Ethel Barrymore Gallery
"All I care about is to be a good actress."
Ethel Barrymore 1902.
In front of us, standing easily under the studio window, Miss
Ethel Barrymore unconsciously makes a picture, until the photographers
says, "Kindly let your left hand fall over the right edge
of the third fold of your gown"--and before he can say "thank
you," she has become conscious of the pose and murmurs between
her teeth: "I am so hopeless in photographs."
But she isn't, not a bit of it; she doesn't know what hopelessness
even means, for she is the embodiment of that sweet assurance
one senses in the rigid strength of a fresh young rosebud, with
its crips youth just unfolding the hidden glories of its lovely
destiny. Pictorially, Miss Barrymore suggest this, and she speaks
with the authority of two generations of celebrities in her blood.
She had a wonderful grandmother, Mrs. John Drew--a brilliant
executive woman; she had a mother whom she considers the greatest
high-comedy actress of the American stage, Georgia Drew Barrymore;
and who has touched more hearts, withhis wonderful voice, and
made young blood thrill with manliness and high sentiment more
buoyantly in the theater than her father--he who will always
be a stage ideal Maurice Barrymore?
But, apart from these relationships, Miss Barrymore is a distinct
individuality in herself. "Yes, I'm twenty-three; and if
some sort of success had not come pretty soon, I don't know what
would have become of me!" she said, seriously. "It's
awful how soon we get old!...Well, it's all very nice to laugh
about it, but you can't play young girls' parts if you're not
young, you know." Rosalind, for instance, would not be interesting
if she were playing an old hag!" At the age of 23
Drew Barrymore produced her own movie. The acting ability in
the Barrymore family most definitely runs in the genes.
"The first chance I had for a part was with Sir Henry
Irving in 'Peter the Great," in London, but I wasn't good
in it!" What? " No, I wasn't; it was an adventuress
part, you know, and did not really suit me. You see, I was only
seventeen, and did not know much about that kind of thing..."
So you like London? "Very much indeed." She was asked
"Better than New York." "In some ways I do; it
seems as though you meet great people in London, men who are
doing things in national affairs, and so on...In New York the
great men don't seem to be about, they don't go out so much,
they are more difficult to meet."
You're fond of society?"
"I have a great many friends in society--but that doesn't
matter, I like them just as well...I used to be very fond of
going to balls,..When I was in my teens, you know I had more
time then. You see, I really haven't the time now!" Of course
not, you have worldly success to consider." Ethel responds
"Worldly success does not interest me."
You would like to play Rosalind?"
"Yes--and Lady Teazle, quite another vein of comedy.
I don't know that I aspire to Shakespeare, but I should like
to play modern parts. For instance, the new piece I am in 'A
There was a time, at the age of fourteen or thereabouts when
Miss Barrymore was intended by her parents for a musical career,
primarily because she was a talented pianist, and essentially
because they did not want her to go on the stage. In those days
she played classical music. "I don't play classical music
now; I did all that when I was fourteen..I'm fond of Russian
music, Hungarian dances, the wildness and melancholy of the Eastern
Somehow or other the word romantic drifted into our chat,
and Miss Barrymore confessed to close affiliation with everything
that had romance in it. "I've written a play, you know...a
very serious one-act thing." Written recently? "No,
that is why it is rather morbid, I suppose; I wrote it when I
was very young!"
"I've had women say to me, "Why, you are not a bit
like an actress! and believe that they were paying me a compliment."
What do you answer them? "I express my regrets. I am always
sorry when anyone tells me I am not an actress."
When Ethel was a child she had a French nurse and spoke French
as if it were her native tongue. Ethel said: "When we were
all children, we used to invent unknown languages of our own,
to converse in. Then I had a French nurse, and I studied languages
at the convent in Philadelphia."
You know my brother, is quite a busy cartoonist on one of
the evening newspapers.
Miss Ethel Barrymore is a wholesome American girl; independent
because of her inherent strength, intellectual in her interests,
refined in her tastes, and an arch-enemy of humbugs and shams.
It was quite natural that people should say to her she does not
look like an actress, because actresses of her quality are conservative,
and people rarely see them publicly off the stage.
She has the charm of naturalness, that is so unusal on the
modern stage, and while at first glance she is pretty, she becomes
positively handsome in the glow of her splendid breadth of vision,
which, of course, is the soul of wit. Her eight "long years"
on the stage have not left a false mark in her nature, and never
will, because, as she says, "It seems as though I have been
at it since the flood," and because the theatre is to her
as the garden is to the rosebud--love and life." W. de Wagstaffe.
Ethel Barrymore and her brother, John Barrymore
From a photograph taken in October 1906 on Catalina Island,
California. John is asking his sister if he may be her leading
man next season, to which Miss Ethel replies: "O Jack, don't
be silly, I've such a headache!" In twenty years John would
make motion picture history by acting in Don Juan first
film to contain sound.
|Ethel Barrymore sitting in chair had retired
temporarily from the state, having recently been operated for
appendicitis. Her health has been failing for some time, but
ishe completely recovered the following Fall. She is seen in
the picture as the mother in "Alice-Sit-By-the-Fire,"
the role she was playing when taken ill.
||Maude Adams and Ethel Barrymore in the 1890s.
Ethel and Maude would open with Ethel's father in 1897 on opening
night at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel. For six years Maude was the
leading lady of John Drew's, Ethel's father.