On February 15th… An Early Screen Holmes is Born

“Even a master detective may lose his heart.” [Lobby card for Sherlock Holmes (1922)]
Future famous screen Holmes John Barrymore was born John Sydney Blyth (or possibly Blythe, spellings vary) in Philadelphia, PA, on February 15, 1882. His parents, Maurice and Georgiana Blyth(e), were well-known actors under the stage name of Maurice and Georgiana Barrymore. John and his two older siblings, Lionel and Ethel, also took their parents’ stage name as they began their own theater careers. Generations of Barrymores have been famous actors, including John’s son, John Drew Barrymore, and grandaughter, Drew Barrymore.

The senior John Barrymore became famous for us in 1922, when he starred in the silent movie SHERLOCK HOLMES. (The film was released in the UK under the title MORIARTY.) John Barrymore said that his film, based on the William Gillette play would bring out the more romantic side of Holmes. (Alice Faulkner, the love interest introduced in Gillette’s play, was portrayed by silent film star Carol Dempster.) Any of our readers out there feel that is so?

In 1920, Barrymore starred in DR JEKYLL AND MR HYDE. Reportedly, in comparing his roles in the two films, he said:

“Holmes is a purely static person: by that I mean a character with practically no emotions. It is naturally more difficult to play a man with no emotions than to play a man with emotions, and one must continually vary the character to make it interesting.”

[I can’t find any source for this other than a list of Barrymore quotations on IMDB; if you know where it’s from, please let me know in the comments! –Selena Buttons]

What do you think?

My source for this information comes from A Curious Collection of Dates by Leah Guinn (“Amber”) and Jaime N. Mahoney (“Tressa”). [Additional biographical and film history information from IMDB –Selena Buttons]