ETHEL BARRYMORE: STAGE BEAUTY

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Ethel Barrymore (1879-1959) was an outstanding American actress and a member of the famous theatrical Barrymore family. She was born Ethel Mae Blythe in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her parents were actors and she was the sister of John and Lionel Barrymore.  She was the great aunt of modern day actress Drew Barrymore.

Ethel Barrymore was considered by many to be the greatest actress of her generation. She was a major Broadway performer and first appeared there in 1895. She had roles in A Dolls House by Ibsen (1905).  She was a strong supporter of the Actors’ Equity Association and played a major role in the 1919 strike. She played in Somerset Maugham’s comedy, The Constant Wife (1926). She also starred in motion pictures beginning her film career in 1914.  Notable films included None but the Lonely Heart (1944) and The Spiral Staircase (1946). Around 1900, Winston Churchill proposed marriage to Barrymore but she refused. She later married Russell Griswold Colt in 1909 and had three children. She died of cardiovascular disease in 1959 at her home in California. The Ethel Barrymore Theatre in New York City is named in her honor.

The top cabinet card portrait of Ethel Barrymore was photographed by Phillips Photographers of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. To view other photographs by Phillips, click on the category “Photographer: Phillips”. The second cabinet card image of the actress was produced by Sarony, the famous celebrity photographer who’s studio was located in New York City. To see other Sarony photographs, click on the category “Photographer: Sarony”.

The third portrait of Miss Barrymore appears on a postcard published by the Rotograph Company who operated in  New York City and Germany. This postcard portrait was taken by famed Chicago photographer William Morrison. He is well known for his excellent portraits of theatrical stars. He produced both real photo postcards and cabinet cards. This postcard is number HB/1422 of the “Rotograph Series”. The image on this postcard is color tinted. This postcard has been mailed and postmarked (1907). The reverse of this postcard can be seen below.To view other photographs by Morrison, click on the category “Photographer: Morrison”.

The fourth portrait of Ethel Barrymore is an uncommon one. The image provides a lovely profile view of this legendary actress. If you search for this exact postcard online, you likely won’t find it. This postcard was published by E. Frey & Company who operated in  New York City . Research reveals that postcards displaying the printed name of  “E. Frey” were actually published by the Souvenir Post Card Company which existed between 1905 and 1914. It was located at 268 Canal Street in New York City. The company was purchased by Valentine & Sons and the combined company became Valentine – Souvenir. This postcard was printed in Germany and is in good condition (see scan).

The fifth photograph of Miss Barrymore was published by the Rotograph Company. This postcard portrait was taken by famed Chicago celebrity photographer William Morrison.This postcard is number B 662 of the “Rotograph Series”. The image has excellent clarity.

The sixth image is a vintage real photo postcard portrait of Ethel Barrymore. The postcard was published by Albert Hahn who was based in New York City (200 Broadway) and Hamburg. Hahn operated his company between 1901 and 1919. The postcard was produced in Germany sometime in the decade of 1900-1910. The postcard is part of a series (no. 5271),

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                                            REVERSE OF THIRD IMAGE (ROTOGRAPH POSTCARD)

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                                             REVERSE OF FIFTH IMAGE (ROTOGRAPH POSTCARD)

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                              REVERSE OF THE SIXTH IMAGE (POSTCARD BY ALBERT HAHN)

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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Wonderful to be able to revisit these fine pictures of a younger Ethyl Barrymore. She had many admirers … apparently one try at marriage was enough. At her farewell appearance and final curtain call, it is said, she repeated for the last time, “That’s all there is; there isn’t any more.” But images live on. Thanks for showing them.

  2. Thank you Bill Patterson for your anecdotes and comment about Miss Barrymore. Her brothers, of course, were Lionel and John Barrymore. No need to give history on either of them, nor their well-deserved fame as actors (although Lionel detested having to follow the family acting tradition…He was a fine artist and studied at the N.Y. Artists Studio). Churchill “chased” her for quite a time. – I wonder if she ever regretted saying “No” to one of the century’s greatest men? – Her husband, was from the “Colt” manufacturer of rifles, etc. – Interestingly, Miss B. was a fine pianist that passionately desired a musical career, and performed in notable recitals. She had to abandon that to go on the stage, and then finally, the movies. The family fortune was dwindling away from alcoholism on her brother’s part, and she was forced to support her siblings. – Again, kinda my usual comment: Can you imagine her being considered a “great beauty” today? But then, she wouldn’t have gone near the “theatre” as it is defined today. She was a cultured woman.

  3. The following is a comment left by Victoria Jarvis concerning the fourth portrait (RPPC Profile View of Ethel Barrymore). I left my comments about Ethel Barrymore – at length,( somewhat, considering what I have read about the history of the entire family dynasty…on the last CC collection posted. – There are some great books out there…Bio of John…)
    This is the most remarkable photograph I’ve seen. Imagine, that smoky voice, that high intellect, her royal persona… Thank you Cabinet Card

  4. […] Source: ETHEL BARRYMORE: STAGE BEAUTY | THE CABINET CARD GALLERY […]

  5. I find interesting the ‘engagements’ and ‘rumors of engagements’ that followed Ms Barrymore … especially during the London tour when she was still only in her late teen years. She must have been something. My favorite story (probably apocryphal, at least in part due to extant variations in ‘suitor identity’ and ‘cable editing for story effect’: [She cabled her father, Maurice B., telling of her engagement … he replied, ’Congratulations’. Another cable shortly after said they had called it off. He again replied, ’Congratulations’.] Despite these ‘romantic engagements’ Ethel did not actually marry until she was almost 30 … to a man three years her junior. Reports were that it was troubled from the start. She took no alimony, just child support, from the divorce. Neither she nor Mr. Colt married again. Interesting. I enjoyed Victoria Jarvis’ insightful comments. Thanks.


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