Lionel Newman started out as a conductor and orchestrator working on various live shows before joining his brother Alfred Newman at 20th Century Fox, initially as a rehearsal pianist. Among other singers he had played piano for Mae West before this move into film work. Once established in the movie business, his career then closely resembles that of his elder brothers Alfred Newman and Emil Newman, with work on a wide variety of films. In Lionel's case his career had a certain successful specialisation in the world of film musicals, often acting as musical director but sometimes also adapting the music, though credits include many films as conductor or music supervisor. The three brothers dominated the music department at 20th Century Fox and many of their offspring were also to build careers in film music.
Lionel Newman scored Elvis Presley's first film "Love me Tender", and at her request he was musical director for virtually all of Marilyn Monroe's films at the studio. In total he is credited with over 200 films and he also received 11 oscar nominations, winning the award along with Lennie Hayton for best musical score for "Hello Dolly!". Two of those nominations include Best Musical Score for "There's No Business Like Show Business" and "Doctor Dolittle"