Drew Barrymore has been working regularly on Turner Classic movies with Robert Osborne, discussing and introducing classic movies. Her face has changed in recent years. Now she looks like a Barrymore.
That’s no small thing because she is this generation’s only representative of what is the longest running act in show business.
Several families have two or three generations of actors and a couple of families have three or more generations of directors. Only one has been on stage and screen for more than 100 years, the royal family of stage and screen, the Barrymores.
As of this writing, Drew Barrymore is her generation’s only working actor. John Drew, Diana, Drew, and John Blyth are the only descendants of John Barrymore who became actors.
Garry and I were trying to guess how many acting dynasties include at least three generations, in which at least one family member in each generation has done something noteworthy as an actor. Not as a director, producer, or writer. Only actors.
Define “noteworthy” please!
It started when we noticed a Capra listed as a crew member of an NCIS episode. Garry wondered if this was a fourth generation of Capras. There was a Frank Capra I, II and III, so it seemed likely to be members of the same family. The Capras are directors. No actors, so they don’t count for the purposes of this post.
Reality shows do not count. Non-speaking and cameo roles do not count, nor does work as a TV announcer, talk show host, or sportscaster. Mere celebrity does not count. Only acting.
The Barrymore genealogy is complicated because it is extensive. There have many marriages and a slew of children. Most of the men in the family are named John, which doesn’t make it easier to follow the trail.
Other acting families are even more confusing. Actors marry each other, divorce frequently, and have children by many partners. They adopt and raise children from former marriages and from spouses’ former relationships. It’s hard to keep track and sometimes, relationships intertwine to such a degree it’s impossible to say to which family a particular person belongs. Not unlike European royal families.
If you count only acting families — and only family members who have had a real acting careers — the number of entries in the field are manageable. You’ll quite a few 2-generation families. A handful of 3-generation families.
Only one family has four generations of working actors.
Drew Barrymore is the family’s current representative.There are many other family members, but none are acting, as of this writing. It doesn’t mean they or their offspring won’t enter the family business in the future. It’s quite a legacy. Talk about family pressure.
If you want to see the other families, or at least most of them, you can look them up. Google “multi-generational acting families“. Wikipedia has a good write-up, but omits significant British families.
The Barrymore family reigns. No other family comes near the prominence or longevity of this family of actors.
Wikipedia’s entry on the Barrymores includes actors and non-actors. There are quite a few family members who are not in show business. The acting family members are in blue.