Ethel Barrymore

Ethel Barrymore

Infobox actor
name = Ethel Barrymore

imagesize = 200px
caption = Ethel Barrymore, 1896,
photograph by Burr McIntosh, N.Y.
birthname = Ethel Mae Blythe
birthdate = birth date|1879|8|15|mf=y
birthplace = Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
deathdate = Death date and age|1959|6|18|1879|7|15
deathplace = Los Angeles, California, U.S.
yearsactive = 1896–1957
academyawards = Best Supporting Actress
1944 "None But the Lonely Heart"
spouse = Russel Griswold Colt (1909-1923)
children = Samuel Colt (1909-1986)
Ethel Colt (1912-1977)
John Drew Colt (1913-1975)
parents = Maurice Barrymore (1849-1905)
Georgiana Drew (1856-1893)

Ethel Barrymore (August 15, 1879June 18, 1959) was an Academy Award-winning American actress and a member of the famous Barrymore family.

Early life

Ethel Barrymore was born Ethel Mae Blythe in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the second child of the actors Maurice Barrymore and Georgiana Drew. She spent her childhood in Philadelphia, and attended Roman Catholic schools there.

She was the sister of actors John Barrymore and Lionel Barrymore, the aunt of actor John Drew Barrymore, and the great-aunt of actress Drew Barrymore. She was also the niece of Broadway matinée idol John Drew Jr and early Vitagraph movie star Sidney Drew.


Ethel Barrymore was a highly regarded stage actress in New York City and a major Broadway performer. Many today consider her to be the greatest actress of her generation.

Her first appearance in Broadway was in 1895, in a play called "The Imprudent Young Couple" which starred her uncle John Drew Jr and Maude Adams. She appeared with Drew and Adams again in 1896 in "Rosemary". She portrayed Nora in "A Doll's House" by Ibsen (1905), and Juliet in "Romeo and Juliet" by Shakespeare (1922).She was also a strong supporter of the Actors' Equity Association and had a high-profile role in the 1919 strike. In 1926, she scored one of her greatest successes as the sophisticated spouse of a philandering husband in W. Somerset Maugham's comedy, "The Constant Wife". In July 1934 she starred in the play "Laura Garnett", by Leslie and Sewell Stokes, at Dobbs Ferry, New York State.

Barrymore was a baseball and boxing fan. Her admiration for boxing ended when she witnessed as a spectator the brutality of the July 4, 1919 Dempsey/Willard fight in which Dempsey broke Willard's jaw and knocked out several of his teeth. Ethel vowed never to attend another boxing match.

She made her first motion picture in 1914 and in the 1940s, she moved to Hollywood, California and started working in motion pictures. The only two films that featured all three siblings, Ethel, John and Lionel Barrymore, were "National Red Cross Pageant" (1917) and "Rasputin and the Empress" (1932).

She won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the 1944 film "None but the Lonely Heart" opposite Cary Grant, but made plain that she was not overly impressed by it. On March 22 2007, her Oscar was offered for sale on eBay.

She made such other classic films as "The Spiral Staircase" (1946) directed by Robert Siodmak, "The Paradine Case" (1947) directed by Alfred Hitchcock, "Portrait of Jennie" (1948), "Pinky" (1949), and "Kind Lady" (1951). Her last film appearance was in "Johnny Trouble" (1957). She also made a number of television appearances in the 1950s.

Private life

Winston Churchill proposed to her around 1900, but she turned him down. Ethel married Russell Griswold Colt (1883–1959) on March 14 1909. The couple had been introduced by her brother "John". The couple had three children: actress/singer Ethel Barrymore Colt (1912–1977), who appeared on Broadway in Stephen Sondheim's "Follies"; Samuel Colt (1909-1986); and John Drew Colt (1913–1975). They divorced in 1923. A devout Roman Catholic, she never remarried though she had relationships with other men most notably actors Henry Daniell and Louis Calhern.


Ethel Barrymore died of cardiovascular disease in 1959, at her home in Hollywood, California, after having lived for many years with a heart condition. She was two months shy of her 80th birthday. She is interred in the Calvary Cemetery, East Los Angeles. The Ethel Barrymore Theatre in New York City is named after her.

###@@@KEY@@@###succession box
title=Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
for "None but the Lonely Heart"
before=Katina Paxinou
for "For Whom the Bell Tolls"
after=Anne Revere
for "National Velvet"

External links

*amg name|2:4290
* [ Ethel Barrymore] photo gallery NYP Library

NAME= Barrymore, Ethel
DATE OF BIRTH= August 15, 1879
PLACE OF BIRTH= Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
DATE OF DEATH= June 18, 1959
PLACE OF DEATH= Los Angeles, California, U.S.

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