Friday, February 24, 2017

The Hair: Mr. B & Comb Battles, 1900-1934

So I have LONG been interested in the many, MANY different looks Lionel Barrymore had throughout his career, in 'real-life' and film. He was absolutely known for mussing his hair, from his earliest films into his final ones, and it was a source of jokes and caricatures, the floppy mess he usually had on top of his head (which was, most often, his natural, longish, straight hair. I have yet to see one image or film where Lionel, unlike John, had a practically shaved head--John did so a few times, notably for Justice on Broadway).
Disney caricature of Lionel Barrymore (with gray hair here)

Unlike his generally more follicle-aware brother John, Mr. B seemed content to comb back his hair with the slicker of choice, then absently run his hands through it during the day, often ignoring the long strands framing his face on one side. He had a tendency to rub his hair back and forth, and other people have attested to this. Like John, Mr. B had his own hair until his death, and while it grayed and got somewhat thinner in his final years, it was an omnipresent "character" itself. Black, straight, cut short or grown long and combed back, the Hair was a Barrymore all in itself.

I will note the pics of him with short, curly hair for The Other Girl on stage was due to Mr. B wanting to appear as much like a real-life boxer as possible, so he had his hair curled for the role.  One of the MOST distinct looks he had of many, many looks.  His hand use and hair-mussing is one way I've been able to identify him when I was unsure at first in his silent films. But that hair, that "faun-like" right ear...

So I devised a plan to track those looks down, and I am astonished! Check this out [part 1--more to come]:

The Mysterious Island, 1929 filming
Pardon the lack of photoshop trimming so just the hair is visible, but well...:)

From baby Lionel B to about 1934 and The Voice of Bugle Ann...the hair never stops! (Click for bigger image)

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