A stage and film actress, regarded as “The First Lady of the American Theatre”, whose career spanned six decades.
Born as Ethel Blythe in Philadelphia, to a family of actors. At age 5 she moved with her family for two years to London, England, which she claimed were the ‘happiest of her childhood’. After her mother died, Barrymore was forced to go to work instead of finishing high school, and also had to give up her dream of becoming a concert pianist.
Her first Broadway appearance was at age 18, playing alongside her uncle John Drew, Jr. Two years later she returned to London to play Miss Kittridge in ‘Gillette’s Secret Service’, there she got offered the role of Annette in ‘The Bells’, who launched her career as an actress.
When Barrymore came back to the states, she played Madame Trentoni in ‘Captain Jinks of the Horse Marine’, and that role was a major breakthrough and made her a star.
Afterward, she played in dozens Broadway plays, including ‘A Doll’s House’, ‘Trelawney of the Wells’, and ‘The School for Scandal’.
Barrymore was a supporter of the Actors’ Equity Union and had a significant role in the 1919 Equity Strike that shut down Broadway for a month.
Addition to theater, she appeared in vaudeville, radio, television, and motion pictures.
She died at the age of 80, at her Hollywood home.
“You grow up the day you have the first real laugh at yourself”
More Interesting Anecdotes:
- The aunt of actor John Drew Barrymore, and the grand-aunt of actress Drew Barrymore.
- She refused a marriage proposal from Winston Churchill.
- She was a baseball and boxing fan.