Diana Blanche Barrymore Blythe (March 3, 1921 – January 25, 1960),
known professionally as Diana Barrymore, was an American film and
1 Early life
3 Personal life and death
7 External links
Born Diana Blanche Barrymore Blythe in New York City, New York, Diana
Barrymore was the daughter of renowned actor
John Barrymore and his
second wife, poet Blanche Oelrichs. She was stepdaughter of Dolores
Costello, half-sister of actor John Drew Barrymore, and aunt of
actress Drew Barrymore. She had two older half brothers, Leonard Jr.
and Robin, from her mother's first marriage to Leonard Moorhead
Her parents' tumultuous marriage lasted only a few years and they
divorced when she was four. Educated in Paris,
France and at schools
in New York City, she had little contact with her estranged father, a
situation exacerbated by her mother's bitterness towards him. Her
parenting was left to boarding schools and nannies.
Diana Barrymore and Robert Keith in Romantic Mr. Dickens (1940),
Barrymore's Broadway debut
While in her teens, Barrymore decided to study acting and enrolled at
the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Because of the prominence of
the Barrymore name in the world of theatre, her move onto the stage
began with much publicity including a 1939 cover of Life. At age 19,
Barrymore made her Broadway debut and the following year made her
first appearance in motion pictures with a small role in a Warner
Bros. production. In 1942, she signed a contract with Universal
Studios who capitalized on her Barrymore name with a major promotion
campaign billing her as "1942's Most Sensational New Screen
Personality." However, alcohol and drug problems soon emerged and
negative publicity from major media sources dampened her prospects.
After less than three years in Hollywood, and six significant film
roles at Universal, Barrymore's personal problems ended her film
Diana Barrymore in 1941
Her father died in 1942 from cirrhosis of the liver after years of
alcoholism. Barrymore's life became a series of alcohol- and
drug-related disasters marked by bouts of severe depression that
resulted in several suicide attempts and extended sanitarium stays.
She squandered her movie earnings and her inheritance from her
father's estate, and when her mother died in 1950, Diana was left with
virtually nothing from a once-vast family fortune. In 1949, she was
offered her own television talk show, The
Diana Barrymore Show. The
show was all set to broadcast but Barrymore didn't show up and the
program was immediately canceled. Had she gone through with the show,
it would have been the first talk show in television history,
Joe Franklin by two years. In the early 1950s she and third
husband toured Australia and upon returning to the United States, she
expressed her dislike for the continent.
After three bad marriages to addicted and sometimes abusive men, in
1955 Barrymore had herself hospitalized for nearly a full year of
treatment. In 1957, she published her autobiography, Too Much, Too
Soon, with help and encouragement from ghostwriter Gerold Frank, which
included her portrait painted by Spurgeon Tucker. In July 1957, she
further promoted the book by appearing on Mike Wallace's TV show The
Mike Wallace Interview. The following year
Warner Bros. made a film
with the same title starring
Dorothy Malone as Barrymore and Errol
Flynn as her father.
Personal life and death
Barrymore was married three times. Her first was to actor Bramwell
Fletcher, who was 17 years her senior and had appeared with her father
in his 1931 classic Svengali. Then she married John Howard, a tennis
player. Her last marriage was to actor Robert Wilcox. The marriage to
Wilcox ended when he died of a heart attack while traveling by train
in June 1955, at the age of 45.
Barrymore died on January 25, 1960, and is interred in the Woodlawn
Cemetery in The Bronx, New York, next to her mother. Her death has
been attributed to a drug overdose, though her autopsy failed to find
a cause of death and found no indication of overdose.
Between Us Girls
The Adventures of Mark Twain
Unconfirmed bit part
Diana Barrymore Show (1949) (*cancelled as she didn't show up)
The Ed Sullivan Show
The Ed Sullivan Show (? 1950)
Mike Wallace Interview (1957)
New York Noir: Entertainment Press Conference (1957)
The Ben Hecht Show (1958)
Irv Kupcinet Show (1959)
Too Much, Too Soon, with Gerold Frank. New York: Henry Holt and
^ The Barrymore Brat by Nord Riley, October 3 1942, Collier's Weekly
^ THE AGE "
Diana Barrymore Dislikes Australia"; March 15, 1952
^ "Diana Barrymore". The
Mike Wallace Interview. Retrieved 7 April
^ "Heart Attack On Train Fatal To Robert Wilcox". Sarasota
Hearld-Tribune. June 12, 1955. Retrieved September 11, 2013.
^ *M.J. Meaker, Sudden Endings, 13 Profiles in Depth of Famous
Suicides(Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1964), p.
168-188: "You'll See, Mr. Atkinson: Diane Barrymore"
^ "Autopsy Fails to Show Cause of Diana Barrymore's Death". Lodi
News-Sentinel. January 27, 1960.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Diana Barrymore.
Diana Barrymore on IMDb
Diana Barrymore at the
Internet Broadway Database
Internet Broadway Database
Diana Barrymore papers, 1865-1959 (bulk 1937-1957), held by the Billy
Theatre Division, New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
Diana Barrymore at Find a Grave
interviewed on television by
Mike Wallace on July 14, 1957
Diana wearing shades after being beaten by guy
Diana as an infant portrait with her father
with her father on his 60th birthday, February 1942
Blanche Oelrichs and daughter Diana on the RMS Berengaria
ISNI: 0000 0001 1029 2535
BNF: cb14659732h (data)