Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Mary, Ethel...Mary? Ethel II and Mary Barrymore's tragically short lives

Because it has been bugging me and many other biographer/fans of Lionel Barrymore, a man who loved kids but had no surviving children of his own, I dug a little more for information on the (at least 2) daughters he had with Doris Rankin, to whom he was married from 1904-1923.

It appears there was a child born in Paris to them, named Mary, who seemingly was born and died in 1906, the first year they were in Paris. Peters mentions the survey by Daniel Blum LB answered in "the 1950s", in which he said he and Doris had two daughters, neither of whom survived infancy. In the same bio, she says John, Lionel's nephew (I presume she means John Jr) said a daughter died in the flu epidemic of 1917-18.  With that, I set forth and starting digging--and oh, what a dig.

It is clear Ethel Barrymore II was indeed born, in Paris, in 1908 and died in 1910 in New York.  She was with Lionel and Doris when they arrived in New York August of 1909, and was about a year old, according to news accounts. I have gathered from the PHENOMENAL site various New York newspaper accounts of this period, including several which mention Ethel II's death.

What I find perhaps most sad in this is that scarcely three or so weeks later, Doris Rankin, her father McKee Rankin, and her husband Lionel Barrymore were once more performing on stage at the Alhambra theater on April 19th, 1910, as noted in the NY Evening Post of that day.

On Mary Barrymore, born in the US, I was able to find out the following:
Mary Barrymore, aged one and a half
years, the infant daughter of Mr. and
Mrs.Lionel Barrymore and niece of Ethel
Barrymore, died at the family residence
in Garden City, Long Island, Monday
from pneumonia. The child had been ill
five days prior to her death. 
(excerpted from  The New York Clipper, March 21, 1917, page six, Vaudeville section,

Mary Barrymore, daughter of Mr.
and Mrs. Lionel Barrymore, died
Monday from pneumonia at the age
of two years. Interment was made
at Philadelphia. 
(excerpted from the Hempstead Sentinel, Tuesday, March 22, 1917, 


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