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Lionel Barrymore

Lionel Barrymore (April 28, 1878 - November 15, 1954), born Lionel Herbert Blythe, was an American actor of stage, screen and radio as well as a film director. He remains best known to modern audiences for the role of villainous Mr. Potter in Frank Capra's 1946 film It's a Wonderful Life and as Ebenezer Scrooge in annual broadcasts of A Christmas Carol during the 40s and 50s. He is also a member of the theatrical Barrymore family: He was the elder brother of Ethel and John Barrymore, the uncle of John Drew Barrymore and Diana Barrymore and the great-uncle of Drew Barrymore.


The Hollywood Review of 1929 (1930)

The Love Parade (1931)

Grand Hotel (1933)

Cleopatra (1935)

David Copperfield (1936)

Test Pilot (1939)

It's a Wonderful Life (1947)


Lionel acted from his wheelchair from 1938 onwards due to the effects of arthritis and a hip injury.

He was one of the very few screen actors in the 1930s, 1940s and early 1950s who had a prolific career despite being in a wheelchair. From 1938, his screen roles were written to accommodate his disability.

Lionel is the great uncle of Drew Barrymore.

He and his sister Ethel Barrymore were the first Oscar-winning brother and sister in acting categories.

Lionel studied musical composition with Eugene Zador for ten years.

His piano compositions, "Scherzo Grotesque" and "Song Without Words", were published by G. Schirmer in 1945. Upon the death of his brother John in 1942, he composed a work "In Memoriam", which was performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra. He also composed the theme song of the radio program Mayor of the Town.

Gladys, the sister of his first wife Doris Rankin, was married to Lionel's uncle Sidney Drew, which made Gladys both his aunt and sister-in-law.

Lionel registered for the draft during World War II, despite his age and disability, to encourage others to enlist in the military.

He also attended art school in New York and Paris and was a skillful graphic artist.

He wrote a historical novel, Mr. Cantonwine: A Moral Tale, in 1953.

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