From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Lionel Barrymore was an American actor of stage, screen and radio as well as a film director. He won an Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in A Free Soul (1931), and remains best known to modern audiences for the role of the villainous Mr. Potter character in Frank Capra's 1946 film It's a Wonderful Life. He is also particularly remembered as Ebenezer Scrooge in annual broadcasts of A Christmas Carol during his last two decades. He is also known for playing Dr. Leonard Gillespie in MGM's nine Dr. Kildare films, a role he reprised in a further six films focussing solely on Gillespie and in a radio series entitled The Story of Dr. Kildare. He was a member of the theatrical Barrymore family.