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From her struggle to reenter Hollywood to her many acclaimed movies, from a strained relationship with her mother and a failed marriage to a newfound sense of peace and enduring love, HAPPILY EVER AFTER offers a fascinating look at the troubled Little Girl Lost and the beautiful woman she grew up to be!
An unauthorized biography
From the Paperback edition.
Our first meeting with Drew Barrymore took place when we were still in grade school. Although that was some eighteen years ago, we remember that day as clearly as if it were yesterday. We piled into the backseat of our parents' navy blue Buick Skylark and headed for the movie theater to see E.T.--The Extra-Terrestrial.
Throughout the ride, all we could think about was the upcoming movie. We couldn't wait to get in our seats and see what all the kids in school had been talking about. At the time, we'd never heard the name "Drew
Barrymore" before. We didn't know who she was, what she looked like, or where she came from. All we cared about was that lovable alien who'd made such an impression on us during TV commercials for E.T.
The two magical hours that we spent in the theater that Sunday afternoon surpassed our wildest expectations.
As we stumbled out of our seats, trying to choke back the lumps in our throats and the tears in our eyes,
we knew that for as long as we lived, we would never forget either E.T., or the pudgy little blond girl who almost stole the show.Her name, of course, was Drew Barrymore.
While she might not have been the stuff of household conversation just yet, her face was permanently embedded in the mind of every man, woman, and child who'd seen Steven Spielberg's highest grossing movie to date,
Pretty soon, Drew was dubbed America's little darling and began popping up all over. When she starred in
1984's Irreconcilable Differences, we talked about going to see "the new Drew Barrymore movie." She was the first movie star with whom kids of a certain age could identify, the Shirley Temple of the 1980s, the cutest, the most famous, the best-loved kid in the U.S.,
perhaps the world.
President Reagan and the First Lady invited her to the White House. NBC put her front and center on the stage of Saturday Night Live. The Academy Awards and the Golden Globes saw her walking the red carpet year after year. Drew was always in the spotlight.
And then, just like that, she was gone. Not a snap-shot,
not a movie, not a word. Nothing.
In January 1989, she hadn't been out of circulation long enough for anyone to notice a conspicuous absence.
That's when the National Enquirer sounded the alarm: E.T. STAR IN COCAINE AND BOOZE CLINIC--AT 13!
Parents were horrified. Kids of all ages were dumb-founded.
"How could this have happened to our little
The scion of the Barrymore acting dynasty, Drew was nothing less than a national treasure. For generations,the Barrymores had been making headlines on the stage,
on the screen, and on the party circuit. Everyone knew of the illustrious family's personal woes, checkered with alcoholism and drug addiction. But Drew was supposed to be different. She'd spoken out against drug abuse. She'd starred in our favorite films. She'd captured our hearts as we watched her grow up. This wasn't supposed to happen to her.
As details of Drew's addiction began to leak out, the controversy wreaked havoc upon her image as a fun-loving but essentially down-to-earth child star.
Overnight, Drew became the poster girl for excess and teenage rebellion. She went from everyone's role model to public enemy number one. Indeed, prevailing wisdom suddenly dictated that Drew Barrymore was nothing more than a very bad girl.
It was Drew's darkest hour. When she got out of rehab,
no one wanted to hire her. Many of her old friends disappeared without a trace. Cast out of the industry,
Drew might have easily reverted to her old habits. But just as all signs pointed to what might have been another tragic ending in the Barrymore saga, Drew chose to do the unpredictable--she fought back.
At fourteen years of age, Drew Barrymore authored
Little Girl Lost, the autobiography that detailed her descent into and arduous climb out of the depths of despair.
The book was an instant best-seller, and Drew was back on top, a heroine to young adults nationwide.
That was more than ten years ago. Over the last decade Drew has worked steadily toward reclaiming the very fame, fortune, and respect that she'd been so quick to throw away as a child. The 1990s have been good to
Drew, and while this biography will recap some of the events narrated in Little Girl Lost, it is the new and triumphantly self-improved Drew who is the shining focus of Happily Ever After: The Drew Barrymore Story.
Dynasty . . . the word alone conjures up a parade of grandiose images, which is perhaps why so much has been made of Drew Barrymore's legacy. Her genealogy bears the honorable Barrymore coat of arms; her dominion is the world of stage and screen; her crown jewels are gold-plated Oscars and acclaimed films. To earn this distinction, she had only to be born. Not unlike
Prince William, Drew is the heir to a royal family throne. Indeed the Barrymores are called "The First
Family of the Theater." Most of us naturally assumed that with this throne came a fortune.
Hearing of Drew's celebrated lineage, we believed she was born with the proverbial silver spoon. "Hollywood royalty," they said, and we envisioned her coming of age on a sprawling Bel Air estate where a staff of servants was paid to cater to her every childish whim.
"Acting dynasty," they said, and we were led to understand that she was a princess and her life a fairy tale.
How were we to know the truth: Drew Barrymore was born into a single-parent household, a latch-key kid completely disconnected from the deceased ancestors who had so glorified her famous last name?
"Drew and I started with nothing but the clothes on my back,"
Drew's mother, Jaid Barrymore, said on This Evening with Judith Regan.
No family. No friends. No money. How had it come to this? Drew is the proud heiress of thoroughbred thespian bloodlines as pure as they are long. Reaching back into the 1800s, the glamour-personifying predecessors who informed Drew's talent were more than mere superstars.
For over a century, the Barrymores have represented
America's cultural aristocracy, that singularly charming,
witty, and talented coterie that best exemplifies all that is most noble and most eccentric about true greatness.
It's mind-boggling to consider how many books,
plays, and movies have been written to either spoof,
honor, or expose the ostentatious display of genius that is the Barrymore family. Awards and theaters have been named after this hallowed clan. The story behind the family tree, however, is as full of corkscrew twists and hairpin turns as is the history of Drew Barrymore's public persona.
The young star's name is itself no flight of fancy, no last minute caprice on the part of her parents. In fact,
every part of Drew Blythe Barrymore's auspicious moniker stems from a family surname. Drew is actually the maiden name of her great-grandmother Georgiana
Drew, a renowned stage actress who was born in 1854
to the equally lauded actors John and Louisa Lane
Drew of Philadelphia.
As the daughter of a celebrated husband-and-wife acting team, it is perhaps not surprising that Georgiana
(or Georgie as she was more commonly known) went on to marry one of the most respected performers of her day, Maurice Barrymore. Born Herbert Blythe in 1847,
Maurice came to the U.S. by way of Great Britain where he studied law at Cambridge. But donning the barrister's wig evidently failed to satisfy his flair for the dramatic;
he quit the profession, changed his name, and joined the theater. By 1875 he was in New York.
It was while working as a leading man at Augustin
Daly's theatrical company that Maurice met and fell in love with Georgie Drew. Within a year of his arrival in the U.S., the two were married. Countless rave reviews,
six years, and three children later, the future of the Barrymore legacy was secured. Lionel, Ethel, and John Barrymore--
never was so much raw acting talent assembled beneath one stage name. This is the triumvirate that would give the family its prominent place in performing arts history.
As the trio matured, so did their family's reputation.
The upper crust of New York society was just as smitten with the Barrymores as the theatergoing Philadelphians had been with the Drews. Horse-drawn carriages,
sparkling jewels, motley brocade gowns,
everything was beautiful at the playhouse. On the home front, however, the Barrymore life lost some of its luster.
Beset by Maurice's infidelity and alcoholism, the Barrymore marriage was not a happy one. By far the biggest blow to the family, however, came while Lionel, Ethel, and
John were still in their teens. At only thirty-seven years of age, their mother died of tuberculosis,
leaving her children to the care of their maternal grandmother,
Louisa Lane Drew, who along with her late husband managed to endow the children with just as many vices as talents.
Like his kindred spirit of a son-in-law, John Drew had been known for his prodigious drinking. So severe was his condition that he actually reveled his way into an early grave long before either Lionel, Ethel, or John were even born. Meanwhile Louisa Lane, the grande dame of a matriarch whom the grandkids called Mummum and loved like a mother, rarely lost her icy reserve and preached the virtues of this stoicism by withholding both her approval and her affection from the children. These heirlooms from the Drew branch of the family tree would go on to characterize the Barrymores' lives, as tales of their infamous aversion to emotional entanglements and their fatal penchant for drugs and drink would subsequently snowball to monstrous proportions.
Strangely enough, these proclivities would endure to affect Drew Barrymore's life just as surely as if she herself had been born some one hundred years earlier into the Philadelphia home of her great-great-grandparents.
The saga of the three Barrymores is now the stuff of
Hollywood legend. The Golden Age of American cinema wouldn't have been as bright had it not been for this troika of actors who rode the wave of filmmaking all the way from the silent screen to the talkies. Although today's generation of Barrymore fans might not know it, these were the Barrymores who made the real headlines and inspired awestruck mortals to pen so many documentaries, plays, books, and scripts.
From the Paperback edition.
Posted May 6, 2014
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