THE BARRYMORES: AMERICA’S ROYAL FAMILY OF ACTORS

This week, we tuned into Drew Barrymore’s latest show on Netflix. It’s called “The Santa Clarita Diet.” She has, in this story, become a zombie. It’s funny because she’s a very suburban and rather bouncy zombie. She certainly dresses a lot better than any other zombie I’ve seen on the screen.

If you are a huge fan of blood, gore, and massive quantities of vomit, this might be the right show for you.

Garry commented that “It’s probably a matter of personal taste.” That was his way of saying “Ew, disgusting, yuck, I’ll never watch it again.” She’s a Barrymore, so he’s being polite. She has a heritage. If anyone in the movie world could be considered royalty, Drew Barrymore has got to be “it.” Regardless, I don’t think I’ll be watching this show ever. I’m pretty sure this could have been a witty, entertaining show without the massive quantities of vomit, blood, and torn out internal organs.

Probably we’re a bit old-fashioned, but all that stuff does is turn my stomach.

For a few years, Drew Barrymore was working on Turner Classic movies with Robert Osborne, discussing and introducing classic movies. It was a treat listening to her observations. She should know, after all.

Drew Barrymore by David Shankbone

She was on Colbert last week, too. Her face has changed in recent years. Now, she really looks like a Barrymore.

John Barrymore as Hamlet, 1922
John Barrymore as Hamlet, 1922

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.

dynasties_01

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.

The Barrymore family.

Barrymore family tree graphic
A very simplified Barrymore family tree

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.

This link takes you to an alphabetical list of show business families. The intricacies of the marriages, divorces and resulting complex relationships will make your head spin.

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 shown in blue.

STAGE AND SCREEN’S ROYAL FAMILY: THE BARRYMORES

Drew Barrymore by David Shankbone
Drew Barrymore by David Shankbone

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.

John Barrymore as Hamlet, 1922
John Barrymore as Hamlet, 1922

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.

dynasties_01

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.

The Barrymore family.

Barrymore family tree graphic
A very simplified Barrymore family tree

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.

This link takes you to an alphabetical list of show business families. The intricacies of the marriages, divorces and resulting complex relationships will make your head spin.

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.

The Barrymores: Show Business’ Royal Family

220px-John_Barrymore_Hamlet_1922Drew Barrymore has been working regularly on Turner Classic movies with Robert Osborne talking about classic movies and introducing them. Her face has changed quite a bit in recent years. I realized she finally really 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 the theatre, the Barrymores.

The Family

  1. Herbert Arthur Chamberlayne Blyth (aka Maurice Barrymore)
  2. ∞ married Georgiana Emma Drew, and had three children: Lionel, Ethel, and John.
    1. Lionel Barrymore
      1. ∞ Married Doris Rankin (first wife), and had two daughters. Marriage ended in divorce.
        1. Mary Barrymore (died at infancy)
        2. Ethel Barrymore II (died at infancy).
      2. ∞ Married to Irene Fenwick (second wife, until her death)
    2. Ethel Barrymore
      1. ∞ Married Russell Griswold Colt, and had three children. Ethel’s children also acted, primarily on the stage.
        1. Samuel Peabody Colt
        2. John Drew Colt
        3. Ethel Barrymore Colt. ∞ Married John Romeo Miglietta, and had John Drew Miglietta (born 10 September 1946)
    3. John Barrymore
      1. ∞ Married to Katherine Corri Harris (first wife, divorced)
      2. ∞ Married Blanche Oelrichs (second wife, divorced), and had:
        1. Diana Blanche Barrymore
          1. ∞ Married Bramwell Fletcher
          2. ∞ Married John R. Howard
          3. ∞ Married Robert Wilcox
      3. ∞ Married Dolores Costello (third wife, divorced), and had:
        1. Dolores Ethel Mae Barrymore (living).
          1. ∞ Married Thomas Fairbanks (first husband, divorced) and had a daughter Hillary Klaradru Fairbanks (living), who ∞ married Thomas Randolph and had a daughter Isabelle Harrison Barrymore Randolph. Also she had a son Anthony John Barrymore Fairbanks who ∞ married Dianne Zaninovich and had a daughter Samantha Mae Barrymore Fairbanks.
          2. ∞ Married Lew Bedell (second husband) and had two children Dore Lewis Bedell and Stephanie Mae Bedell
        2. John Drew Barrymore (Jr.)
          1. ∞ Married Cara Williams (first wife, divorced)
            1. John Blyth Barrymore
              1. ∞ Married Rebecca Pogrow
                1. Blyth Lane Barrymore
                2. Sabrina Brooke Barrymore
              2. ∞ Married Jacqueline Manes
                1. John Blyth Barrymore IV
          2. ∞ Married Gabriella Palazzoli (second wife, divorced)
            1. Blyth Dolores Barrymore. ∞ Married Antonio Gioffredi and had two children Gabriella Gioffredi and Nicole Gioffredi
          3. ∞ Married Nina Wayne (third wife, divorced)
            1. Jessica Barrymore
          4. ∞ Married Ildiko Jaid (fourth wife, divorced)
            1. Drew Barrymore
              1. ∞ Married Jeremy Thomas (first husband, divorced)
              2. ∞ Married Tom Green (second husband, divorced)
              3. ∞ Married Will Kopelman (third husband)
                1. Olive Barrymore Kopelman
      4. ∞ Married to Elaine Barrie née Jacobs. (fourth wife of John Barrymore, Sr., divorced)

As of this writing, other than John Drew, Diana, Drew, and John Blyth, none of the other members of John Barrymore‘s family entered the entertainment industry.

Louisa Lane Drew 1840-48
Louisa Lane Drew 1840-48

Drew’s family

Family of Georgiana Emma Drew, mother of Lionel, Ethel, and John, also quit acting.

  1. John Drew, actor
  2. ∞ Louisa Lane Drew, actress
    1. Georgiana Emma Drew, ∞ wife of Maurice Barrymore and mother of Lionel, Ethel, and John.
    2. John Drew Jr.
      1. Louise Drew, ∞ married performer Jack Devereaux; their son John Drew Devereaux was a Broadway stage manager
    3. Sidney Drew, known for the Mr. & Mrs. Sidney Drew comedy act
      1. Sidney Rankin Drew, left his acting career to join the Lafayette Escadrille, and was killed in action
    4. Louisa Drew, actress

What got this post started? Garry and I got to talking and speculating how many genuine acting dynasties we could think of with at least three generations where at least one member of each generation has done something noteworthy as a performer. Not a director, producer or writer. An actor. Only.

dynasties_01

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 a member of the same family. However, they are all directors. No actors. So they don’t count in this particular equation.

If you want to play movie trivia with Garry, you play by his rules. He declared that in order to count as an actor for that generation, he or she must have “made a mark,” that is, have done something that in Garry’s opinion counts, eliminating families like the Osbournes which probably should be eliminated on principle anyhow. Reality shows, no matter how popular, do not count. Nor does working as a reporter. Don’t argue with Garry about this. You will lose.

This genealogy got a lot more complicated than I expected. The members of acting dynasties marry each other, divorce each other, have children by each other as well as with other partners. Then there are the adopted and step children of everybody’s former marriages. It gets hard to keep track.

barrymore-family-tree

It turns out, following the Garry Guidelines, there are not as many families as I thought. Plenty of two generation families, a handful of three generation families — and only one family that has more than three generations. Barrymore.

Chaplin @ Barrymore Theatre on Broadway

Of this great family, Drew is only working member, its only current representative.There are many other members of the family. Although none of them are acting, it doesn’t mean they or their offspring won’t enter the family business in the future. It’s quite a legacy to live up to. Talk about pressure.

If you want to see the other families or at least most of them,  you can look them up; just Google “multi-generational acting families”. The Wikipedia entry omits several significant British acting families. This link takes you to an alphabetical list of show business families. The intricacies of the marriages, divorces and resulting complex relationships will make your head spin.

The Barrymore family reigns. No other family comes near the prominence or longevity of this family of actors.

The Wikipedia entry on the Barrymore family tree 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. Most of the Barrymores  married no more than once or twice, so it’s easier to track them than some other families.