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Lionel Barrymore Edit Profile


Lionel Barrymore was an American film and stage actor.


Barrymore, Lionel was born on April 28, 1878 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. Son of Maurice (Herbert Blythe) and Georgiana (Drew) Barrymore, the elder brother of Ethel and John.


He began in the theatre but in the years before the First World War he joined D. W. Griffiths company and acted in a great many two-reelers, occasionally contributing scripts.

He became a leading player only in the mid-1920s when he established himself at MGM: The Face in the Fog (22, Alan Crosland); The Eternal City (23, George Fitzmaurice); America (24, Griffith); The Splendid Road (25, Frank Lloyd); The Bells (26, lames Young); The Barrier (26, George Hill); The Lucky Lady (26, Raoul Walsh); The Temptress (26, Fred Niblo); The Show (27, Tod Browning); Women Love Diamonds (27, Edmund Goulding); Drums of Love (28, Griffith); as Atkinson in Sadie Thompson (28, Walsh); West of Zanzibar (28, Browning); Alias Jimmy Valentine (29, Jack Conway); and The Mysterious Island (29, Lucien Hubbard, Maurice Tourneur, and Benjamin Christensen). But it was in the years after the coming of sound that he was most active. As well as acting—in A Free Sold (30, Clarence Brown), for which he won the best actor Oscar; The Yellow Ticket (31, Walsh); Arsene Lupin (32, Conway); Grand Hotel (32, Goulding); Mala Hari (32, Fitzmaurice); Rasputin and the Empress (32, Richard Boleslavskv); Dinner at Eight (33, George Cukor); Night Flight (33, Brown); and Carolina (34, Henrv King)—he worked as a director at MGM.

His output is little seen today and surrounded with mystery. He directed only three other films, The Rogue Song (29), The Unholy Night (29), and Ten Cents a Dance (31). After his department store mogul in Sweepings (33, John Cromwell), he settled for extravagant character parts: Treasure Island (34, Victor Fleming); David Copperfield (34, Cukor); Mark of the Vampire (34, Browning); Ah, Wilderness! (35, Brown); The Devil Doll (36, Browning); The Gorgeous Hussy (36, Brown); Camille (36, Cukor); and Captains Courageous (37, Fleming), lie played |udge Hardy in the first Andy Hardy movie, A Family Affair (37, George Seitz), and after Saratoga (37, Conway), A Yank at Oxford (38, Conway), Test Pilot (38, Fleming), and You Can't Take It With You (38, Frank Capra), arthritis forced him into a wheelchair.

The most suitable role for this handicap was Dr. Gillespie to Lew Ayres’s Kildare. In fact, Barrymore slogged on after Ayres had been struck off, and played the veteran doctor fourteen times—infirmity prospering at medicine's expense. As he grew older, the crust on his performances hardened until sometimes it could be lifted off to show a little old man asleep underneath: The Man on America’s Conscience (41, William Dieterle); A Guy Named Joe (43, Fleming); Since You Went Away (44, Cromwell); Valley of Decision (45. Tav Garnett); the rancher in Duel in the Sun (46, King Vidor); The Secret Heart (46, Robert Z. Leonard); the gloomy city boss. Potter, in It 's a Wonderful Life (46, Capra); Key Largo (48, John Huston); Down to the Sea in Ships (49, Henry Hathaway); Right Cross (50, |ohn Sturges); Bannerline (51, Don Weis); Lone Star (52, Vincent Sherman); and Main Street Broadway (53, Garnett).


  • Madame X (29) is reputed to be one of the first films to use a moveable microphone, while His Glorious Night (29) is sometimes alleged to have been mounted in order to discredit John Gilbert.


Lionel was unlike John in all important ways: professional, hardworking, ambitious, humorless, and dull.


He was married twice: to Doris Rankin and later Irene Fenwick.

Maurice (Herbert Blythe) Barrymore

Georgiana (Drew) Barrymore

Doris Rankin

Irene Fenwick

John Barrymore
John Barrymore - Brother of Lionel Barrymore