Lionel Barrymore (April 28, 1878 – November 15, 1954).Lionel and Doris, were living in Paris in 1908, so Lionel could attended art school and where their first baby, Ethel, was born. He soon began performing in films, The Battle (1911), The New York Hat (1912).
He also performed in the film, Friends and Three Friends (1913). In 1915 he co-starred with, Lillian Russell in a movie called, Wildfire.
The last silent film he directed was called, Life's Whirlpool (1917), which starred his sister, Ethel. In early 1920, Barrymore reprised his title role in the stage play, The Copperhead (1920), in a Paramount film of the same name.
Before the formation of MGM in 1924, Barrymore became good friends with Louis B. Mayer, at Metro Pictures. He made many silent movies for Metro, most of them now lost. He occasionally freelanced, returning to Griffith in 1924 to film, America. His last film for Griffith was, Drums of Love(1928).
After Lionel and Doris divorced in 1923, he married Irene Fenwick. The two went to Italy to film, The Eternal City for Metro Pictures, combining work with their honeymoon. In 1924 he went to Germany to star in British producer/director Herbert Wilcox's Anglo-German co-production Decameron Nights, filmed at UFA's Babelsberg studios outside Berlin. Before his marriage to Irene, he and his brother John stopped talking because Irene had been one of John's lovers. The brothers didn't speak for two years and weren't seen together until the premiere of John's film, Don Juan(1926).
In 1924, he left Broadway for Hollywood. He starred as Frederick Harmon in the film, Fifty-Fifty (1925) opposite Hope Hampton and Louise Glaum and made several other movies with Boris Karloff such as, The Bells.
After 1926, he worked almost exclusively for MGM and performed with actors such as: John Gilbert, Lon Chaney, Sr., Jean Harlow, Wallace Beery, Marie Dressler, Greta Garbo, Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, and his brother John.
On the occasional loan-out, Barrymore had a huge hit with Gloria Swanson in 1928's Sadie Thompson and the film, Drums of Love.
Sadie Thompson Video: First of 7.
In 1929, he returned to directing films. During this early sound film period, he made, His Glorious Night with John Gilbert, Madame X starring Ruth Chatterton and Rogue Song, Laurel and Hardy's first color film.
Barrymore returned to acting in front of the camera in 1931. In that year, he won an Academy Award for his role as an alcoholic lawyer in, A Free Soul (1931), after being nominated in 1930 for Best Director for Madame X. He played characters, like the evil Rasputin in the 1932 Rasputin and the Empress (in which he co-starred with John Barrymore and Ethel Barrymore) and Oliver Jordan in, Dinner at Eight (1933) also with John Barrymore, although they had no scenes together).
During the 1930s and 1940s, he became stereotyped as, cranky, but.. sweet elderly men, in the films: The Mysterious Island (1929), Grand Hotel (1932), Captains Courageous (1937), You Can't Take It with You (1938), Duel in the Sun (1946), and Key Largo (1948).
In a series of Doctor Kildare movies in the 1930s and 1940s, he played the Doctor Gillespie, repeating the role he'd created 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 and performed his role as Gillespie in a wheelchair later, his worsening arthritis kept him in the chair. The injury also kept him from his playing Ebenezer Scrooge, in the 1938 MGM film version of A Christmas Carol, a role Barrymore played every year on the radio from 1934 through 1953.
His final film appearance was a cameo in Main Street to Broadway, an MGM musical comedy released in 1953. His sister Ethel also performed in the film.
Maybe one of his best known roles, was as Mr. Potter, the miserly banker in, It's a Wonderful Life (1946)opposite James Stewart.
The role suggested that of the "unreformed" stage of Barrymore's "Scrooge" characterization. Lionel's wife, Irene, died on Christmas Eve of 1936 and Lionel did not perform his annual Scrooge that year.John filled in as Scrooge for his grieving brother. He wanted to perform on television in the 1950s but wanted to remain loyal to his old friend and employer Louis B. Mayer and MGM.
Barrymore was also a composer. His works ranged from solo piano pieces to "Tableau Russe." His piano compositions, "Scherzo Grotesque" and "Song Without Words", were published by G. Schirmer in 1945.
Barrymore was also a very skillful graphic artist. For years, he had a art studio attached to his home in Los Angeles. His etchings and drawings are treasured by collectors around the world.