The Barrymore siblings – Ethel, John, and Lionel – were renowned actors in the early days of film. Even today, there are a lot of people who are familiar with their names and movies.

I know very little about their lives. Mostly, I’ve read about John Barrymore, because of his relationship with Evelyn Nesbit in the early 1900s.

John was the youngest of three children born to Maurice and Georgie Drew, who were successful stage actors. The Barrymore family was very successful on the stage but John, Lionel, and Ethel made the leap into early film.

John met Evelyn before his film days; at the time, he was attempting a career as a cartoonist. Back then, everyone called him Jack. He and and Evelyn were nearly the same age but her career as a show girl and a model was at its height while Jack seemed to be floundering in his artistic pursuits.

Stanford White, the man who haunted and shaped Evelyn’s life despite being more than 30 years her senior, was very jealous of Jack. He financially supported her family and he pressured her to turn down his proposal. This marked the beginning of a downward spiral for Evelyn, but Jack’s ascent had not yet started.

Evelyn Nesbit and Jack Barrymore

 

The only other personal thing I about Jack Barrymore is that his last words are often quoted as, “Die? I should say not, dear fellow. No Barrymore would allow such a conventional thing to happen to him.” The day after his death, however,  John Barrymore’s last words were reported as, “This is wonderful! What a wonderful place!”

Tonight I was looking at photographs of Jack and his family and how glamorous they were… I’m sure they led fascinating lives but without knowing their stories, I appreciate what you can tell about them through their pictures. All of them seemed to exude Presence. I mean that each of them seem to command the energy in a room, probably Jack’s sister Ethel most of all.

I was ready to post this and saw that there was a signed photo of each of them. I’ve studied graphology on my own and their signatures interested me. Scroll down to see a signed photo of each of them, and a quick analysis of their signatures!

 

Jack’s parents, Maurice and Georgie Drew

 

 

Jack Barrymore’s father Maurice. He looks a lot like Tucker Carlson to me. Do you see it?
Jack’s mother, Georgie Drew
Jack, smoking a pipe!
Ethel Barrymore
Jack’s brother, Lionel Barrymore
Jack in 1907
Lionel Barrymore
Jack, with his wife Delores Costello
Ethel Barrymore

 

You see the Presence?
John, Ethel, and Lionel Barrymore with their family

 

So, what can we tell from the Barrymores’ signatures? A lot!

I’ve studied graphology on my own. Your handwriting says a lot about you! When we look at the signatures of these famous siblings, you should know that signatures are treated differently than everything else you write. When a person writes his name, they are telling you how they believe (or sometimes want to believe) they are seen by other people. The rest of the script tells you what that person cares about, how they think, how impulsive and intense they are, and a lot more. Most people’s signatures do not match their script.

The signature shows the “image” each of the siblings has of themselves.  Take a look and I will explain after the last picture.

Ethel Barrymore’s signature
Lionel’s signature
Jack’s signature

 

Based on her signature, Ethel was a big personality, an extrovert. She would have dominated the energy in any room she was in, whether she was speaking or not. And she would have liked it that way. Her signature suggests someone who was very imaginative.  When she took action in her own life, it would have been Big and Bold. She would have preferred looking to the future and big plans over the realities of the present. She would have liked to talk about concepts and theories but quickly lost patience with a lot of detail.

Her brother Lionel was also an extrovert, but a very different personality. His signature is the writing of a happy guy who liked to be in the middle of things – a “people person”. Unlike his sister, he wouldn’t be too preoccupied with the future and bold visions. He was probably someone who found a lot of joy and meaning in the present. He was cheerful and adaptable, but probably appreciated detail and order.

Jack’s signature is very different from those of Lionel and Ethel. He has an introvert’s signature, and it suggests a man who might have shrank back from other people yet cared about his image very much. If Ethel liked broad horizons,  Jack liked microscopic detail. He was precise and might have been known to attach a lot of importance to relatively minor conversations or events. He wouldn’t have been able to let things go. His signature looks like a man who had some temper and tended to brood but also the writing of a man who was almost tragically hard on himself.

 

This is Part III of Evelyn Nesbit’s story. (Read Part I and Part II.)

Evelyn Nesbit married Harry Kendall Thaw at age 20, 18 months after she accused him of beating and raping her, while holding her prisoner for weeks in an Austrian castle.

At 17, Evelyn underwent an emergency operation for appendicitis. That was the official story, though it was rumored then and now that she had an abortion. While she was recovering, Harry Thaw convinced Mrs. Nesbit that her daughter’s return to health could be accelerated by a trip abroad. Chaperoned by herself, of course.

Whether Evelyn wanted to go to Europe is not clear. But in May 1903, the trio embarked for London aboard the S.S. New York. After a few weeks, they moved on to Paris. Within a short time, Harry escorted the Nesbits to Boulogne, but he returned to London. Then he came back and took Evelyn and her mother back to Paris, and then back to London.

Paris, 1903
Paris, 1903

Evelyn was frail, and the hectic pace did not give her an opportunity to recover. Mrs. Nesbit was tired and exasperated. Mother and daughter quarreled in London, and Evelyn boldly returned to Paris alone with Harry. The division between them was deep. Mrs. Nesbit sent an urgent request across the Atlantic, requesting the funds to come home. The response from Stanford White was swift, and Mrs. Nesbit set sail for New York less than a week later. She soon remarried, and did not see Evelyn again for many years.

Evelyn Nesbit
Evelyn Nesbit in 1902

Now posing as Mr. and Mrs. Dellis, Harry and Evelyn stayed for a while in Paris. It was there that a fateful conversation occurred. Harry Thaw again asked Evelyn to marry him. She declined, but this time she felt she owed him an explanation and told Harry she was not “pure”. Thaw questioned Evelyn in painful detail, insisting she repeat what happened with Stanford White again and again. He raged against White, against Mrs. Nesbit, against Evelyn. He cried and tore at his hair. Then he demanded they continue their trip.

Evelyn later explained what followed:

“After traveling for about five or six weeks, the said Thaw rented a castle in the Austrian Tyrol known as the Schloss Katzenstein, which is situated about half way up a very isolated mountain… 

Schloss Katzenstein
Schloss Katzenstein

I saw a butler, a cook, and a maid. They were the only servants there. We occupied one entire end of the castle… The first night we reached the Schloss Katzenstein I was very tired and went to bed right after dinner. In the morning I was awakened by Mr. Thaw…

“He said he wished to tell me something and asked me to step into my bedroom. I entered the bedroom, when Thaw without any provocation grasped me by the throat.

“I saw by his face that he was in a dreadfully excited condition. His eyes were glaring and his hands grasped a raw-hide whip. He seized hold of me, placed his fingers in my mouth and tried to choke me. He then without the slightest provocation inflicted on me several severe blows with the rawhide whip, so severely that my skin was cut and bruised.

“I begged him to desist, but he refused. I shouted and I cried. He stopped then for a minute to rest, and then renewed his attack on me, beating me with the rawhide whip.

“I screamed for help, but no one heard me… Thaw renewed his brutal attacks until I was unable to move. The following morning the said Thaw administered another castigation similar to the day before. He took the rawhide whip and belabored me unmercifully…

“He left me in a frightful condition. My fingers were numb, and it was nearly three weeks before I sufficiently recovered to get out of my bed and walk.

(more…)

Late on the night of June 25, 1906, architect Stanford White passed suddenly and violently out of life and into legend. He was 52 years old.

Stanford White
Stanford White

Stanford White shone in his personal and professional life. He was well-known for his work, his generosity, and his charm. He lived in a decadent home, filled with oil paintings and rich decor. He had powerful connections who could help him overcome any scrape he got into.

These connections were essential to the darker side of “Stanny” because he was a predator who set his sights on adolescent girls. He would “ruin them” then move to the next victim. Today, he could not enjoy celebrity and continue his intrigues, undetected. But maybe he wouldn’t have cared – everyone who knew of White’s unsavory activities only admired him more.

Evelyn Nesbit
Evelyn Nesbit

White’s most famous conquest was a chorus girl named Evelyn Nesbit. Their relationship began when Nesbit was 16 and White was 47. Eventually Stanford bored of Evelyn and moved on, but the seeds had been sewn for a bitter harvest.

(more…)