Georgiana Drew

Georgiana Emma Drew (July 11, 1856 – July 2, 1893), aka Georgie Drew Barrymore, was an American stage actress and comedienne and the matriarch of the Barrymore acting family.

    Life and career

    Georgiana 1880s

    Born in Philadelphia, her family — parents John Drew and Louisa Lane Drew, brothers John Drew, Jr. and Sidney, and sister Louisa — were all actors with the exception of Louisa. She made her theatrical debut in 1872 in The Ladies' Rattle. She followed John Jr. to New York, where she acted in many Broadway hits, such as Pique and As You Like It. In Pique she met a young English actor, Maurice Barrymore, whom she married on December 31, 1876. They had three children: Lionel, Ethel, and John. She is a great-grandmother and namesake of actress Drew Barrymore.

    According to a 2004 A&E Biography piece, the marriage, happy at first, became rocky as Maurice indulged in numerous affairs. Georgie even filed for divorce, but they reconciled. He asked her to tour with him and Helena Modjeska in a play he wrote. Learning that he and Helena had resumed their romance, Georgie, who had been given ownership of the play by Maurice, forced her hand by closing it. Helena's husband, its producer, sued her. The real reason for Georgie's actions never got into the press.

    In 1890, she had a great success in The Senator co-starring William H. Crane and, in 1891, as one of the two widows in Mr. Wilkinson's Widows. Her stage career at this time was being managed by a young up-and-coming producer named Charles Frohman. Frohman would play a big part in managing the early careers of her three children, as well as her brother John Drew. In December 1891, illness forced her to leave the stage. Suffering from what turned out to be tuberculosis then called "consumption", she traveled West in 1893 with Ethel to take a cure, but she died a few months later in Santa Barbara, California.Penicillin, which had yet to be invented, could have easily saved her life. Reportedly her last words were, "Oh my poor kids!, what shall ever become of them" were related to her son John in the 1920s by an elderly woman who had been staying at the same boarding house in Santa Barbara as Georgie and Ethel. It was 13-year-old Ethel's responsibility to see that her mother's remains were returned to Philadelphia for burial by Mrs Drew and Maurice, who met Ethel's train in Chicago. In 1893, this coast-to-coast journey would have lasted a week. All three of her children would die within a hundred miles of where their mother died at Santa Barbara back in 1893.



    • Encyclopædia Britannica

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