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John Barrymore

Biography

Prolific actor of stage and film, and grandfather of Drew Barrymore, who starred in Don Juan and Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde. He originally wished to get away his theatrical traditions and attemptedto be considered a cartoonist and reporter for papers in NEW YORK, though he ultimately decided to sign up for the family members business. He produced his debut on stage on the Cleveland Movie theater in Chicago in 1903. His theatrical profession became popular when he starred within a silent film version of Hamlet in 1922, having starred as Dane in the Broadway creation for 101 shows. His parents, Maurice and Georgiana Drew, had been well-known stage stars, and his siblings also became stars in film and movie theater. His favorite granddaughter is well-known movie celebrity Drew Barrymore.

Quick Facts


Full Name John Barrymore
Date Of Birth February 15, 1882
Died May 29, 1942, Los Angeles, California, United States
Place Of Birth Philadelphia, PA
Height 1.75 m
Profession Stage Actor
Education Georgetown Preparatory School
Nationality American
Spouse Elaine Barrie, Dolores Costello, Michael Strange, Katherine Corri Harris
Children John Drew Barrymore, Diana Barrymore, Dolores Ethel Mae Barrymore
Parents Maurice Barrymore, Georgiana Drew
Siblings Lionel Barrymore, Ethel Barrymore
Movies Grand Hotel, Dinner at Eight, Don Juan, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Rasputin and the Empress, A Bill of Divorcement, Twentieth Century, The Beloved Rogue, Romeo and Juliet, The Sea Beast, Beau Brummel, Sherlock Holmes, Svengali, When a Man Loves, Night Flight, The Mad Genius, Counsellor at Law, Topaze, Arsène Lupin, The Great Man Votes, The Show of Shows, Maytime, Playmates, Marie Antoinette, Bulldog Drummond's Revenge, Eternal Love, True Confession, Bulldog Drummond's Peril, General Crack, Moby Dick, Long Lost Father, The Invisible Woman, State's Attorney, Hold That Co-ed, Bulldog Drummond Comes Back, Reunion in Vienna, Spawn of the North, An American Citizen, The Great Profile, The Incorrigible Dukane, Romance in the Dark, The Red Widow, The Lost Bridegroom, The Test of Honor, Nearly a King, Night Club Scandal, The Man from Mexico, Are You a Mason?, Raffles, the Amateur Cracksman, The Man from Blankley's, Here Comes the Bride
Star Sign Aquarius

  • Facts
  • Filmography
  • Awards
  • Salaries
  • Quotes
  • Trademarks
  • Pictures

#Fact
1Regarding the costume romance films he starred in during the 20s, Barrymore jokingly referred to them as 'male impersonations of Lilyan Tashman.'.
2For his performance in Beau Brummel (1924) he was given a special self-created award from Rudolph Valentino.
3Supported his brother Lionel Barrymore when Lionel's wife Irene Fenwick (a long-ago girlfriend of John's) died, and filled in for Lionel as Ebenezer Scrooge in an annual radio production of "A Christmas Carol" on the day after Irene's death (December 25, 1936).
4Played by Jack Cassidy in W.C. Fields and Me (1976). Barrymore was Cassidy's idol.
5Was originally supposed to play Sheridan Whiteside in The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942), but because of the effects of his alcoholism he couldn't remember his lines and was fired.
6Blue-eyed, brown-haired.
7In 1920 lived at 134 W. 4th Street in Manhattan.
8After Barrymore's death, his friends - including Errol Flynn and Raoul Walsh - gathered at a bar to commiserate on John's passing. Walsh, claiming he was too upset, pretended to go home. Instead, he and two friends went to the funeral home and bribed the caretaker to lend them Barrymore's body. Transporting it to Flynn's house, it was propped up in Errol's favorite living room chair. Flynn arrived and described his reaction in his autobiography: "As I opened the door I pressed the button. The lights went on and - I stared into the face of Barrymore... They hadn't embalmed him yet. I let out a delirious scream... I went back in, still shaking. I retired to my room upstairs shaken and sober. My heart pounded. I couldn't sleep the rest of the night."
9Barrymore left specific instructions that he be cremated and his ashes be buried next to his parents in the family cemetery in Philadelphia. However, as his brother Lionel Barrymore and sister Ethel Barrymore were Catholic and cremation had not was not sanctioned by the Church, the executors (Lionel and Mervyn LeRoy) had Barrymore's remains entombed at Calvary Cemetery in Los Angeles. In 1980, John Drew Barrymore decided to have his dad cremated, and recruited his son John Blyth Barrymore to help. They removed the casket from its crypt, drove it to the Odd Fellows Cemetery, and made the preparations. John Jr. insisted on having a look inside before they left. After viewing the body, he came out white as a sheet, got in the car and said to his son, "Thank God I'm drunk, I'll never remember it.".
10He was, after John Gielgud, the most acclaimed Hamlet of the 20th century (his realization of the role in London influenced Laurence Olivier's own later interpretation of Hamlet, in 1937 on stage and in 1948 on film. Ironically, Ethel Barrymore denounced Olivier's film Hamlet, which brought him an Academy Award as Best Actor). From 1922, when he staged his first Hamlet, until 1975, when Sam Waterston essayed the role, Barrymore and Walter Hampden were the only American actors to play Hamlet on Broadway. Barrymore put on a second production in 1923, while Hampden played the role three times on the Great White Way, in 1918, in 1925 (with Ethel Barrymore as his Ophelia), and in 1929. Stephen Lang, who played the great Dane on the Great White Way in 1992, is the only other American in more than three-quarters of a century to star in "Hamlet" on Broadway. In that time Hamlet was played mostly by British performers, particularly Maurice Evans, an English immigrant who became an American citizen and who was the only other actor other than Hampden since World War I to play Hamlet three times on the Broadway stage. The other British subjects to play the role on Broadway in that period other than Gielgud were Leslie Howard, Sir Donald Wolfit, future Canadian Stratford Festival founder John Neville, Neville's Old Vic co-star and rival Richard Burton, Nicol Williamson (the definitive portrayal of the late 1960s) and Ralph Fiennes, who won a Tony in the role. French actor Jean-Louis Barrault followed in his countrywoman Sarah Bernhardt's footsteps and played Hamlet on Broadway (he in 1952, she in 1900). Aside from Barrymore's acclaimed performance, the greatest Hamlet assayed by an American actor was that of Edwin Booth, who played the role three times on Broadway in the 19th century.
11He was the greatest Hamlet and Richard III of his time, and he is still considered the greatest American actor to play those roles.
12Had a daughter, Dolores Ethel Blyth Barrymore (b. 8 April 1930) with wife Dolores Costello.
13His 1922 "Hamlet" was the longest-running Broadway production of the play with 101 performances until John Gielgud played the part for 132 performances in 1936.
14One night, while drunk, he accidentally went into a women's restroom, instead of a men's room, and proceeded to relieve his bladder in a potted plant. A woman standing nearby reminded him that the room was "for ladies exclusively." Turning around, his penis still exposed, Barrymore responded, "So, madam, is this. But every now and again, I'm compelled to run a little water through it." This incident later made its way, verbatim, into My Favorite Year (1982), where the Barrymore- inspired character of Alan Swann, played by Peter O'Toole, is involved in a similar situation.
15The only one of the three Barrymore siblings (John, Ethel Barrymore and Lionel Barrymore) to never win or even be nominated for an Academy Award; he is now considered the finest actor of the three.
16His sharp wit never left him, even when he was dying. A priest came to administer the last rites, accompanied by an exceedingly homely nurse. When the priest asked him if he had anything to confess, Barrymore replied, "Yes, Father. I am guilty, at this moment, of having carnal thoughts." "About whom?," replied the shocked priest. "About HER!," he replied, indicating the nurse.
17Was a good friend of Errol Flynn, who subsequently played Barrymore in Too Much, Too Soon (1958), a film about Barrymore's daughter Diana Barrymore.
18Courted showgirl Evelyn Nesbit as her involvement with married architect Stanford White was waning. When she became pregnant Barrymore proposed marriage, but White intervened and arranged for the still-teenaged Miss Nesbit to undergo an operation for "appendicitis." White was later murdered by Nesbit's vengeful husband, Pittsburgh millionaire Harry Thaw.
19George Bernard Shaw considered his very highly regarded "Hamlet" one of the worst performances of the role he had ever seen, and in a blistering letter accused him of indulging his own ego at the expense of William Shakespeare.
20Rebaptized as a Roman Catholic after his mother's secret conversion, of the Barrymore siblings only Ethel Barrymore remained a devout Catholic.
21His birth certificate lists 14 February as birth date, which conflicts with the family Bible which says 15 February. His World War I draft record and Social Security records state February 15.
22The three Barrymore siblings appeared in only one film together: Rasputin and the Empress (1932). Lionel and John appeared without Ethel in Arsène Lupin (1932), Night Flight (1933), Dinner at Eight (1933), and Grand Hotel (1932).
23Son of Maurice Barrymore and Georgiana Barrymore; grandson of Louisa Drew and actor John Drew (1827-1862); nephew of Sidney Drew; cousin of S. Rankin Drew; uncle of Samuel Colt, Ethel Colt, and John Drew Colt.
24Grandfather of Drew Barrymore
25Father of John Drew Barrymore and actress Diana Barrymore.


Actor

Actor

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Playmates1941John Barrymore
World Premiere1941Duncan DeGrasse
The Invisible Woman1940Professor Gibbs
The Great Profile1940Evans Garrick
Midnight1939Georges Flammarion
The Great Man Votes1939Vance
Hold That Co-ed1938Governor
Spawn of the North1938Windy Turlon
Marie Antoinette1938King Louis XV
Romance in the Dark1938Zoltan Jason
Bulldog Drummond's Peril1938Colonel Nielson
True Confession1937Charley Jasper
Bulldog Drummond's Revenge1937Colonel Nielson
Night Club Scandal1937Dr. Ernest Tindal
Bulldog Drummond Comes Back1937Colonel Neilson
Maytime1937Nicolai Nazaroff
Romeo and Juliet1936Mercutio - Kinsman to the Prince and Friend to Romeo
Twentieth Century1934Oscar Jaffe
Long Lost Father1934Carl Bellairs
Hamlet, Act I: Scenes IV and V1933ShortHamlet
Counsellor-at-Law1933George Simon
Night Flight1933Riviere
Dinner at Eight1933Larry Renault
Reunion in Vienna1933Archduke Rudolf von Habsburg
Topaze1933/IProfessor Auguste A. Topaze
Rasputin and the Empress1932Prince Chegodieff
A Bill of Divorcement1932Hilary
State's Attorney1932Tom Cardigan
Grand Hotel1932/IBaron Felix von Geigern
Arsène Lupin1932Duke of Charmerace
The Mad Genius1931Vladimar Ivan Tsarakov
Svengali1931Svengali
Moby Dick1930Ahab
The Man from Blankley's1930Lord Strathpeffer
General Crack1929Duke of Kurland / Prince Christian
The Show of Shows1929Richard III in 'Henry VI Part III'
Eternal Love1929Marcus Paltran
Tempest1928Sgt. Ivan Markov
The Beloved Rogue1927François Villon
When a Man Loves1927Chevalier Fabien des Grieux
Don Juan1926Don Jose de Marana / Don Juan de Marana
The Sea Beast1926Captain Ahab Ceeley
Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ1925Chariot Race Spectator (uncredited)
Beau Brummel1924George Bryon 'Beau' Brummel
Sherlock Holmes1922Sherlock Holmes
The Lotus Eater1921Jacques Leroi
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde1920/IDr. Henry Jekyll Mr. Edward Hyde
The Test of Honor1919Martin Wingrave
Here Comes the Bride1919Frederick Tile
On the Quiet1918Robert Ridgeway
Raffles, the Amateur Cracksman1917A.J. Raffles
National Red Cross Pageant1917The Tyrant - Russian episode
The Red Widow1916ShortCicero Hannibal Butts
The Lost Bridegroom1916Bertie Joyce
Nearly a King1916Jack Merriwell, Prince of Bulwana
The Incorrigible Dukane1915ShortJames Dukane
The Dictator1915Brooke Travers
Are You a Mason?1915Frank Perry
The Man from Mexico1914Fitzhugh
An American Citizen1914Beresford Kruger
One on Romance1913ShortJack Wilson (as Jack Barrymore)
A Prize Package1912ShortSi Hawkins (as Jack Barrymore)
Just Pretending1912ShortThe Policeman (as Jack Barrymore)
The Widow Casey's Return1912ShortThe Rejected Suitor (as Jack Barrymore)
The Dream of a Moving Picture Director1912ShortThe Movie Villain (as Jack Barrymore)

Soundtrack

Soundtrack

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Playmates1941performer: "Baa! Baa! Black Sheep"
The Great Profile1940performer: "The Stars and Stripes Forever" 1896, "Yo Ho Ho and a Bottle of Rum" 1881 - uncredited
A Bill of Divorcement1932performer: "Unfinished Sonata" - uncredited
State's Attorney1932performer: "The Wedding March" - uncredited

Writer

Writer

TitleYearStatusCharacter
The Beloved Rogue1927uncredited

Thanks

Thanks

TitleYearStatusCharacter
The New Bike2009Short acknowledgment

Self

Self

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Unusual Occupations1941/IDocumentary shortHimself (uncredited)
The Green Goddess1939ShortHimself (rumored)
Hollywood Goes to Town1938Short documentaryHimself
For Auld Lang Syne1938Documentary shortHimself - Arriving Celebrity (uncredited)
The Candid Camera Story (Very Candid) of the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures 1937 Convention1937Documentary shortHimself (uncredited)
Movie Maniacs1936ShortHimself, photograph (uncredited)
The Circus: Premiere1928Documentary shortHimself
Life in Hollywood No. 41927Documentary shortHimself
Vagabonding on the Pacific1926ShortHimself

Archive Footage

Archive Footage

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: The Game - The Movie2015ShortDr. Jekyll Mr. Hyde (uncredited)
Coming Attractions: The History of the Movie Trailer2009DocumentaryHimself
American Masters2008TV Series documentaryDon Jose de Marana / Don Juan de Marana
The Dawn of Sound: How Movies Learned to Talk2007Video documentaryDon Juan de Marana
Cineastas contra magnates2005DocumentarySvengali (in "Svengali") (uncredited)
Garbo2005DocumentaryBaron Felix von Geigern
Checking Out: Grand Hotel2004Video documentary shortHimself / Various roles
Complicated Women2003TV Movie documentaryHimself
Biography2001-2002TV Series documentaryHimself / Numerous screen roles
Shakespeare's Women & Claire Bloom1999TV Movie documentaryHamlet
Film Breaks1999TV Series documentaryDr. Henry Jekyll Mr. Edward Hyde
Famous Families1998TV Series documentaryHimself
Universal Horror1998TV Movie documentary
Judy Garland's Hollywood1997Video documentary
The Casting Couch1995Video documentary
Empire of the Air: The Men Who Made Radio1991DocumentaryHamlet (uncredited)
Cinema Paradiso1988The Baron (uncredited)
Going Hollywood: The '30s1984Documentary
Historia del cine: Epoca muda1983Video documentaryVarious roles
In Search of...1978-1980TV Series documentaryDr. Henry Jekyll / Mr. Edward Hyde / Svengali
Hollywood1980TV Mini-Series documentaryActor 'The Beloved Rogue'
The Horror Show1979TV Movie documentary
That's Entertainment, Part II1976DocumentaryClip from 'Grand Hotel'
It's Showtime1976DocumentaryHimself (uncredited)
Hollywood: The Dream Factory1972TV Movie documentary
Hamlet Revisited: Approaches to Hamlet1970TV Movie documentaryHamlet
Hollywood: The Selznick Years1969TV Movie documentaryActor 'Bill of Divorcement' (uncredited)
Film Review1968TV Mini-SeriesHenry Jekyll / Edward Hyde
The Invisible Woman1966ShortProf. Gibbs
Hollywood My Home Town1965DocumentaryHimself
Inside Daisy Clover1965Himself (uncredited)
Hollywood and the Stars1964TV SeriesDr. Jekyll Mr. Hyde
Fractured Flickers1963TV SeriesAlbert K. Seltzer
The DuPont Show of the Week1962TV SeriesHimself
Hollywood: The Golden Years1961TV Movie documentaryActor 'Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde' (uncredited)
The Legend of Rudolph Valentino1961Video documentaryHimself
MGM Parade1956TV SeriesThe Baron Felix von Gaigern in 'Grand Hotel'
Some of the Greatest1955ShortDon Juan
When the Talkies Were Young1955ShortMaestro Svengali (uncredited)
Yesterday and Today1953
The Golden Twenties1950DocumentaryHimself
Let's Go to the Movies1949Documentary shortHimself - edited from 'Show of Shows' (uncredited)
Okay for Sound1946Documentary shortDon Juan
Screen Snapshots Series 25, No. 1: 25th Anniversary1945Documentary shortHimself
Some of the Best1943DocumentaryThe Baron in Grand Hotel / Larry Renault in Dinner at Eight (uncredited)
The Voice That Thrilled the World1943ShortHimself (segments "Don Juan" & "Richard III") (uncredited)
Land of Liberty1939

Won awards

Won awards

YearAwardCeremonyNominationMovieAward shared with
2016OFTA Film Hall of FameOnline Film & Television AssociationActing
1960Star on the Walk of FameWalk of FameMotion PictureOn 8 February 1960. At 6667 Hollywood Blvd.

TitleSalary
Playmates (1941)$5,000 /week
Rasputin and the Empress (1932)$150,000
Grand Hotel (1932)$150,000
Arsène Lupin (1932)$150,000
Svengali (1931)$150,000 plus 10% of the gross
Moby Dick (1930)$30,000 /week
General Crack (1929)$30,000 /week
Eternal Love (1929)$150,000
Tempest (1928)$100,000
The Beloved Rogue (1927)$100,000
When a Man Loves (1927)$75,000
Don Juan (1926)$75,000
The Sea Beast (1926)$75,000

#Quote
1[on comparing his role in Sherlock Holmes (1922) to his role in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920)] Holmes is a purely static person: by that I mean a character with practically no emotions. It is naturally more difficult to play a man with no emotions than to play a man with emotions, and one must continually vary the character to make it interesting.
2[Barrymore on his friend, playwright Edward Sheldon] I'm not sure that he didn't make me a serious actor.
3Happiness often sneaks through a door you didn't know you left open.
4When archaeologists discover the missing arms of the Venus de Milo they will find she was wearing boxing gloves.
5Paper napkins never return from the laundry. Nor love from a trip to the law courts.
6The way to fight a woman is with your hat. Grab it and run.
7[After watching Marlene Dietrich perform] She handles her body like Stradivarius used to handle his violins. And no matter what kind of finish it happens to be wearing at the time, it's still a masterpiece.
8[To director Tay Garnett] If you run, they bite you on the ass, Charlie, and if you stand still, they hose you.
9[on viewing rushes] Oh, I LOVE to see the stuff! If I can do it at the end of the day. First thing in the morning it looks like a bad dream.
10My head is buried in the sands of tomorrow, while my tail feathers are singed by the hot sun of today.
11You can't drown yourself in drink. I've tried; you float.
12The good die young, because they see it's no use living if you have got to be good.
13A man is not old until regrets take the place of dreams.
14[on refusing to learn his lines when working in Hollywood]: My memory is full of beauty: Hamlet's soliloquies, the Queen Mab speech, King Magnus' monologue from The AppleCart, most of the Sonnets. Do you expect me to clutter up all that with this horseshit?
15[After throwing a fish at loudly coughing audience members]: Chew on that, you walruses, while the rest of us get on with the libretto!
16It has been said that every man must properly pay the fiddler. Alas, in my case, it happened that an entire symphony orchestra had to be subsidized.
17I like to be introduced as America's foremost actor. It saves the necessity of further effort.
18America is the country where you buy a lifetime supply of aspirin for one dollar, and use it up in two weeks.
19[last words] Die? I should say not, dear fellow. No Barrymore would allow such a conventional thing to happen to him.
20[his feelings about never having been nominated for an Oscar] I think they were afraid I'd show up at the banquet drunk, embarrassing both myself and them. But I wouldn't have, you know.
21If you stay in front of the movie camera long enough, it will show you not only what you had for breakfast but who your ancestors were.
22There are lots of methods. Mine involves a lot of talent, a glass and some cracked ice.


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