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. He is well known for the role of the villainous Henry Potter in Frank Capra’s 1946 film It’s a Wonderful Life.
Barrymore was born Lionel Herbert Blythe in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of actors Georgiana Drew and Maurice Barrymore. He was the elder brother of Ethel and John Barrymore, the uncle of John Drew Barrymore and Diana Barrymore, and the granduncle of Drew Barrymore. Barrymore was raised Roman Catholic. He attended the Episcopal Academy in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
In her autobiography Eleanor Farjeon recalled that she and Barrymore were friends as toddlers; she would take off her shoes and he would kiss her feet.
During World War I Lionel staved off the deadly Spanish Influenza by taking cold alcohol baths as an antiseptic.