John Barrymore

02/15/1882 - 05/29/1942

The youngest of the Barrymore siblings, John Barrymore was born in 1882 in Philadelphia. Even though Barrymore was born into the Drew-Barrymores theatrical family, John chose to pursue a career as an artist instead of following his siblings Lionel and Ethel into the acting business. Unfortunately for the youngest Barrymore, his talent did not lie with art and he found himself struggling financially to the point that he had to reach out to his sister, Ethel, for assistance. Finally, in 1903, he left art behind him and acted in his first production in the play "Magda" in Chicago. Barrymore came to Seattle in 1906 as part of a troupe supporting comedic actor, William Collier. Collier and Barrymore performed in "The Dictator" at the Grand Opera House from January 9-21. Barrymore continued to act in the same troupe and returned to Seattle in 1906 to act with Collier in "On the Quiet" from September 9-12. Barrymore had a very successful acting career and would soon graduate from minor roles in road shows to leading roles on Broadway. The youngest Barrymore is most well known for his Shakespearean acting.

He moved into film in the silent era, but found more success in the late 1920s when he was cast in talking films. Even with his film success, Barrymore returned to the stage in 1939 and put on a 117 performance tour of "My Dear Children." John Barrymore died in 1942 from health complications related to excessive alcohol consumption.

Gender: 
Male
Cultural Identity: 
Notable Roles: 
Hamlet in "Hamlet"
Richard III in "Richard III"
Sources: 
"JOHN BARRYMORE DIES IN HOLLYWOOD." New York Times (1923-Current file): 1. May 30 1942. ProQuest. Web. 4 Mar. 2015 Alpert, Hollis. The Barrymores, New York: Dial Press, 1964. Peters, Margot. The House of Barrymore. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1990.