Maurice Barrymore

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Herbert Arthur Chamberlayne Blyth

Birthdate: (55)
Birthplace: Amritsar, Amritsar, Punjab, India
Death: March 25, 1905 (51-59)
Amityville, Suffolk County, New York, United States (Died in his sleep)
Place of Burial: Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of William Edward Blyth and Charlotte Matilda Chamberlayne, de Tankerville
Husband of Georgiana Emma Barrymore and Marie (Mamie) Blyth
Father of Lionel Barrymore; Ethel Barrymore and John Sidney Barrymore
Brother of Alice Blyth; William Henry Blyth and Evelyn Agnes Blyth

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About Maurice Barrymore

Herbert Arthur Chamberlayne Blyth (September 21, 1849 in Amritsar, Punjab, India - March 26, 1905 in Amityville, New York) was the patriarch of the Barrymore acting family.

He was educated at Harrow School, England and studied Law at Oxford University. On March 21, 1872 he won the middleweight boxing championship of England. His father expected him to become a barrister, but Herbert fell in with a group of actors, which scandalized the elder Blyth. In order to spare his father the "shame" of having a son in such a "dissolute" vocation, he took the stage name Maurice Barrymore, inspired by a conversation he had with fellow actor Charles Vandenhoff about William Barrymore, an early 19th-Century English thespian after seeing a poster depicting Barrymore in the Haymarket Theatre. He wanted his first name to be pronounced in the French manner (môr-Ä'S) instead of the English (MÃ"R-is). His friends avoided that altogether by simply calling him "Barry". On December 29, 1874 he boarded the SS America for Boston, and joined Augustin Daly's troupe making his debut in Under the Gaslight.

He made his Broadway debut in December 1875 in Pique; in the cast was a young actress, Georgiana Drew. They married on December 31, 1876, and had three children: Lionel, Ethel, and John. Exactly one year after her death from consumption, he re-married.

On March 19, 1879, in Marshall, Texas, he and fellow actor Ben Porter were shot by Texas and Pacific engineer Jim Currie (who shared a cell with the accused killer of Diamond Bessie). Porter was killed; doctors spent the night operating on Barrymore to save his life. He made a full recovery, and returned to Marshall for the legal maneuverings that followed. Currie's brother was mayor of Shreveport, Louisiana and apparently used his influence to secure a not guilty verdict (after a 10 minute deliberation). An enraged Barrymore vowed never to return to Texas. [1]

He played opposite many other stars of the time including Minnie Maddern Fiske and Lillie Langtry. According to a 2004 A&E Biography piece, after the Ben Porter tragedy, Maurice asked Georgie to tour with him and Helena Modjeska in a play he had written. Georgie and the children had converted to Roman Catholicism under Helena's influence. Learning that he and Helena had resumed their romance, Georgie, who had been given ownership the play by Maurice, forced his hand by closing it. Helena's husband, its producer, sued her. The real reason for Georgie's actions never got into the press. However, Maurice's many dalliances did make the tabloids.

He eventually became infected with syphilis. The March 25 1905 New York Times reported: "He was playing a vaudeville engagement at a Harlem theatre when he suddenly dropped his lines and began to rave. The following day he became violent and was taken to Bellevue insane ward by his son John." He died in his sleep, and was buried by Ethel at Glenwood Cemetery in Philadelphia.

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Maurice Barrymore's Timeline

September 21, 1849
Amritsar, Amritsar, Punjab, India
April 28, 1878
Age 28
Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, United States
August 15, 1879
Age 29
Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, United States
February 15, 1882
Age 32
Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, United States
March 25, 1905
Age 55
Amityville, Suffolk County, New York, United States
March 26, 1905
Age 55
Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, United States