Lionel Barrymore (1878-1954)

Lionel Barrymore, Silent & Sound Film Star

Born Lionel Herbert Blythe in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on April 28th, 1878, into the famous Barrymore acting clan headed by Maurice Barrymore and Georgiana Drew, Lionel was the first Barrymore to appear in motion pictures, making his screen debut in 1908’s “The Paris Hat”, long before his famous brother John Barrymore ventured into films. Lionel worked for the old Biograph studios and also directed several silent motion pictures, some with a young John Gilbert. Silent movies of particular note for Lionel were “The Copperhead” (1920) and “Sadie Thompson” (1928). You can also see Lionel, with a very nice smile and sparkling eyes, in one of Mary Pickford’s earliest surviving films “The New York Hat” (1912) made in Ft. Lee, New Jersey.

Lionel Barrymore made the transition to sound films easily, and won the Academy Award for his role in the early talkie “A Free Soul” (1931); but he is probably best remembered for playing Dr. Gillespie in the Doctor Kildare series of films, for his role playing the mean Mr. Potter in “It’s A Wonderful Life” (1946), and for his sympathetic role in “Key Largo” (1948), with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Becall. From 1940 on Lionel was confined to a wheelchair due to a hip accident and severe arthritis. He was married twice, to Doris Rankin (divorced), and then to Irene Fenwick (till her death). He had two young daughters who both tragically died as babies. Lionel was also a composer of classical music pieces, a painter, and a writer. His autobiography was published in 1951, called “We Barrymores.” Lionel died of a heart attack on November 15th, 1954 in Van Nuys, California. ~ Copyright © 2004

Vintage Bio in “Who’s Who On The Screen” (1920): “Lionel Barrymore is a member of the famous Barrymore family, sometimes called “The Royal Family Of The Stage.” Mr. Barrymore made his first appearance acting in 1893 in “The Rivals.” Included in the long list of successes in which he has played is “Pantaloon” the famous Barrie play “Fires of Fate”, and “The Still Small Voice.” Perhaps his greatest artistic success was achieved as a co-star with his brother John in “The Jest.” Mr. Barrymore has been associated with motion pictures since the days of the old Biograph Company. “The Copperhead”, adapted from the stage play of the same name, in which he also appeared, is included in his best work on the screen. Mr. Barrymore is tall and well proportioned and is dark complexioned. He is an Associated First National Pictures, Inc. star.”

Lionel Barrymore’s Silent Movies

Mysterious Island, The (1929) …. Count Andre Dakkar
River Woman, The (1928) …. Bill Lefty
West of Zanzibar (1928) …. Mr. Crane
Alias Jimmy Valentine (1928) …. Doyle
Road House (1928) …. Henry Grayson
Lion and the Mouse, The (1928) …. John Ryder
Drums of Love (1928) …. Duke Cathos de Alvia
… aka Sentimental Tommy (1928) (USA)

Lionel Barrymore, circa 1928

Lionel Barrymore, circa 1928

Sadie Thompson (1928) …. Alfred Davidson
Thirteenth Hour, The (1927) …. Professor Leroy
Body and Soul (1927) …. Dr. Leyden
Women Love Diamonds (1927) …. Hugo Harlan
Show, The (1927) …. The Greek
Temptress, The (1926) …. Canterac
Bells, The (1926) …. Mathias
Lucky Lady, The (1926) …. Count Ferranzo

Lionel Barrymore and Irene Fenwick

Lionel Barrymore and his bride-to-be Irene Fenwick (from Photoplay Magazine, Aug. 1923)

Paris at Midnight (1926) …. Vautrin
Wife Tamers (1926) …. Mr. Barry
Barrier, The (1926) …. Stark Bennett
Brooding Eyes (1926) …. Slim Jim Carey
Frau mit dem schlechten Ruf, Die (1925)
… aka Woman Who Did, The (1925) (UK)
Splendid Road, The (1925) …. Dan Clehollis
Fifty-Fifty (1925) …. Frederick Harmon
Wrongdoers, The (1925) …. Daniel Abbott
Children of the Whirlwind (1925) …. Joe Ellison
Girl Who Wouldn’t Work, The (1925) …. Gordon Kent
Man of Iron, A (1925) …. Philip Durban
… aka Iron Man, The (1925)
Wedding Women (1924)
I Am the Man (1924) …. James McQuade
Meddling Women (1924) …. Edwin Ainsworth/John Wells
Decameron Nights (1924) …. Saladin
… aka Dekameron-Nächte (1925) (Germany)
America (1924) …. Captain Walter Butler
… aka Love and Sacrifice (1924) (UK)
Eternal City, The (1923) …. Baron Bonelli
Unseeing Eyes (1923) …. Conrad Dean
Enemies of Women (1923) …. Prince Lubimoff
Face in the Fog, The (1922) …. Boston Blackie Dawson
Boomerang Bill (1922) …. Boomerang Bill
Jim the Penman (1921) …. Jaames Ralston
Great Adventure, The (1921) …. Priam Farll

Lionel Barrymore, circa 1920

Lionel Barrymore in 1920

Devil’s Garden, The (1920) …. William Dale
Master Mind, The (1920) …. Henry Allen
… aka Sinners Three (1920) (USA)
Copperhead, The (1920) …. Milt Shanks
National Red Cross Pageant (1917)
Millionaire’s Double, The (1917) …. Bide Bennington
His Father’s Son (1917) …. J. Dabney Barro
End of the Tour, The (1917) …. Bron Bennett
Brand of Cowardice, The (1916) …. Cyril Hamilton
Upheaval, The (1916) …. Jim Gordon
Quitter, The (1916/I) …. Happy Jack Lewis
Dorian’s Divorce (1916) …. Richard Dorian
Yellow Streak, A (1915/I) …. Barry Dale
Dora Thorne (1915) …. Lord Earle
Flaming Sword, The (1915) …. Steve
Romance of Elaine, The (1915) …. Marcus Del Mar/Mr. X
Curious Conduct of Judge Legarde, The (1915) …. Judge Randolph Legarde
… aka Valley of Night, The (1919) (USA: reissue title)
Modern Magdalen, A (1915) …. Lindsay
Wildfire (1915) …. John Keefe
Under the Gaslight (1914) …. William Byke
Exploits of Elaine, The (1914)
Seats of the Mighty, The (1914) …. Monsieur Doltaire
Span of Life, The (1914) …. Richard Blunt
Woman in Black, The (1914/I) …. Robert Crane
Power of the Press, The (1914) …. Steve Carson
Men and Women (1914) …. Stephen Rodman aka Robert Stevens
Brute Force (1914)
… aka In Prehistoric Days (1914)
… aka Primitive Man, The (1914) (USA)
… aka Wars of the Primal Tribes (1914)
Battle at Elderbush Gulch, The (1914)
… aka Battle of Elderbush Gulch, The (1914)
Strongheart (1914) …. Billy Saunders
Judith of Bethulia (1914) …. Extra
… aka Her Condoned Sin (1914) (USA)
Classmates (1914) …. Dumble
House of Discord, The (1913)
All for Science (1913) …. In Detective Agency
So Runs the Way (1913)
Stolen Treaty, The (1913) …. The Japanese Diplomat
Strong Man’s Burden, The (1913) …. John
Crook and the Girl, The (1913) …. The Nephew
Work Habit, The (1913) …. The Father
Indian’s Loyalty, An (1913) …. The Cattle Buyer
I Was Meant for You (1913) …. Lavina’s Father
Under the Shadow of the Law (1913) …. Charles Darnton, the Employer
Mirror, The (1913) …. Daisy’s Father
Pa Says (1913)
Enemy’s Baby, The (1913) …. Ben Brown
Gamble with Death, A (1913) …. Jim Benton, the Bartender
In Diplomatic Circles (1913) …. The Japanese Ambassador
Almost a Wild Man (1913) …. In Audience
Switch Tower, The (1913) …. First Counterfeiter
Death’s Marathon (1913) …. The Financial Backer
Well, The (1913) …. The Farmer
Red Hicks Defies the World (1913) …. The Referee
Timely Interception, A (1913) …. The Farmer’s Brother
Ranchero’s Revenge, The (1913) …. The Ranchero
Just Gold (1913) …. First Brother
Yaqui Cur, The (1913) …. The Easterner
House of Darkness, The (1913) …. The Doctor
Wanderer, The (1913/II) …. The Male Lover
Lady and the Mouse, The (1913) …. The Young Woman’s Father
Misunderstood Boy, A (1913) …. The Father
Little Tease, The (1913) …. In Bar
Perfidy of Mary, The (1913) …. Mary’s Father
Sheriff’s Baby, The (1913) …. Third Bandit
Fate (1913) …. Father, Loving Family
Near to Earth (1913) …. Gato
Unwelcome Guest, The (1913) …. At Auction
Girl’s Stratagem, A (1913)
Wrong Bottle, The (1913) …. The Father
Love in an Apartment Hotel (1913) …. In Hotel Lobby
Massacre, The (1913)
Chance Deception, A (1913) …. A Policeman
Oil and Water (1913) …. In First Audience/In Second Audience/Visitor
Tender Hearted Boy, The (1913)
Adventure in the Autumn Woods, An (1913) …. The Father
Telephone Girl and the Lady, The (1913) …. The Desk Sergeant
Three Friends (1913) …. Second Friend
God Within, The (1912) …. The Woman of the Camp’s Lover
Cry for Help, A (1912) …. The Bum
Burglar’s Dilemma, The (1912) …. The Householder
My Hero (1912)
New York Hat, The (1912) …. Preacher Bolton (minister)
Brutality (1912) …. At Wedding
Informer, The (1912) …. Union Soldier
My Baby (1912) …. At Table
Gold and Glitter (1912) …. The Lover
Heredity (1912) …. Woodsman
Musketeers of Pig Alley, The (1912) …. The Musician’s Friend
Painted Lady, The (1912) …. At Ice Cream Festival
One She Loved, The (1912) …. The Neighbor
Chief’s Blanket, The (1912) …. The Young Man
So Near, Yet So Far (1912) …. In Club
Friends (1912) …. Grizzley Fallon, Dandy Jack’s Friend
Unseen Enemy, An (1912) (uncredited)
Home Folks (1912)
Miser’s Heart, The (1911) …. Jules, the Thief
Battle, The (1911) …. Wagon Driver
Fighting Blood (1911)
Paris Hat, The (1908)

To learn more about Lionel Barrymore visit his profile on The Internet Movie Database

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