Diana Blanche Barrymore (1921 - 1960)

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About Diana Blanche Barrymore

Born Diana Blanche Barrymore Blythe in New York City, New York, she was the daughter of renowned actor John Barrymore and his second wife, poet Blanche Oelrichs. She was the half-sister of actor John Drew Barrymore.

Her parents tumultuous marriage lasted only a few years and they divorced when she was four. Educated in Paris, France and at schools in New York City, she had little contact with her estranged father, a situation exacerbated by her mother's bitterness towards him. Her parenting was left to boarding schools and nannies by an almost indifferent mother whose own career and socializing left little time for her daughter.

While in her teens, Diana Barrymore decided to study acting and enrolled at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Because of the prominence of the Barrymore name in the world of theatre, her move onto the stage began with much publicity including a 1939 cover of the prestigious Life magazine. At age nineteen, Diana Barrymore made her Broadway debut and the following year made her first appearance in motion pictures with a small role in a Warner Bros. production. In 1942, she signed a contract with Universal Studios who capitalized on her Barrymore name with a major promotion campaign billing her as "1942's Most Sensational New Screen Personality." However, alcohol and drug problems soon emerged and negative publicity from major media sources dampened her prospects with widely read magazines such as Colliers writing about her conduct in an October 1942 article titled "The Barrymore Brat." After less than three years in Hollywood, and five significant film roles, Diana Barrymore's personal problems ended her film career.

Her father died in 1942 from cirrhosis of the liver after years of alcohol abuse with the two of them barely knowing each other. Diana Barrymore's life became a series of alcohol and drug related disasters marked by bouts of severe depression that resulted in several suicide attempts and extended sanitarium stays. She squandered her movie earnings and her inheritance from her father's estate and when her mother died in 1950 she was left virtually nothing from a once vast family fortune. After three bad marriages to addicted and sometimes abusive men, in 1955 Barrymore had herself hospitalized for nearly a full year of treatment. In 1957, she published her autobiography titled "Too Much, Too Soon" and the following year Warner Bros. made a film with the same title starring Dorothy Malone as Diana and Errol Flynn as her father. However, she soon gave in to her addictions and died from a mixture of alcohol and sleeping pills in 1960 at the age of thirty-eight.The New York Dolls record "The New York Dolls in TOO MUCH TOO SOON" is dedicated to Diana Barrymore. Diana Barrymore is interred in the Woodlawn Cemetery in The Bronx, New York next to her mother.