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Q: So you did consider careers outside of entertaining?
A: I actually disappeared into technology for 20 years. It was very good for me. I raised three kids in Silicon Valley. I made a ton of money. Of course, I spent more than I made. It was very good for me.
Q: So your family doesn’t have money?
A: My grandfather, John [Sidney Blyth] Barrymore, lived on the top of a mountain in Beverly Hills, seven acres, seven buildings, an estate at the top of Benedict Canyon. He had a 110-foot three-masted schooner and a 75-foot yacht and when he died he was sleeping on [somebody’s] couch. He didn’t have a nickel to his name. John Barrymore, being of sound mind, spent it! Sorry kids. I grew up in Beverly Hills because my mother did fairly well as an actor (she never wanted to be an actor), and her third husband did very well as a real estate broker. They weren’t filthy stinking rich. There’s an old saying, “I spent most of my money on booze, drugs and chasing women and the rest of it I wasted.” I think my grandfather is an example of that. After his fourth divorce, in those days the man paid for everything, I believe his quote was: What’s left for Barrymore?
My father [John Blyth Barrymore Jr aka John Drew Barrymore] also quit acting at the top of his game when there were plenty of people willing to hire him for entirely different reasons. They were divorced.
Q: In ‘Inheritance’ is anybody in a wheelchair pushed downstairs, as happened to your great-aunt Ethel Barrymore in “Kind Lady”?
A: There were certainly plenty of people who wanted to push Ethel down the stairs. She was after all president of Actors’ Equity for a while. Of course, Ethel never sold out to Hollywood. She didn’t have to because I can’t remember if it was her or her daughter who married Samuel Colt IV. So her grandchildren are the only ones with money. Weapons manufacturing is far more lucrative than any aspect of the film industry or movie business or theater could ever be.
Q: Your grandfather was “The Great Profile”?
A: So they say. It’s always the left side [he demonstrated, while pronouncing profile “pro-feel”]. I’m convinced it’s the East Indian in us. Even though my grandfather was very sallow, as soon as he got in the sun he turned beetle brown. That aquiline nose, that classic profile; I’m convinced it’s the East Indian.
Q: You a left or right side profile, for your best look?
A: It’s always left side.
Interviews are edited. To contact C.J. try firstname.lastname@example.org and to see her watch Fox 9’s “Buzz.”