Home / Performers / Ethel Barrymore - Diva Image #5_profdash (Stage) [11]

Diva Image #5 Ethel Barrymore    Oct 15, '10 8:41 PM
by David for group historicalziegfeld Oct 15, 2010

In February 1901 Ethel Barrymore became a star, playing Madame Trentoni in the hit comedy "Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines." Actor-photographer, Burr McIntosh, who had long been a believer in Barrymore's talent, decided to make the 22 year old actress the beauty of the moment. Possessing more wisdom and gravitas than the typical ingenue, Barrymore didn't charm cameras, like her contemporary, Edna Wallace Hopper. Her patrician bearing and radiant healthiness posed a challenge for McIntosh. In three sittings--the first in January--the second in February--and the third in June--McIntosh gave her an aristocratic glamour, dressing her in fur, in a spectacular gown, and a salon dress. Her chignon hairdue and configuration were those of a Gibson Girl, but her mode of posing had none of the nonchalance of Charles Dana Gibson's creature. McIntosh's images proved a sensation, and Ethel was dubbed the first glamour girl by pundits in the press. Yet these pictures are not glamour shots. They created their aura by the old means pioneered by Sarony & Falk--by rich costuming, by dynamic posing, and my surrounding the sitter with objects betokening wealth, status, and accomplishment. Only in one respect do the images from these sittings anticipate the glamour photography to come, and that is in the candid eye engagement of Barrymore with the viewer of the photograph. Throughout her long career Barrymore cultivated photographers as friends. In the 1910s, Charlotte Fairchild, was her friend. In the 1930s, Mortimer Offner, fascinated her. Yet it was McIntosh who created for her a star image. David Shields


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