Thursday, April 02, 2009

"The Barrymores: Hollywood's First Family"

She was acting by the time she was 3 years old. Was there ever a question that Drew Barrymore wouldn't go into the family business?

Actually, it's more like a dynasty. Members of her family were performers before the American Revolutionary War. Her Oscar-winning great-aunt was Ethel Barrymore. Academy Award-winning Lionel Barrymore was her great-uncle. Her grandfather was none other than movie and stage great John Barrymore -- a.k.a. the Great Profile. Her grandmother was Dolores Costello, who had been in movies since she was a child along with her father, Maurice Costello, who was one of the top stars of Vitagraph Pictures in the early part of the 20th century. Even Drew Barrymore's father, John Drew Barrymore, who died in 2004, had a film and TV career.

The lives and times of this remarkable family are the subject of a new exhibition, "The Barrymores: Hollywood's First Family," in the David L. Wolper Center on the ground floor of the Doheny Memorial Library at USC. The exhibition, which opened to the public Friday and continues through July 31, features rare photographs, posters, letters, drawings and other related memorabilia. In addition to the Barrymores and the Costellos, the exhibition features other branches of the family tree, including the Lanes, the Colts and the Blyths.

Above, John, Ethel, and Lionel Barrymore pose with members of the Barrymore and Colt families in the Bel Air Hotel while taking a break from the filming of "Rasputin and the Empress" in 1932.

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