Sunday, June 18, 2006

The Royal Family

The three very attractive people pictured above are, of course, the Barrymores; the “Royal Family of Broadway.” Through their mother, Georgy Drew, they were born into a long theatrical tradition in America, and before that, in England. Their Grandmother, Mrs. John Drew, ran the Arch St. Theatre in Philadelphia in the late 19th century. These three children grew up in Philadelphia, the grandchildren and children of famous forbears. The oldest, Ethel, grasped the family tradition and ran. By 1901, she was the toast of Broadway in one of her first shows: “Captain Jinx of the Horse Marines.” Lionel and John both came to the Theatre later. Unlike their older sister, neither of them really wanted to be an actor. John wanted to be an artist. Lionel would have preferred either art or music as a career. But, they both succumbed to the family trade. Lionel first, then the youngest, John. Lionel was the first of all three to go into films however. He was a true pioneer, making his first movies in 1911. Throughout the twenties, both of the boys’ careers flourished in Hollywood. Lionel was terribly prolific as a character actor; and John’s handsome looks ensured him success as a leading man. Ethel continued to focus on the stage for her career. By this time, she was the uncontested Queen of Broadway. She made few appearances in film, and even fewer on radio. The three of them only made one film together: “Rasputin and the Empress.”


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