“Of all the roles I’ve done, the one I’d like best to be remembered for is Scrooge. It is unquestionably one of my favorites.” Lionel Barrymore, Dec. 21, 1947. The New York Times. (Interview with Dorothy O’Leary).
When MGM Records released A Christmas Carol in 1947, Lionel Barrymore had been playing Ebenezer Scrooge for twelve years on the radio. Starting in 1934, CBS presented the Charles Dickens’ classic story each year and it soon became a much loved Christmas tradition. Barrymore, in his radio debut, embodied Scrooge to perfection. As he revealed in a 1947 New York Times interview, “I seem to shrink and an unnatural meanness of disposition comes over me. I seem to be Scrooge in body and mind.”
Barrymore went on to play the role 17 times before his death in November, 1954, and only the direst of circumstances prevented him from playing it. When his wife died in 1936 he was unable to perform, and his brother John rushed to fill in for him. He also missed the performance of 1938 when serious illness forced Orson Welles to substitute. — Library of Congress