Y'all may not have figured this out by now, but I'm a pretty good and often obsessive researcher. So for this guy, whose acting career spanned on screen alone 1911- 1953 (!), there's a lot to research even if I limit myself to 1938-1947, the Kildare-Gillespie years where he appeared in a wheelchair. I wanted to share a few interesting pics I found..cuz I can. I need to think about starting a blog JUST for Lionel Barrymore. But I digress!
|Lionel Barrymore and Bobs Watson, 1938, Young Dr Kildare|
|LB and Watson again, in Calling Dr Kildare, 1939.|
|Dr Kildare's Wedding Day,1941. I am not sure if this confused people, but it's the only time in the series Barrymore stood on his own. He then sits back in his chair.|
|Enemies of Women, 1923, Barrymore on the right|
From obsessive viewing of his films, I know that visible indications of the arthritis, etc which was to lead later to his painful need for a wheelchair probably appeared about 1923-24. There are many stories, well-attested, to his need for painkillers and addiction to then-uncontrolled morphine by 1925-26. He managed in spite of serious pain to act in many, many great films, over 30 after he was in his wheelchair full time. In one, Down to the Sea in Ships, he spent most of his time standing or moving about on crutches.
It is funny how in researching his whole life I see evidence of the same kind of back and forth adaptation to change, the frustration, anger, resentment over not being able to do what one wants all the time. Could I have done what he did with the relatively primitive medications and regimes they had in the 20s-40s? I have no idea. But it seemed a fantastic hell.
Then again, what are we all supposed to do? Roll over and die? Oh no... I'm taking a lot of people with me!