It is John Barrymore’s 141st birthday today or tomorrow. I mark the occasion and his gifts by naming him an Indigenous Man Of The Anglosphere. He was called the “greatest living American tragedian” giving acclaimed performances as Hamlet and Richard The Third.
Barrymore with Carol Lombard in “Twentieth Century”
His sister Ethel and brother Lionel were also actors.
To begin with, on the stage, his brother Lionel was more likely to be cast as a leading man. John would get the comedy roles. An American cinephile friend of mine writes: “By the time they all went into the movies ( silents ), John became the one to have the leading man roles and was known as “THE GREAT PROFILE”.
He loved living free.
Actors to portray Barrymore include W.C. Fields, Lawrence Olivier, Errol Flynn and Jack Cassidy.
Barrymore had alcohol problems at 14 years of age and was bankrupt in later life. He said, “Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn’t know you left open.”
It wasnt always the life of a an unattached libertine. He married Dolores Costello, pictured below.
John Barrymore described Hamlet as a “normal, healthy, lusty young fellow . . … he was a great fencer, an athlete, a man who led an active, healthy life.” In the above photo Barrymore is being a normal young man with Dolores Costello in “The Sea Beast”. Later on, she became his third wife.
God Bless Freedom
But for most of us, Family Life Comes First.
Geoff Fox, 14th February, 2023, Down Under