Lionel Barrymore was the eldest brother in a a famed family of actors and himself a veteran of stage, screen and radio.
He made his stage debut in 1883 at 5, and in 1909 entered the movies at a time when they were called "leaping tintypes."
Barrymore wrote movie scenarios at $25 apiece, toured in vaudeville and in his early youth studied art in Paris for two years. He abandoned his ambition to become a painter, he once said, because "acting was the only sure way I knew of getting salt and pepper to put in water to make believe it was soup."
Barrymore made his debut on the New York stage in "The Rivals," in which his grandmother was cast as Mrs. Malaprop.
He joined Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to star in "The Barrier" in 1926 and won an Academy Award in 1931 for the best performance by an actor in "A Free Soul."
Others of his many movies included "David Copperfield," "Camille," "Captains Courageous," "Test Pilot," "You Can't Take It With You" and "The Return of Peter Grimm."
In the "Doctor Kildare" series he was the gruff Dr. Gillespie. On radio his voice became a familiar sound to millions in the weekly "Mayor of the Town" and as Dickens' Scrooge, a character he played at Christmas time for years.
In addition to his stage and film careers, Barrymore wrote several books including "We Barrymores," which traces traces the background and experiences of the Barrymore family and was co-authored with Cameron Shipp.
Barrymore was also a proficient composer. His musical compositions "Tableau Russe" and Prelude and Fugue and others were played by symphony orchestras in Los Angeles and New York.
But he disparaged remarks that his musical works would ever become immortal.
"Why, I'm an actor," he once said. "People would think me impertinent if they believed I was taking myself seriously as a composer."
Points of interest
|1928||Best Director||Madame X||Nomination|
|1930||Best Actor||A Free Soul||Win|