Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Happy birthday to little brother John!

Per his birth certificate (not the family bible), John Barrymore was born on, yes, Valentine's Day, 1882, in Philadelphia, PA.  He tells amusing stories (or the stories are reported as if he said them) of feeling he MUST have been born on this day, and his friend Helios Hotchener seemed to provide some kind of verification via the stars.  Ok, I don't know about that, but big brother and big sister were certainly on hand to welcome John Sidney Blythe.  I was a Jack fan well before I became a Lionel fan, and I do appreciate his work and am of course a bit sad at the way his early brain damage via alcohol abuse warped his life--but he seemed to have a good time and tried to be a good guy when he could.

So here's to you, Jake! Enjoy the eternal roses.

With third wife Dolores Costello, after their wedding in Yuma, AZ

h/t this blog--Mary Astor and Jack

Gorgeous portrait!

My own Jack Valentine--in Topaze

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Lionel's got a brand new grab!

... Sorry about that. But a not quite lost Mae Marsh film (The Little Tease, 1913) had been youtubed and Bob Fells managed to grab me an image of Mr. B in his compelling role of Man at Bar:

Ah, what a part! :) See it at: The Little Tease, 1913 Excellent music for it too! Henry B Walthall appears to good effect.

And in time for Valentines /Ash Wednesday /John Barrymore's birthday!

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Calendar gifts!

I know it's a bit late, but here are some calendar gifts for the Barrymore-minded among us:

My creation--prints best smaller, like 8x10

courtesy Bob Fells, SFT (prints best at about 8x10)

courtesy Bob Fells, SFT (prints well at 11x17). His brilliant photoshop of 2 Barrymore films, Romeo & Juliet and Paris at Midnight.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Out with the old, in with the new

Or so goes many a new year toast. I've become much less of a new year brouhaha person as I've gotten older. I've always hated black eyed peas and greens and am happy to let other people scarf them down. One felicitous year, my roommate and I decided M&Ms were ideal new year treats.

But this time I'm feeling ill and I'm really just exhausted from life, not to mention a difficult year. I go back to work Tuesday and I have more I want to get done. It's also really COLD out, for south Texas. So best to hibernate.

I wanted to send all my hopes for good health, love, and happiness. As Mr B once put it, "there are three things in life that are important: youth, health, and someone to love you". We may not have youth always, but I wish all the other 2. Keep looking up!

"Yup, let's just bury 2017 out in the back 40. No one'll notice" 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

As we descend into December slumber...

..allow me to offer you, dear Reader, a holiday/ Christmas gift from the nominally-at-least Catholic Lionel Barrymore and me--a version of his A Christmas Carol and one of A Visit from St. Nick. Both are well worth a listen. Mr. B did his Scrooge on radio from 1934-1953 with only one (possibly 2 depending on the source, but he definitely missed 1936, when brother John took over for him) miss.

Mr. B loved this role and took great pleasure in doing it. He was supposed to be cast as Scrooge in the film version that starred Alistair Sim, but was unable to due to pain/injury. He did recommend Sim to the producers, but for almost 2 decades, the voice of Christmas was the voice of Lionel Barrymore.  Give 'em a listen!

Click below for the 1939 version of the Campbell Playhouse December show:
A Christmas Carol, Mr. B & Orson Welles as narrator

He always dressed for the part--this is post-1938 LB
Click below for:
A Visit from St. Nick and a part from the gospel of Matthew, "No Room at the Inn"

Happy Holidays of your choice, y'all! :)

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

1917 films completed!

And yesterday, I finished the 1917 filmography on the blog, and it's rather full of wonderful discoveries, especially about the 1917 lost National Red Cross Pageant film. So please take a look and enjoy! Whew, glad that is done.

What happened then, you ask? Lionel and John Barrymore went on to hypersuccess in Peter Ibbetson on Broadway. Mr. B would leave the film world from very late 1917 until 1920, with huge success with John in The Jest, 1919, as well.

But I finished 1917 before the end of 2017! :)

63 years of "manana": Celebrating Mr. B through history

I was unable to think of a pithy title, so I suppose this will have to work. But here it is, 63 years after Lionel Barrymore's death in 1954, and I discovered late what I wanted to post.

I have long, long been curious about his incredible durability and popularity in films--he wasn't always easy to pigeonhole until the Kildare films, and even then, he was capable of non-stereotypical roles in things like It's a Wonderful Life and Down to the Sea in Ships. I realized that I shoudln't really be thinking about the popularity so much as the legend or stories that grew up around him, some abetted by Mr. B gleefully, some not. And yes, some outright lies:
Lionel was the eldest, not Ethel! He never lied about the year, just the day MPMag, 1916

So, to help flesh out the legends of Lionel, here is a background on his name, the associated lore about it, and a variety of pop culture references to Lionel--Barrymore and not!

Mr. B was named, according to Maurice Barrymore's biographer, after an actor friend of his father's, the Welsh actor Lionel Brough (Mar 10, 1835-Nov 9, 1909), seen here in a postcard from 1884. The gentleman lived long enough to be recorded speaking about his memories of some fellow actors and to have seen his friend Barry succeed on stage and sire three children. Brough, is a fascinating figure on his own and probably best known for his role as Tony Lumpkin in She Stoops to Conquer. Indeed, he had a son named Sydney, and given John Barrymore's middle name and its spelling, I wonder if John was partly named for this younger Brough. Check out this other interesting connection with a future Barrymore:
Brough as the Laird in a 1895 staging of Trilby

Brough was quite successful overall. There are almost more portraits extant of him than Maurice Barrymore in his heyday!

I also found this interesting tidbit, for you hound fans:

1906 Reminiscence by Lionel Brough
The gentleman apparently recorded quite a few things in the early years of gramophone, but they're pretty rare. This one was uploaded just this year! Funny stuff, too. The youtuber AusRadio HIstorian notes: "LIONEL BROUGH (1836 - 1909) with one of the earliest theatrical reminiscences ever recorded by the gramophone, THE STORY OF CHARLIE BACKUS AND TONY PASTOR, recorded 22nd September 1906 when Brough was 70 years old. This recollection of the 'low comedian' (slapstick) of the 1860s and 1870s, Charlie Backus (1831 - 1883) ,relates to the alcoholic habits of this member of Moore and Burgess' Minstrels. They were originally known (1840s) as 'The Christy Minstrels'. That was one of the first formal blackface minstrel troupes to tour theatrically, commencing in the 1840s and eventually breaking up in London at the end of the nineteenth century. Brough was evidently a great raconteur, but his seven issued G&T discs and his two Edison Bell cylinders are all as rare as the proverbial hen's teeth. My friend Stephen Langley found this disc with a horde of pre-1907 Gramophone and Typewriter Company discs in good condition in a junk shop in the Western district of Victoria, Australia. I thank him for the opportunity of uploading these spectacularly rare audio artifacts!"

I encourage people interested to Google him! He really was interesting, and I certainly can see Maurice Barrymore being good friends with him.

And, realizing there had to be a "Lionel-day" since good Catholics have name-saint days (though as far as I can tell, Mr. B did not acquire another name in his Catholic baptism, Lionel being a good saint's name derived from Leo through the French), I hunted about for that and the meaning of the names/associations with it:

Quick Facts on Lionel

  • Gender: Boy
  • Origin: French
  • Number of syllables: 2 (not in French or in Mr. B's pronunciation! It is 3)
  • Ranking popularity: 733
Pronunciation: LYE-nul; LEE-o-nәl
Simple meaning: Little Lion

Characteristics of Lionel (fits Mr. B to a tee!)

  • Dependable
  • Solid
  • Practical
  • Hard-working
  • Industrious
  • Studious
  • Conservative

Etymology & Historical Origin - Lionel

Lionel is the French diminutive of the French Léon. Leon comes from the Greek “leon” (λεων) meaning “lion”. The Latin equivalent is Leo; the two names are considered interchangeable at this point. The name Leon has been common among Jewish people owing to Genesis 49:9 when Jacob (just prior to his death) gathers his twelve sons for his final blessing and foretells their respective futures. To his fourth son Judah he said: “Judah is a lion’s cub; from the prey, my son, you have gone up…who dares rouse him?” The Kingdom of Judah became one of the two Jewish states (the other being the Kingdom of Israel) around the 10th century B.C. and is where the royal line of David ruled (the capital being Jerusalem). The lion therefore became an important symbol to the Jews. Aside from the Jewish connection, Leonidas I was a 5th century B.C. King of Sparta admired for his bravery and leadership, and believed to be descended from Hercules. The “Leo” names have also been readily adopted by Western Christians since medieval times, as well, given the fact that thirteen Popes assumed the Leo name (starting with the 5th century Bishop of Rome, Leo the Great, who famously persuaded Attila the Hun to withdraw from his planned attack on Rome). Lastly, Sir Lionel was one of King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table, the legends of which were popularized throughout Europe in the 12th century (see literary references below). The lion is a powerful and regal animal so it’s no wonder why many people of many different languages have chosen this name for their sons. Leon is the most common spelling around the world and enjoys widespread usage in places like Croatia, Austria, Norway, Slovenia, Sweden, Scotland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, England, France, Bosnia and Herzegovina. American parents in the United States prefer the Italian Leonardo. Not many people use the Lionel spelling anymore.

Popularity of the Name Lionel

Lionel is a name that’s existed on the American male naming charts since the late 19th century (initial usage was most likely influenced by French-Americans). Throughout the 20th century Lionel saw constant moderate success – neither very popular nor very unpopular. Just consistent. The 21st century has been less than kind to this sweet little Lion, however. Since the year 2000, Lionel has been off the charts more than he’s been on. This one can rarely hang on to the Top 1000 list at all. American parents are going ga-ga over the Italian Leonardo and leaving the French diminutive Lionel at the door. The only form of this name less popular than Lionel right now is the Greek Leonidas. Still, all of these Leo names with the “lion” etymology make great choices for pet cats.

Literary Characters of the Baby Name Lionel 

Sir Lionel (Tales of King Arthur's Knights of the Round Table) Sir Lionel is the younger son of King Bors of Gaul who, when his father is killed in battle, is taken by the Lady of the Lake to her underwater kingdom. Here he is raised along with his brother, Bors and his cousin, Lancelot, and they all eventually become Knights of King Arthur’s Round Table. Lionel is ever loyal to Lancelot, accompanying him on his many chivalric voyages and defending him in le affaire Guinevere. Lionel is also, however, a rather hot-tempered fellow, who is angered by his brother’s knightly decision to save a damsel in distress rather than his own brother. Lionel tries to avenge himself on his brother, but Bors refuses to fight him. After a hermit and a fellow knight try to intervene and are killed by Lionel, the heavenly powers step in and send a lightning bolt out of the sky, effectively ending the fight. This seems to have a sobering effect on Lionel, and he repents of his sins. Well-aimed lightning bolts have a way of doing that to a person.

  Popular Songs on Lionel

Lionel Say - a song by Jim's Big Ego
Sir Lionel the Spiteful Knight - a song by Daniel Marcotte 

Children's Books on the Baby Name Lionel 

Lionel and Amelia (Leone Peguero) - Lionel is a very tidy mouse. Amelia is quite messy. And being friends is easy, as long as they both stay true to themselves. This gentle, supportive book about being yourself is illustrated in colorful pencil drawings and is sure to charm young readers. Full color. 

Lionel and the Book of Beasts (E. Nesbit) - What if the turn of a page released the power of a dragon? When young Lionel becomes king, he is told not to open the Book of Beasts. But how can he resist when mythical creatures spring to life right out of the pages? One page that should have remained unturned brings to life a terrifying dragon, and Lionel learns what being a king is truly about. The combined talents of beloved author E. Nesbit and renowned illustrator Michael Hague create a magical adventure for any reader whose imagination brings books alive.

Lionel at School (Stephen Krensky) - Easy-to-Read Puffin Classics. The new school year brings lessons for Lionel to explore with his class. But Lionel has to find out some things by himself. For example, what will his teacher tell his parents on Back-to-School Night? Can the new boy really wrestle polar bears? And how can Lionel make class time go by as quickly as recess? Readers will be quick to identify with Lionel and his friends-and to wonder what Lionel will discover next.

Lionel in the Fall (Stephen Krensky) - Level 3, Easy-to-Read Puffin Classics. For Lionel, fall means starting a new school year, raking leaves, and getting to dress up as a knight and chase a dragon from house to house on Halloween. 

Lionel in the Summer (Stephen Krensky) - Summer is here, and Lionel has big plans. He makes a long list of things to do, from flying spaceships to building castles. But how will he find time for them all? In three other stories, Lionel stays awake for the Fourth of July fireworks, strikes it rich at his lemonade stand, and survives a family car trip. The School Library Journal says: "Children will identify with and laugh with the characters."

Lionel's Christmas Adventure: Lionel Learns the True Meaning of Christmas (Paul R. Hewlett) - Have you ever wanted something you couldn't have? Meet Lionel, a loveable bully-magnet who desperately wants a new sled and will do anything to get it. This fun Christmas book follows Lionel from Larrystown to the North Pole. His magical Three-Toed-Potbellied Walbaun foot is back and is as unpredictable as ever. Whether Lionel's sledding, ice skating, or in a life-sized gingerbread village, it takes him on some grand adventures. 

Lucky Lionel (Ken Meyer Jr.) - Follow a boy named Lionel, whose nickname of "Lucky" may not be as true as he would like! Through an eventful day, Lionel learns self confidence while enjoying the fun exploits any young child will laugh with and understand. 

 Famous People Named Lionel -

 Lionel Richie (musician); Lionel Barrymore (actor); Lionel Atwill (actor); Lionel Messi (Argentine footballer); Lionel Hampton (jazz musician); Lionel Bart (British musician); Lionel Jospin (former Prime Minister of France); Lionel Logue (speech therapist to England's King George VI as portrayed in "The King's Speech"); Lionel Trilling (literary critic); AND I MAY ADD: THE INCREDIBLY NAMED LITERARY CRITIC, LIONEL TIGER.
and finally...

Famous People Who Named Their Son Lionel - Maurice Barrymore (patriarch of the Barrymore acting family)


Other Leonine moments from history:

Pope Leo I, by de Herrera, Prado Museum, Spain

The most famous historical Lionel was actually a Leo--well, two if you count the one who was named after the "Great". Pope Leo I (440-461), saint and the first pope to be referred to as "Great". He was astoundingly influential and powerful--as well as personally strong. It was he who spoke to Attila the Hun in 452 and convinced the raider not to invade Italy. He was an influential writer who promulgated the idea of  papal authority (Petrine supremacy") and the "hypostatic union" in Catholic Christology at the Council of Chalcedon in 451 as well as the earlier Second Council of Ephesus in 449, where his "Tome" was first delivered. His feast day is--I kid you not, November 10, just 5 days before Lionel Barrymore died 1,493 years later. He is still very well-regarded in Catholicism for his influential writings and power (not to mention talking down Attila the Hun!), and is also what is called a "Doctor" of the Church (1754), influential saints with contributions particularly to theology or doctrine.

Of course, in terms of the near-secular, you have the epic Leonardo da Vinci, Lionel (Lio) Messi, and a few more hyper-humans:)

Culturally, besides film, there have been a few songs about St Lionel-- I like this one by The Dostoevskys, an Irish flavored tune:

 Lionel in cartoon and animation:

A Gillespie-esque character in "Nursery Crimes": NURSERY CRIMES

"J. Snuffington Snodgrass", 1943 cartoon, linked above on youtube

Both from Mickey's Big Gala

Simon Bar Sinister, an Underdog cartoon villain, is based in voice and lookd on Mr. B as Mr. Potter, basically:

A few other cartoon or sketch versions of Mr B:
As Father Time in "Our Mr Sun", the only time any part of Mr. B appeared on TV

UB Iwerks Flip the Frog cartoon, 1933, Soda Squirt (on youtube!)
But in the end, for me I'm recalling a man I'm fascinated by in many ways, who really has left a huge trail of influence behind in in many, many ways, Mr Lionel Barrymore. I wish you well in the hereafter, though I think you are well set for eternity.  Here's to you, Mr. B!


Mr B did NOT look like this in the film!
Any my color edit of a 1926 MGM portrait. The smile!