By: Scott RossPublished: September 21, 2022

Herbert Arthur Chamberlayne Blythe

On September 21, 1849, William Edward Blythe and his wife Charlotte Matilda Chamberlayne de Tankerville, welcomed into the world their seventh and last child, Herbert Arthur Chamberlayne Blythe.

Born and raised in the Punjab Province, where his father worked for the East India Company, Herbert was eventually sent to England to study first at Harrow School and then later Oxford University, where he was captain of the football team. Four years later, in 1872, Herbert would win the middleweight boxing championship of England.

Despite his heroics on the pitch and in the square circle, it was around this time that Herbert threatened to bring great shame upon the Blythe name by pursuing a career in the dramatic arts. In order to spare his father such an embarrassment, Herbert changed his name to Maurice Barrymore.

In 1874, Maurice put some actual distance between himself and his father by setting sail for America to chase his dreams, and the following year he made his Broadway debut in Pique. It was there he fell in love with cast-mate Georgiana Drew, and the two were wed a year hence.

Georgina then proceeded to give birth to arguably the most acclaimed generation of thespians in the history of the Anglosphere: Lionel in 1878, Ethel in 1879, and John in 1882.

Lionel appeared in more than 75 shorts and more than 100 feature films, including It's a Wonderful Life, Key Largo, Grand Hotel, and You Can't Take It with You, the latter two winning Best Picture. He also married two famed actresses of the day, Doris Rankin and Irene Fenwick.

Ethel starred in dozens of stage productions, more than 30 feature films, and received four Oscar nods, winning Best Actress in a Supporting Role for None But the Lonely Heart. She also had three children, Samuel, John and Ethel Colt, who acted on stage.

John married three accomplished actresses, Katherine Corri Harris, Blanche Oelrichs, and Dolores Costello, the latter giving birth to John Barrymore Jr.

Like his father, John Jr was a successful actor and serial groom, with more than 40 acting credits, as well as four marriages and four divorces, to his name. He and his third wife, Jaid Mako, brought into the world Drew Barrymore, of whom you've probably heard.

Let's raise a glass and toast the birth of the most enduring acting dynasty America has ever known.


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