by Martin F. Norden

Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1995
Bio-Bibliographies in the Performing Arts, No. 68 (ISSN 0892-5550)
ISBN 0-313-29268-X
328 pages

Appearing in about 60 films and dozens of stage and radio productions, John Barrymore (1882-1942) was arguably the most idolized performing arts figure of his generation. Renowned for his ability to make even the flimsiest roles come to life with power and passion, the "Great Profile" reached his apex with title role performances in stagings of Richard III (1920) and Hamlet (1922-25). This book charts his legendary and sometimes scandalous life and career.

A biography discusses his love of roles requiring physical or psychological distortion, his four failed marriages, and his memorable achievements on the stage and screen. Chapters that follow contain entries for his performances in stage, film, and radio productions, with each entry providing cast and crew listings, plot synopses, critical commentary, and excerpts from reviews. Also included are a discography, a chapter on plays and films with characters modeled after Barrymore, an annotated bibliography, and discussions of archives and special collections. The volume closes with a personal essay by Barrymore's Shakespearean vocal coach, Margaret Carrington. This essay, written by a pivotal figure in Barrymore's development as a serious actor, has never before been published.

CONTENTS: Preface; Biography; Chronology; Stage Performances; Film Performances; Radio Performances; Discography; "Barrymoresque" Characterizations; Annotated Bibliography; Archives and Special Collections; Appendix A: Audio/Visual Distributors Directory; Appendix B: "The John Barrymore I Knew" by Margaret Carrington; Endnotes Key; Index.

MARTIN F. NORDEN teaches and writes about film as a Professor of Communication at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, USA. His articles have appeared in journals such as Film & History, Film Criticism, Journal of Film and Video, Paradoxa, and Wide Angle, and in numerous anthologies. His books include The Changing Face of Evil in Film and Television (Amsterdam: Editions Rodopi, 2007), The Cinema of Isolation: A History of Physical Disability in the Movies (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1994), and Movies: A Language in Light (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1984). His most recent books are Lois Weber: Interviews (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2019) and Pop Culture Matters: Proceedings of the 39th Conference of the Northeast Popular Culture Association (Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2019).

At this point, you may want to:

SPECIAL NOTE: Marty is available for public presentations on John Barrymore and related topics. Contact him at norden(at) for more information.

John Barrymore at the height of his career