Ethel Barrymore was an American stage and film actress from the illustrious Barrymore acting family. She was born Ethel Mae Blythe on August 15, 1879, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. Throughout her career, she became one of the most acclaimed and respected actresses of her time, known for her exceptional talent and powerful performances. Here's a biography of Ethel Barrymore:
Early Life and Acting Family:
Ethel Barrymore was the second child of Maurice Barrymore and Georgiana Drew, both of whom were successful stage actors. Her siblings, Lionel Barrymore and John Barrymore, also became celebrated actors, making the Barrymore family one of the most renowned acting dynasties in American theater.
Ethel Barrymore began her acting career at a young age, making her stage debut in 1894 as a supporting player in "The Imprudent Young Couple." She quickly established herself as a talented actress and gained recognition for her performances in various stage productions.
Success on Broadway:
In 1901, Ethel Barrymore achieved significant success on Broadway with her performance in "Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines." Her career continued to flourish with acclaimed roles in plays like "The School for Scandal," "Alice-Sit-by-the-Fire," and "The Corn is Green."
In the 1910s, Ethel Barrymore transitioned to the emerging medium of silent films. She appeared in several movies, including "The Nightingale" (1914) and "None But the Lonely Heart" (1944), for which she earned an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
"The Royal Family":
One of Ethel Barrymore's most memorable stage performances was in "The Royal Family" (1927), a play inspired by the real-life Barrymore family. She portrayed the character inspired by her own mother, Georgiana Drew, in a role that received critical acclaim.
Ethel Barrymore married Russell Griswold Colt, an American diplomat, in 1909. They had three children together: Samuel Colt, Ethel Barrymore Colt, and John Drew Colt.
Ethel Barrymore's legacy as a theater actress remains unmatched, and she is often regarded as one of the greatest actresses of the 20th century. Her contributions to American theater have earned her a place of honor in the history of stage acting.
Throughout her later years, Ethel Barrymore continued to act on stage, appearing in notable productions like "The Corn is Green" and "An International Incident." She remained dedicated to her craft until her health began to decline.
Ethel Barrymore passed away on June 18, 1959, at the age of 79, leaving behind a lasting legacy of exceptional performances and a celebrated career that has inspired generations of actors.
1. Tony Award Win: Ethel Barrymore won a Tony Award in 1955 for her performance in the play "The School for Scandal," receiving the honor for Best Actress in a Drama.
2. First American Actress in a British Play: Ethel Barrymore became the first American actress to appear in a British play in London's West End. She performed in the play "Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines" in 1902.
3. Family Legacy: Ethel Barrymore came from a prominent acting family known as the Barrymore acting dynasty. Her brothers, Lionel Barrymore and John Barrymore, were also successful actors, making the Barrymore family a renowned theatrical family in the United States.
4. Talented Lineage: Ethel Barrymore's great-niece is actress Drew Barrymore, making her part of the fourth generation of the Barrymore acting dynasty.
5. Film Acting: While she was primarily known for her stage work, Ethel Barrymore also had a successful film career. She appeared in several silent and sound films and earned an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in "None But the Lonely Heart" (1944).
6. Patroness of the Arts: Ethel Barrymore was a patroness of the arts and an advocate for cultural institutions like the New York Public Library and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
7. Acting Debut: Ethel Barrymore made her stage debut at the age of 14 in 1894, joining the theatrical troupe managed by her grandmother, Louisa Lane Drew.
8. Buried at Sea: Per her wishes, Ethel Barrymore's ashes were buried at sea following her death in 1959.
9. "Rasputin and the Empress": Ethel Barrymore and her brothers Lionel and John starred together in the 1932 film "Rasputin and the Empress." It was the only time all three siblings appeared in a movie together.
10. Preservation of Memories: Ethel Barrymore's personal papers, including letters, photographs, and scripts, are preserved at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.
11. Nickname: Ethel Barrymore was often affectionately referred to as the "First Lady of the American Theater" due to her status as one of the leading actresses of her time.
12. "Portrait of Jennie": Ethel Barrymore had an uncredited cameo appearance in the film "Portrait of Jennie" (1948), directed by William Dieterle and starring Jennifer Jones and Joseph Cotten.
Ethel Barrymore's remarkable contributions to the theater and film industry, as well as her influential acting legacy, have cemented her status as one of the most esteemed and celebrated actresses in the history of American performing arts.