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Place of Death
Van Nuys, CA
Cause of Death
Claim to Fame
Young Dr. Kildare
Profile Bio Text
Lionel Barrymore (April 28, 1878 – November 15, 1954) was an American Academy Award-winning actor of stage, radio and film.
Barrymore was born Lionel Herbert Blythe in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of actors Georgiana Drew and Maurice Barrymore (née Blythe). He was the elder brother of Ethel and John Barrymore, the uncle of John Drew Barrymore, and the grand-uncle (or great-uncle) of Drew Barrymore. Barrymore was raised Roman Catholic.
He was married to actresses Doris Rankin and Irene Fenwick, a one-time lover of his brother John. Doris Rankin bore Lionel two daughters, Ethel Barrymore II (born 1909) and Mary Barrymore (born 1910). Unfortunately, neither baby girl survived infancy, though Mary lived a few months. Lionel 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 around the same time as his two daughters and would have been around their age. When Jean died in 1937, Lionel and Clark Gable mourned her as though she had been family.
Barrymore began his stage career in the early 1900s. In 1907, after spending many years in Paris, he came back to Broadway, where he established his reputation as dramatic actor. He and Doris often acted together when in the theater. He proved his talent in many other plays such as Peter Ibbetson (with brother John) (1917), The Copperhead (1918) (with wife Doris) and The Jest (1919) (again with John).
In 1924, he left Broadway for Hollywood. In 1931, he won an Academy Award for his role of an alcoholic lawyer in A Free Soul (1931), after having been nominated in 1930 for Best Director for Madame X. Although he could play many types of characters, such as the evil Rasputin in the 1932 Rasputin and the Empress (in which he co-starred with siblings John and Ethel Barrymore), he was, during the 1930s and 1940s, stereotyped as grouchy, but usually sweet, elderly men in such films as The Mysterious Island (1929), Grand Hotel (1932, with John), Dinner at Eight (1933, the film also featured brother John, but they had no scenes together), Captains Courageous (1937), You Can`t Take It with You (1938), Duel in the Sun (1946), and Key Largo (1948).
He played the irascible Doctor Gillespie in a series of Doctor Kildare movies in the 1930s and 1940s, repeating the role in the radio series throughout the 1940s. He also played the title role in another 1940s radio series, Mayor of the Town. Barrymore had broken his hip in an accident, hence he played Gillespie in a wheelchair; later, his worsening arthritis kept him in the chair. The injury also precluded his playing Ebenezer Scrooge in the 1938 MGM film version of A Christmas Carol, a role which Barrymore had played annually on the radio since 1934, and would continue to 1951.
Perhaps his best known role, due to perennial Christmas time replays on television, was Mr. Potter, the miserly and mean-spirited banker in It`s a Wonderful Life (1946). The role suggested that of the "unreformed" stage of Barrymore`s "Scrooge" characterization.
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.
He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1724 Vine Street.
Couple Profile Source
Full Name at Birth
Lionel Herbert Blythe
Maurice Barrymore (Patriarch of the Barrymores, actor)
Georgiana Drew (Actress)
John Barrymore (Actor)
Ethel Barrymore (Actress)
John Drew (grandfather) (stage actor), Louisa Drew (grandmother) (stage actress, theatre owner), Drew Barrymore (great-niece), Mr. & Mrs. Sidney Drew (aunt & uncle)
Actor/Actress, Director, Soundtrack
Has Detailed Data (New)
Lionel Barrymore (born Lionel Herbert Blythe; April 28, 1878 – November 15, 1954) was an American actor of stage, screen and radio as well as a film director. He won an Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in A Free Soul (1931), and remains best known to modern audiences for the role of the villainous Mr. Potter character in Frank Capra's 1946 film It's a Wonderful Life. He is also particularly remembered as Ebenezer Scrooge in annual broadcasts of A Christmas Carol during his last two decades. He is also known for playing Dr. Leonard Gillespie in MGM's nine Dr. Kildare films, a role he reprised in a further six films focussing solely on Gillespie and in a radio series entitled The Story of Dr. Kildare. He was a member of the theatrical Barrymore family.
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