Lionel Barrymore

Actor + Director + Screenwriter
Born Apr 28, 1878

Lionel Barrymore was an American actor of stage, screen and radio. He won an Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in A Free Soul (1931). He is well known for the role of the villainous Henry Potter character in Frank Capra's 1946 film It's a Wonderful Life.… Read More

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1878 Birth Born on April 28, 1878.


1905 27 Years Old In 1905 Lionel and his siblings, John and Ethel, were all being groomed under the tutelage of Frohman. … Read More


1910 32 Years Old In 1910, after he and Doris had spent many years in Paris, Lionel came back to Broadway, where he established his reputation as a dramatic and character actor. … Read More
1911 33 Years Old Barrymore began making films about 1911 with D.W. Griffith at the Biograph Studios. … Read More
1915 37 Years Old In 1915 he co-starred with Lillian Russell in a movie called Wildfire, one of the legendary Russell's few film appearances. … Read More


1920 42 Years Old In early 1920, Barrymore reprised his title role in the stage play, The Copperhead (1920), in a Paramount Artcraft film of the same name.
1923 45 Years Old 1 More Event
…  Barrymore never truly recovered from the deaths of his girls, and their loss undoubtedly strained his marriage to Doris Rankin, which ended in 1923. … Read More
Before the formation of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1924, Barrymore forged a good relationship with Louis B. Mayer early on at Metro Pictures. … Read More
1926 48 Years Old After 1926, however, he worked almost exclusively for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, appearing opposite such luminaries as John Gilbert, Lon Chaney, Sr., Jean Harlow, Wallace Beery, Marie Dressler, Greta Garbo, Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, his brother John and sister Ethel.


1928 50 Years Old 1 More Event
On the occasional loan-out, Barrymore had a big success with Gloria Swanson in 1928's Sadie Thompson and the aforementioned Griffith film, Drums of Love. … Read More
1929 51 Years Old 1 More Event
Screenwriter Anita Loos claimed that the arthritis was so bad by 1929, Barrymore was taking large quantities of morphine.
1930 52 Years Old Marie Dressler biographer Matthew Kennedy notes that when Barrymore won his Best Oscar award in 1930, the arthritis was still so minor that it only made him limp a little as he went on stage to accept the honor. … Read More
1936 58 Years Old Others claim that Barrymore's broken hip alone was the cause of Barrymore's incapacity. Paul Donnelly says Barrymore's inability to walk was caused by a drawing table falling on him in 1936, breaking Barrymore's hip.
1937 59 Years Old 1 More Event
Barrymore tripped over a cable while filming Saratoga in 1937, and broke his hip again. (Film historian Robert A. Osborne says Barrymore also suffered a broken kneecap.) The injury was painful enough that Donnelly, quoting Barrymore, says that Louis B. Mayer bought Barrymore $400 worth of cocaine every day to help him cope with the pain and allow him to sleep. … Read More


1938 60 Years Old 1 More Event
During the filming of 1938's You Can't Take It With You, the pain of standing with crutches was so severe that Barrymore required hourly shots of painkillers.
1945 67 Years Old Barrymore was also a prolific composer. His works ranged from solo piano pieces to large-scale orchestral works, such as "Tableau Russe". His piano compositions, "Scherzo Grotesque" and "Song Without Words", were published by G. Schirmer in 1945. … Read More
1950 72 Years Old In a series of Doctor Kildare movies in the 1930s and 1940s, he played the irascible Doctor Gillespie, a role he repeated in an MGM radio series that debuted in New York in 1950 and was later syndicated. … Read More
1954 77 Years Old Lionel Barrymore died on November 15, 1954 from a heart attack in Van Nuys, California, and was entombed in the Calvary Cemetery in East Los Angeles, California. … Read More
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