Photo of Lionel Barrymore Lionel Barrymore

The son of thespians Maurice Barrymore and Georgia Drew, Philadelphia native Lionel Barrymore was born April 28, 1878, the eldest brother of actors Ethel and John Barrymore and the future great uncle of actress Drew Barrymore.

Barrymore began his prolific career on stage and built a reputation as a serious actor before transitioning to film, copping an Oscar nod for directing Madame X (1929) and winning the statuette for his brilliant performance in A Free Soul (1931). Known for playing lovable grumps, he starred in numerous movies throughout the 1930s and '40s, including Grand Hotel (1932), Dinner at Eight (1933), You Can't Take It with You (1938) and a series of Doctor Kildare films. But he's perhaps best remembered for his portrayal of villainous miser Mr. Potter in director Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life (1946).

On Nov. 15, 1954, Barrymore died of a heart attack at age 76.

Lionel Barrymore in You Can't Take It with You

You Can't Take It with You

1938 NR

In this Frank Capra classic, Tony (James Stewart) and Alice (Jean Arthur) meet and fall in love. But things are far from rosy: He's the son of a millionaire, and she and her wacky family live in a house that's in the way of the senior Kirby's construction project. Will an office building literally stand in the way of true love? The movie, adapted from a Pulitzer Prize-winning play by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart, delivers the answer.

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