Lionel BarrymoreCelebrity Life and Background Check
Who is Lionel Barrymore?
Born on 28th April 1878 as Lionel Herbert Blythe in Philadelphia, Lionel Barrymore was the eldest of three children to actors Georgiana Drew Barrymore and Herbert Arthur Chamberlayne Blythe, popularly known as Maurice Barrymore.
As a child, Lionel Barrymore attended private school and was raised as a Roman Catholic. He graduated from the Roman Catholic college prep school ‘Seton Hall Preparatory School,’ in 1891.
Lionel Barrymore was reluctant to follow his parents’ footsteps into the acting world and wanted to be a painter also compose music. He was on tour with his grandmother at age fifteen in a stage production of ‘The Rivals’ and soon found success. He appeared on Broadway in his early twenties and acted in several plays.
Unhappy with his career, he traveled to Paris in 1905 with his wife and trained as an artist. Unfortunately, he neither achieved success as an artist and returned to the U.S. in 1909. He returned to stage in December 1909 and backed out due to nervous breakdown.
Though he established his career in films from 1912 to 1917, he continued his stage career until 1923. His last successful stage performance was ‘Laugh, Clown, Laugh’ in 1923 with Irene Fenwick, his second wife. It was in 1926 that he signed a film contract with MGM and never got back to stage performance again.
Work is Worship: Performance, Rewards
In 1909 Lionel joined Biograph Studios and began to appear in leading roles in ‘The Battle’ (1911), ‘The New York Hat’ (1912) and so on. He also got involved in writing and directing and acted in more than sixty silent films with director D.W. Griffith and later on with MGM. He made several freelance pictures and also went to Germany to star in ‘Decameron Nights’ produced and directed by Herbert Wilcox.
After being signed by Metro-Goldwyn-Myer in 1926, Lionel Barrymore’s first talking picture was ‘The Lion and the Mouse’ which he excelled in thanks to his experience in stage performance delivering dialogues.
He directed several films such as ‘His Glorious Night’, ‘Madam X’, ‘The Rogue Song’ and so on. He played several roles such as the evil Rasputin in ‘Rasputin and the Empress’, ailing Oliver Jordan in ‘Dinner at Eight’, the Occultist expert Professor Zelen in the classic horror ‘Mark of the Vampire.’
Lionel Barrymore was Oscar-nominated as a director for the movie ‘Madam X’ in 1929. He was also nominated for his performance as an alcoholic lawyer in ‘A Free Soul’ in 1931 and won Academy Award for Best Actor.
He was well known for his performance in ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ as Mr. Potter, a miserly and mean-spirited banker. Unfortunately, broke his hip twice and with a deteriorating condition, he could not act without a wheelchair or crutches. His last movie was a musical comedy with his sister Ethel ‘MainStreet to Broadway’.
After his death, Lionel Barrymore received two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He received a motion picture star and a radio star. He was also inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame with his siblings John and Ethel.
What about Love Life? Was there time for love?
Lionel Barrymore found love twice. He was married to Doris Rankin with whom he left to Paris to where he trained as an artist and failed to build a career. His first child Ethel was born in Paris.
After returning back to the U.S., he often performed on stage with his wife Doris. They had two girls, Ethel and Mary, neither of whom survived infancy. Lionel Barrymore met Irene Fenwick while acting together in ‘The Claw’ in 1922 and married her after divorcing Doris.
Irene was once Lionel’s brother John’s lover. This triggered a dispute between the brother which was resolved two years later, just before the premiere of John’s film ‘Don Juan’ in 1926.
Death is inevitable!
Lionel Barrymore died on 15th November of 1954 after a massive heart attack in Van Nuys, California. He left behind his massive estate in the Beverly Crest area which is now estimated to cost around $7.095 million.
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