Lionel Barrymore

Lionel Barrymore


4/28/1878, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA



Birth Name



Also Known As

Lionel Blythe
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Lionel Barrymore was born April 28, 1878 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His father, Maurice Barrymore, and his mother, Georgiana Drew, were both famous stage actors. Along with his sister Ethel and brother John, Lionel seemed destined for a stage career, and until the 1920s he starred in a succession…more


Trivia and Quotes

  • Trivia

    • Lionel Barrymore made his film debut in 1908, in the filmThe Paris Hat for the Biograph Company. However, it appears that any copy of that film has been lost and Lionel's next film in 1911, Fighting Blood, is his first surviving screen appearance.

    • Mr. Barrymore began his career as an actor for the Biograph Company.

    • Lionel Barrymore was an individual of diverse talents.  He is credited with the invention of the boom mike.

    • From 1950 to 1951, Lionel voiced the character of Doctor Gillespie on the radio show The Story of Dr. Kildare.

    • Lionel Barrymore starred with sister Ethel in the 1953 film, Main Street To Broadway. This was only the second time the two had worked together in their long careers.

    • Lionel Barrymore starred with brother John in four films, between 1932 and 1933. These films were, Arsene Lupin, Grand Hotel, Night Flight, and Dinner At Eight.

    • Lionel Barrymore only starred in one film with both of his equally famous siblings, John and Ethel. The 1932 film, Rasputin And The Empress.

    • In 1913, Lionel's salary for making the movie The Tender Hearted Boy was 15 dollars a day.

    • Lionel and his first wife, Doris Rankin, had two children, Ethel and Mary. Both children supposedly died at a young age (reports of stillborn to age eight). There have also been reports of a third daughter. Ethel Barrymore mentioned a niece that was eight years old in her autobiography. Lionel always said that he had no children and Doris Rankin would not discuss the subject after her divorce from Lionel after nineteen years of marriage.

    • Lionel's salary while working on the film Friends, in 1912, was $10.00 a day.

    • Lionel was not only an accomplished actor but also an author, artist, and director through out his career.

    • Every year from 1936 until his death, Lionel voiced Scrooge in the radio version of A Christmas Carol.

    • Lionel played opposite, his lifelong friend, Clark Gable in five movies: A Free Soul, Night Flight, Saratoga, Test Pilot, and Lone Star.

    • Lionel stared in 213 movies over his 45 years in show business.

    • Lionel played the grouchy but lovable old man in movies and TV. This type of role became his trademark.

    • Lionel's second wife was actress Irene Fenwick. They were married from June 14, 1923 until her death on December 24, 1936. Irene Fenwick suffered from what would be diagnosed as Anorexia Nervosa today. She died at 49 from complications of the disease.

    • Lionel married actress Doris Rankin in June of 1904. They were divorced in March of 1923.

    • Lionel is best known for his role as Mr. Potter in the Christmas classic It's A Wonderful Life.

    • In 1930, Lionel was nominated for the Best Director Oscar for Madame X.

    • Lionel and his sister, actress Ethel Barrymore, were the first brother and sister Oscar winner.

    • Lionel was 6" tall.

    • Lionel is buried in Calvary Cemetery, in Hollywood, California, next to his brother John and his second wife Irene.

    • Lionel was raised and buried a Roman Catholic but was not a practising Catholic.

    • Lionel is the Uncle of actor John Drew Barrymore and the Great Uncle of actress Drew Barrymore.

    • Lionel was confined to a wheelchair, in 1940, after a hip injury and suffering from sever arthritis of the hips.

    • Lionel won the Best Actor Oscar in 1931 for his role of Stephen Ashe in the movie A Free Soul.

    • He has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. One of Mr. Barrymore's stars on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame is located at 1724 Vine Street.

  • Quotes

    • Lionel: 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.

    • Lionel: Hollywood is tied hand and foot to the demands for artificiality of the masses all over the world.

    • Lionel: Half the people in Hollywood are dying to be discovered and the other half are afraid they will be.

    • Lionel: I 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 believe that's true today and I don't think that it ever was.

    • Lionel: I've got a lot of ham in me.