John Barrymore

Born Feb 15, 1882

John Sidney Blyth, better known as John Barrymore, was an American actor of stage and screen. He first gained fame as a handsome stage actor in light comedy, then high drama and culminating in groundbreaking portrayals in Shakespearean plays Hamlet and Richard III. His success continued with motion pictures in various genres in both the silent and sound eras. Barrymore's personal life has been the subject of much writing before and since his death in 1942.… Read More

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1882 Birth Barrymore was born John Sidney Blyth in Philadelphia, and was known by family and friends as "Jack". Although the Barrymore family bible puts his date of birth as February 15, 1882, his birth certificate shows February 14. … Read More
1891 9 Years Old …  He was expelled from the school in 1891 and was sent to Seton Hall Preparatory School in New Jersey, where Lionel was already studying. … Read More
1892 10 Years Old In 1892, his grandmother Louisa Drew's business began to suffer, and she lost control of her theater, causing disruption in the family. … Read More


1895 - 1897 2 More Events
1898 16 Years Old Barrymore traveled with his father to England in 1898, where he joined King's College School, Wimbledon. … Read More
Barrymore returned to New York in the summer of 1900, and by November he found work as an illustrator on The New York Evening Journal, at a salary of $50 a week.
1901 19 Years Old An incident in 1901 had a major impact on Barrymore. … Read More


1902 - 1905 3 More Events
1907 25 Years Old 1 More Event
After a tour of the US and Australia with Collier in On the Quiet and The Dictator, Barrymore joined his sister in the 1907 comedy His Excellency the Governor at the Empire Theatre. … Read More
1909 27 Years Old He briefly appeared in The Candy Shop in mid-1909, before he played the lead role in Winchell Smith's play The Fortune Hunter at the Gaiety Theatre in September the same year. … Read More
1910 28 Years Old In mid-1910 Barrymore met socialite Katherine Corri Harris, and the couple married in September that year. … Read More
1911 29 Years Old Barrymore's next two plays – Uncle Sam and Princess Zim-Zim, both from 1911 – were critically and commercially weak, but the second work introduced him to playwright Edward Sheldon, who would "reshape... … Read More


In January 1912, Barrymore appeared together with his sister in A Slice of Life at the Empire Theatre on Broadway, which ran for 48 performances. … Read More
1913 - 1916 6 More Events
1917 35 Years Old 1 More Event
By the time the divorce was finalized in December 1917, he had taken the lead role in the film Raffles, the Amateur Cracksman. … Read More
1918 - 1919 2 More Events
1920 38 Years Old 1 More Event
…  After the debut in March 1920, the critics were effusive in their praise. … Read More


1922 - 1925 4 More Events
1927 45 Years Old 1 More Event
In 1927, Barrymore planned to revive Hamlet at the Hollywood Bowl, but in August he canceled the production, without explanation, and began filming the third of the UA pictures, Eternal Love, for which he was paid $150,000.
1928 46 Years Old In February 1928, Barrymore obtained a quiet divorce from Oelrichs; she eagerly agreed to the separation, as she was in a relationship with a lawyer, Harrison Tweed, whom she later married.
1930 48 Years Old 1 More Event
Barrymore and Costello married in November that year; their daughter, Dolores, was born in April 1930 and a son, John Drew Barrymore, followed in June 1932. … Read More
1931 49 Years Old Later in 1931, he played a crippled puppeteer, who tries to fulfill his frustrated ambitions by manipulating the life of a young male ballet dancer and the dancer's lover (also Marsh) in The Mad Genius; the film was a commercial failure. … Read More


1932 50 Years Old 1 More Event
The same year, Barrymore starred as jewel thief Baron Felix von Geigern together with Greta Garbo in the 1932 film Grand Hotel, in which Lionel also appeared. … Read More
1933 51 Years Old 1 More Event
The year 1933 was a busy one for Barrymore, and his decline began to be evident. … Read More
1934 52 Years Old 1 More Event
Barrymore starred in two films released in 1934, the drama Long Lost Father and the screwball comedy Twentieth Century. … Read More
1935 53 Years Old He returned to the US in early 1935 and settled in New York, leaving his wife in Los Angeles. … Read More
1936 54 Years Old 1 More Event
Barrymore's alcohol dependence meant most studios were unwilling to employ him, but MGM risked casting him in the role of Mercutio in their 1936 film Romeo and Juliet. … Read More
1937 55 Years Old 1 More Event
On January 15, 1937, he was served with divorce papers, and a month later he filed for bankruptcy protection, with debts of $160,000. … Read More
When he filmed his last serious role, Gregory Vance in the 1939 film The Great Man Votes, the director, Garson Kanin, ensured that the cast and crew addressed him as "Mr. Barrymore" as a mark of respect.
They attempted a reconciliation when the production reached New York, but the couple divorced in late 1940.


1942 60 Years Old 1 More Event
On May 19, 1942, while recording a line from Romeo and Juliet for the show, Barrymore collapsed. … Read More
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