Actress. She was the daughter of actor John Barrymore, half-sister of actor John Barrymore, Jr. and the aunt of actress Drew Barrymore. While in her teens, Barrymore decided to study acting and enrolled at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Because of the prominence of the Barrymore name in the world of theatre, her move onto the stage began with much publicity including a 1939 cover of Life. At age 19, Barrymore made her Broadway debut and the following year made her first appearance in movies with a small role in a Warner Bros. production. In 1942, she signed a contract with Universal Studios who capitalized on her Barrymore name with a major promotion campaign billing her as "1942's Most Sensational New Screen Personality." However, alcohol and drug problems soon emerged and negative publicity from major media sources dampened her prospects. After less than three years in Hollywood, and six significant film roles at Universal, Barrymore's personal problems ended her career. Her father died in 1942 from cirrhosis of the liver after years of alcoholism. Barrymore's life became a series of alcohol- and drug-related disasters marked by bouts of severe depression that resulted in several suicide attempts and extended sanitarium stays. She squandered her movie earnings and her inheritance from her father's estate, and when her mother died in 1950, Diana was left with virtually nothing from a once-vast family fortune. In 1949, she was offered her own television talk show titled The Diana Barrymore Show. The show was set to broadcast, but Barrymore didn't show up, and the program was immediately canceled. Had she gone through with the show, it would have been the first talk show in television history, predating Joe Franklin by two years. In the early 1950s, she and third husband toured Australia and upon returning to the United States, she expressed her dislike for the continent. After three bad marriages to addicted and sometimes abusive men, in 1955 Barrymore had herself hospitalized for nearly a full year of treatment. In 1957, she published her autobiography, Too Much, Too Soon, with help and encouragement from ghostwriter Gerold Frank, which included her portrait painted by Spurgeon Tucker. In July 1957, she promoted the book by appearing on Mike Wallace's TV show The Mike Wallace Interview. The following year, Warner Bros. made a film with the same title starring Dorothy Malone as Barrymore and Errol Flynn as her father.
Bio by: Ola K Ase