision



Three Wise Fools

It’s a Wonderful Life

The Secret Heart

Duel in the Sun



Dark Delusion



Key Largo



Down to the Sea in Ships




Right Cross






Lone Star



Main Street to Broadway


Two of the films in which Barrymore appeared—Grand Hotel (1932) and You Can’t Take It with You (1938)—won the Academy Award for Best Picture. He was considered for the Academy Award for Best Director for his 1929 film, Madame X, and won the Best Actor award for his performance in A Free Soul (1931).

I’ve got a lot of ham in me. ~ Lionel Barrymore

Lionel Barrymore (born Lionel Herbert Blythe; 1878–1954) was an actor of stage, screen and radio. He also directed several films, wrote scripts, created etchings, sketches and composed music. He was the eldest child of the actors Maurice Barrymore and Georgie Drew Barrymore, and his two siblings were John and Ethel; these and other family members were part of an acting dynasty. He attended private schools as a child, including the Art Students League of New York. While raised a Roman Catholic, Barrymore attended the Episcopal Academy in Philadelphia. Barrymore graduated from Seton Hall Preparatory School, the Roman Catholic college prep school, in the class of 1891.

Although reluctant to follow his parents’ career, Barrymore appeared together with his grandmother Louisa Lane Drew in a stage production of The Rivals at the age of 15. He soon found success on stage in character roles. Although he took a break from acting in 1906–09 to train in Paris as a painter, he was not successful as an artist and returned to the US and acting.

Barrymore began his film career in 1911, appearing in numerous silent films, many of which have subsequently been lost. In 1912, he signed a contract with D. W. Griffith’s Biograph Company and appeared as a character actor in short films before moving into feature-length productions in 1914. He began writing scripts and directing films shortly afterwards, and for the next five years he did not act on the legitimate stage. Although he had several successes on Broadway after the First World War, he encountered strongly negative criticism in a 1921 production of Macbeth and in three productions in a row in 1925. Afterwards, he never again appeared on the New York stage. In 1925 he left New York for Hollywood, and signed a contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, where he became a close friend of Louis B. Mayer and for whom he made numerous films. He directed several films from 1929 to 1931 but concentrated on acting after that.

During the 1930s and 1940s, he became stereotyped as a grouchy but sweet elderly man in such films as The Mysterious Island (1929), Grand Hotel (1932, with John Barrymore), Captains Courageous (1937), You Can’t Take It with You (1938), On Borrowed Time (1939, with Cedric Hardwicke), Duel in the Sun (1946), Three Wise Fools (1946) and Key Largo (1948).

Barrymore became well known in curmudgeonly roles. In 1938 he broke his hip and, aggravated by arthritis, he lived the remainder of his life in a wheelchair. Mayer made sure that roles were found or written to accommodate Barrymore, who continued to act in films until 1953. During that time he appeared as Dr. Gillespie in the popular Dr. Kildare film series with Lew Ayres in the titular role, and as Mr. Potter in It’s a Wonderful Life—a role that was highly placed on the American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Heroes and Villains in a film that the critic Philip French described as “a complex inspirational work”. Beginning in the 1930s, Barrymore increasingly worked in radio, initially as Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, which was broadcast annually from 1934 to 1953, then in Mayor of the Town beginning in 1942, and also in a radio series spun off from the Dr. Kildare films (playing the same character that he had played in the films), among others.

He was married twice, to actresses Doris Rankin and Irene Fenwick, a one-time lover of his brother, John. Doris’s sister Gladys was married to Lionel’s uncle Sidney Drew, which made Gladys both his aunt and sister-in-law. Doris Rankin bore Lionel two daughters, Ethel Barrymore II (1908 – 1910) and Mary Barrymore (1916 – 1917). Neither child survived infancy. Barrymore never truly recovered from the deaths of his girls, and their loss undoubtedly strained his marriage to Doris Rankin, which ended in 1923. Years later, Barrymore developed a fatherly affection for Jean Harlow, who was born about the same time as his daughters. When Harlow died in 1937, Barrymore and Clark Gable mourned her as though she had been family.

Barrymore died on November 15, 1954 from a heart attack in Van Nuys, California, and was entombed in the Calvary Cemetery in East Los Angeles, California

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