A poor-man’s Barrymore. I’ve said it, I’ve read it, you’ve probably thought it. It’s the easiest way to explain Warren William to the uninitiated, even if it is kind of a back-handed compliment.
Well, I came across it again, in an article titled “William’s Dislikes” from the May 29, 1932 Sunday edition of the San Antonio Express newspaper. The funny thing about the little column is that William doesn’t mind the Barrymore comparisons so much, but the article notes that two things he specifically does dislike are the game of bridge and being mistaken for an Englishman.
Of the great Barrymore, William says he’s already used to it:
“You see,” says William calmly, displaying a 12-year-old newspaper clipping, “this has been going on for years. I don’t mind it anymore.”
The clipping is a review of one of his first shows, with the comment by Alexander Woolcott that he has “…a Barrymore accent in his speech and a Barrymore tone in his voice and he looks the very image of the young John Drew …”
The article ends a bit abuptly with an out of place note about William hoping to make enough money to retire to the South Seas.
The thing is, I only really paid attention to his slight resemblance to John Barrymore after I kept reading it everywhere. They do have a similar screen persona, but where Barrymore was suave and somewhat hammy, William was tough and intense. But I’m glad I found this blog, Warren William is one of my new screen obsessions. *g*
Cliff Aliperti says
I kind of saw it, but didn’t really dwell on it, but then you’re right, it’s mentioned EVERYWHERE, so eventually it creeps into your mind.
I found it very interesting that the comparison dogged him from his earliest days on the stage though! I kind of always assumed it was a Hollywood thing.
Thanks for commenting!
Vincent Childress says
I was watching TCM, the 1930s Imitation of Life, and I was like, I didn’t think John Barrymore was in this film. I googled William vs Barrymore n found you all.