John Drew Barrymore

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John Drew Barrymore
Anne Helm John Drew Barrymore 1964.JPG
Barrymore with Anne Helm in a Gunsmoke appearance, 1964.
Born John Blyth Barrymore[1]
(1932-06-04)June 4, 1932
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Died November 29, 2004(2004-11-29) (aged 72)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Occupation Film, television actor
  • John Blyth Barrymore, born May 15, 1954 (to Cara)
  • Blyth Dolores Barrymore (born 1960 to Gabriella)
  • Drew Barrymore, born February 22, 1975 (to Jaid)
  • Brahma (Jessica) Blyth Barrymore (July 31,1966- July 29, 2014 [died in National City, CA] to Nina)

John Drew Barrymore (born John Blyth Barrymore; June 4, 1932 – November 29, 2004) was a member of the Barrymore family of actors, which included his father, John Barrymore, and his father's siblings, Lionel and Ethel. He was the father of four children, including John Blyth Barrymore and actress Drew Barrymore. His half-sister was Diana Barrymore from his father's second marriage.

Early life[edit]

Barrymore was born in Los Angeles, California to John Barrymore and Dolores Costello. He was a late child for his father, who wanted a son and was 50 years old at his birth, while his mother was 28. His parents divorced when he was around three years old in 1935, and Barrymore said he had met his father only once. His father died in 1942 when Barrymore was nine years old. He also stated that he and his cousin, Dirk Drew Davenport, enlisted in the United States Navy during World War II. As both were tall for their age, the military did not discover until several weeks later that the boys were below the minimum enlistment age. Barrymore ran away when he was 17 years old and signed a film contract, but repeatedly abandoned leading roles and had no major film career.[2]


In 1958, he changed his middle name to Drew, although he had previously been credited in past works as Blyth. This was followed by a brief resurgence in Italian movies, as he appeared in several leading roles. He also appeared several times in the TV series Gunsmoke. However, Barrymore's social behavior obstructed any professional progress. In the 1960s, he was occasionally incarcerated for drug use, public drunkenness, and spousal abuse.[3][4]

He notably guest-starred in other memorable episodes of classic TV Westerns Rawhide – "Incident of The Haunted Hills" – playing a half-Native half-White outcast and Wagon Train – "The Ruttledge Munroe Story" – playing a "too cheerful" character who spreads death wherever he goes and turns out to be a figure from Major Adams's (Ward Bond) military past.

In 1966, Barrymore accepted a major guest role as Lazarus in the Star Trek episode "The Alternative Factor". However, he failed to show up (and was ultimately replaced at the last minute by actor Robert Brown), resulting in a SAG suspension of six months.[5] He did appear as Stacey Daggart in the 1966–67 NBC series The Road West, starring Barry Sullivan.


Although he continued to appear occasionally on screen, he became more and more reclusive. Suffering from the same problems that had destroyed his father, John Drew became a derelict. Estranged from his family, including his children, his lifestyle continued to worsen and his physical and mental health deteriorated.[6][7]

In 2003, daughter Drew Barrymore moved him near her home despite their estrangement, paying his medical bills until his death from cancer. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contributions to television.

Marriage and children[edit]

Barrymore married four times, and all four marriages ending in divorce. He married actress Cara Williams in 1952, they divorced in 1959. His fourth child, Drew Barrymore, became a successful film actress and producer.



  1. ^ According to the State of California. California Birth Index, 1905-1995. Center for Health Statistics, California Department of Health Services, Sacramento, California. Searchable at
  2. ^ John Drew Barrymore, 72; Troubled Heir to the Throne of the Royal Family of Acting, Los Angeles Times obituary, 1 December 2004
  3. ^ John Drew Barrymore, 72; Troubled Heir to the Throne of the Royal Family of Acting, Los Angeles Times obituary, 1 December 2004
  4. ^ John Drew Barrymore, 72, of Acting Clan, New York Times obituary, 1 December 2004
  5. ^ Solow, Herbert F. & Robert H. Justman "Inside Star Trek" ISBN 0-671-89628-8 pp. 201-202
  6. ^ John Drew Barrymore Actor son of John Barrymore who exceeded even his father's off-screen excesses, The Independent obituary, 1 December 2004
  7. ^ John Drew Barrymore dies, Sydney Morning Herald, 30 November 2004

External links[edit]