Lionel Barrymore

Lionel Barrymore was born April 28th, 1878 in Philadelphia, PA.  The oldest brother of the legendary Barrymore acting family. He was an incredible actor, and played opposite his brother John, and with his sister Ethel, and appeared in films around 1910 to supplement their stage income.  It was Barrymore who made his choice to be a movie actor professionally,  when he appeared in the Biograph movie "The Battle " in 1911.  He starred opposite Mary Pickford in the Biograph  movie "The New York Hat" in 1912. He also starred in the Biograph movies, "The Informer" 1912, "Judith Of  Bethulia" 1913, and "A Modern Magdalene" 1915. He then left Biograph and went to work for Jesse Lasky Studios, and First National Pictures. He reunited with Biograph Director D. W. Griffith making "America" 1924. In 1926, Barrymore signed his lengthy contract with MGM Pictures. He was an actor, and occasionally directed. He starred with Greta Garbo in "The Temptress" 1926, "The Show" 1927, and "West Of Zanzibar" 1928.  He was loaned out to United artists to star in "Sadie Thompson" with Gloria Swanson., and "Drums Of Love". Barrymore directed a few films, but the most infamous one  was "His Glorious Night" (MGM, 1929) when actor John Gilbert spoke for the first time. This proved to be disastrous for John  Gilbert .  Since,  like many silent stars of the time,  his voice did not match his matinee -idol looks. Barrymore then concentrated on acting and won an Academy Award for "A Free Soul" in 1931. His amazing monologue at the end of the film was shot in one take. After this, Barrymore would create 250 roles in his great career, including"Grand Hotel", "Dinner At Eight",  "Camille", and "It's A Wonderful Life" among many others, even though he was struck down with polio in the mid 1930's and was bound to a wheelchair. He composed a symphony in his brother John's memory called "In  Memoriam". He also authored "We Barrymore's" in 1951 which was based on his family's life. His last film was "Main Street To Broadway" (MGM, 1953) where he appeared as himself.  Barrymore died November 15th, 1954, in Los Angeles, California. Without a doubt, he was truly America's greatest character actor.