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About Blanche Marie Louise Barrymore (Oelrichs)
Blanche Oelrichs (October 1, 1890 - November 5, 1950) was an American poet, playwright, and theatre actress known by the pseudonym, "Michael Strange."
Born Blanche Marie Louise Oelrichs, she was the fourth and youngest child of mining heir Charles May Oelrichs and Blanche Pauline Emilie DeLoosey. At "Rosecliff," her grandparents' opulent mansion in Newport, Rhode Island designed by renowned architect Stanford White, Blanche Oelrichs spent summers amidst the Astors, the Vanderbilts and numerous other wealthy elites of American society.
On January 26, 1910, Blanche Oelrichs married Leonard Moorhead Thomas, the son of a prominent Philadelphia banker, with whom she had two children, Leonard Jr. (b. 1911) and Robin May Thomas (1915-1944). A Yale University graduate, her husband had worked in the diplomatic service in Rome and Madrid and served with the United States Army in Europe during World War I, earning the Croix de Guerre from the governmemt of France. Blanche Oelrichs involved herself as an activist for women's suffrage but her love for literature and poetry, especially the works of Walt Whitman, saw her begin writing verse of her own. Using the pen name Michael Strange, she had her first collection of poems published in 1916.
Through her social activities, Blanche Oelrichs-Thomas met renowned actor John Barrymore and after divorcing her husband she married him in 1920. They had one child, Diana Blanche Barrymore, born in 1921. With drawings provided by John Barrymore, Blanche Oelrichs published a book in 1921 titled "Resurrecting Life." She then turned her writing skills to the creation of theatrical plays including a 1921 Broadway production titled "Clair de lune." Based on "L'Homme qui rit" by Victor Hugo, her play starred her husband and his sister Ethel Barrymore. It was made into a 1932 movie of the same name in France by director Henri Diamant-Berger.
In 1921, Oelrichs was among the first to join the Lucy Stone League, an organization that fought for women to preserve their maiden names after marriage.
Frequently apart from her husband due to his performing in New York and London, England, Blanche Oelrichs spent a great deal of time in Paris, France during the next few years. After returning to live in New York, she began acting in live theatre. After her marriage to John Barrymore ended in May of 1925 she performed on stage with a summer stock company in Salem, Massachusetts and appeared in two Broadway plays in 1926 and 1927.
Another book of Oelrichs' poetry was published in 1928 under the title "Selected poems, by Michael Strange" and the following year she married a third time to the prominent New York attorney Harrison Tweed who later became Chairman of Sarah Lawrence College. During the second half of the 1930s Oelrichs hosted a poetry and music program on New York radio station WOR that gained a strong audience. In 1960 her daughter Diana Barrymore died at age thity-eight after a life of drug and alcohol addiction. In 1940, Blanche Oelrichs published her autobiography, "Who Tells Me True." In 1942 she and Harrison Tweed divorced and in 1944 her son Robin died at the age of twenty-nine.
Blanche Oelrichs died from leukemia in 1950 in Boston, Massachusetts. She was interred with her son in the Oelrichs family plot in the Woodlawn Cemetery in The Bronx, New York.
Miscellaneous poems by Michael Strange (1916)
Poems, by Michael Strange (1919)
Resurrecting Life (with drawings by John Barrymore) (1921)
Selected poems, by Michael Strange (1928)
Who Tells Me True (1940)