Posted on January 14, 2015
John Barrymore was one of the most talked about and influential actors of his day. He was a tabloid subject and quite eccentric but his performances were stellar. Here’s our John Barrymore timeline.
Feb. 15, 1882
John Sidney Blythe is born in Philadelphia to Maurice Barrymore and comedian Georgiana Drew. His older siblings are actors Lionel Barrymore and Ethel Barrymore.
Appears in the Broadway play, The Fortune Hunter. The role launches his Broadway career.
Sept. 1, 1910
Marries actress Katherine Corri Harris.
Barrymore takes on the role of Falder in Galsworthy’s Justice. He became a huge stage star after this.
He and Katherine divorce.
March 6, 1920
Makes his Shakespearean debut as Richard III at the Plymouth Theatre in New York.
Aug. 5, 1920
Barrymore marries Blanche Marie Louise Oelrichs, an actress and playwright who writes under the pseudonym “Michael Strange.”
March 2, 1921
Blanche gives birth to Diana Barrymore (born Diana Blanche Barrymore Blythe). Diane will eventually die at the age of 38 after taking a lethal combination of alcohol and sleeping pills.
Nov. 16, 1922
Hamlet debuts at the Sam H. Harris Theatre in New York, with Barrymore in the title role. Critics proclaimed him to be one of the best Hamlets ever seen on the New York stage.
He takes Hamlet to London, where he also acts as producer and director. The performance gets rave reviews.
Returns to New York and begins a film career.
He and Blanche divorce.
Meets actress and model Dolores Costello (nicknamed “The Goddess of the Silent Screen”) while filming Sea Beast.
Nov. 24, 1928
Marries Dolores Costello.
Dolores gives birth to Dolores Ethel Mae Barrymore (DeDe Barrymore).
Dolores gives birth to John Blythe Barrymore, Jr. (who later changes his name to John Drew Barrymore). John is the father of Drew Barrymore.
Stars in the film Grand Hotel with Greta Garbo and brother Lionel Barrymore.
Stars in A Bill of Divorcement with Katharine Hepburn, who makes her screen debut in the film.
Stars in Rasputin and the Empress with brother Lionel Barrymore and sister Ethel Barrymore.
He and Dolores divorce.
Nov. 9, 1936
Marries his fourth wife, 19 year old actress Elaine Barrie.
He and Elaine divorce.
May 19, 1942
Barrymore collapses during a rehearsal of the Rudy Vallee radio show. He is rushed to the hospital and diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver, bronchial pneumonia, hemmorhaging ulcers, and hardening of the arteries.
May 29, 1942
Barrymore dies in his sleep at Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital. His dying words allegedly are: “Die? I should say not, dear fellow. No Barrymore would allow such a conventional thing to happen to him.”