~John Barrymore~

Born: February 15, 1882 in Philadelphia, PA, USA
Died: May 29, 1942 in Los Angeles, CA, USA
~Silent Filmography~
Eternal Love (1929) .... Marcus Paltran
Tempest (1928) .... Sgt. Ivan Markov
The Beloved Rogue (1927) .... François Villon
When a Man Loves (1927) .... Chevalier Fabien des Grieux
... aka His Lady (UK)
Don Juan (1926) .... Don Jose de Marana/Don Juan de Marana
The Sea Beast (1926) .... Captain Ahab Ceeley
Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1925) (uncredited) .... Crowd extra in chariot race
... aka Ben-Hur (USA: short title)
Beau Brummel (1924) .... Gordon Bryon 'Beau' Brummel
Sherlock Holmes (1922) .... Sherlock Holmes
... aka Moriarty (UK)
The Lotus Eater (1921) .... Jacques Leroi
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920/I) .... Dr. Henry Jekyll / Mr. Edward Hyde
The Test of Honor (1919) .... Martin Wingrave
Here Comes the Bride (1919) .... Frederick Tile
On the Quiet (1918) .... Robert Ridgeway
National Red Cross Pageant (1917) .... The Tyrant - Russian episode
Raffles, the Amateur Cracksman (1917) .... A.J. Raffles
... aka Raffles
The Red Widow (1916) .... Cicero Hannibal Butts
The Lost Bridegroom (1916) .... Bertie Joyce
Nearly a King (1916) .... Jack Merriwell, Prince of Bulwana
The Incorrigible Dukane (1915) .... James Dukane
The Dictator (1915) .... Brooke Travers
Are You a Mason? (1915) .... Frank Perry
... aka The Joiner
The Man from Mexico (1914) .... Fitzhugh
An American Citizen (1914) .... Beresford Kruger
One on Romance (1913) (unconfirmed)
A Prize Package (1912) (unconfirmed)
The Widow Casey's Return (1912) (unconfirmed)
The Dream of a Moving Picture Director (1912) (unconfirmed)
Like his brother Lionel and his sister Ethel, American actor John Barrymore had early intentions to
break away from the family theatrical tradition and become an artist, in the "demonic" style of
Gustav Doré. But acting won out; thanks to his natural flair and good looks, Barrymore was a
matinee idol within a few seasons after his 1903 stage debut. His best-known Broadway role for
many years was as an inebriated wireless operator in the Dick Davis farce The Dictator. On stage
and in silent films (including a 1915 version of The Dictator), John was most at home in comedies.
His one chance for greatness occurred in 1922, when he played Hamlet; even British audiences
hailed Barrymore's performance as one of the best, if not the best, interpretation of the melancholy
Dane. Eventually, Barrymore abandoned the theatre altogether for the movies, where he was often
cast more for his looks than his talent. Perhaps in revenge against Hollywood "flesh peddlers,"
Barrymore loved to play roles that required physical distortion, grotesque makeup, or all-out
"mad" scenes; to him, his Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde (1920) was infinitely more satisfying than Don
Juan (1926). When talkies came in, Barrymore's days as a romantic lead had passed, but his
exquisite voice and superb bearing guaranteed him stronger film roles than he'd had in silents; still,
for every Grand Hotel (1932), there were the gloriously hammy excesses of Moby Dick (1930) and
Svengali (1931). Unfortunately, throughout his life, Barrymore was plagued by his taste for alcohol,
and his personal problems began catching up with him in the mid-1930s. From Romeo and
Juliet(1936) onward, the actor's memory had become so befuddled that he had to recite his lines
from cue cards, and from The Great Profile (1940) onward, virtually the only parts he'd get were
those in which he lampooned his screen image and his offstage shenanigans. In 1939, at the behest
of his latest wife Elaine Barrie, Barrymore returned to the stage in My Dear Children, a second-rate
play that evolved into a freak show as Barrymore's performance deteriorated and he began
profanely ad-libbing, and behaving outrageously during the play's run. Sadly, the more Barrymore
debased himself in public, the more the public ate it up, and My Dear Children was a hit, as were
his humiliatingly hilarious appearances on Rudy Vallee's radio show. To paraphrase his old friend
and drinking companion Gene Fowler, Barrymore had gone over Niagara Falls in a barrel; we are
lucky indeed that he left a gallery of brilliant film portrayals before the fall.

Biography by Hal Erickson, AllMovie.com