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Dolores Castello

How Did Dolores Costello’s Lisp Affect Her Career?

Dolores Costello was an American cinema actress who rose to popularity during the silent film period. Her first husband, actor John Barrymore, dubbed her The Goddess of the Silver Screen for her performances. Costello is also Drew Barrymore’s grandmother. But did you know how Costello’s lisp affected her career? 

Dolores Costello, Drew Barrymore’s grandmother, spoke with a lisp, which hampered her transition from silent to talking films. Drew Barrymore, has a lisp as well but still made it big in the industry.

Who is The Goddess of the Silent Screen? 

Dolores Costello, was an American actress born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1903. She had established herself as a well-known and respected figure in the cinema industry. She was at the zenith of her profession during the silent film period.

Helene, her younger sister, had her first film appearances as a child actor for the Vitagraph Film Company between 1909 and 1915. They appeared in several films with their father, a popular matinee idol at the time.

Dolores Costello was cast opposite John Barrymore in The Sea Beast, a loose adaptation of Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, in 1926, following modest roles in feature films. Warner soon began casting her in her pictures. In the meantime, she and Barrymore fell in love and married in 1928. 

I have just seen the most beautiful woman in the world. I shall not rest or eat until I have seen her again

John Barrymore

Their honeymoon was spent on his yacht, taking them to Panama, the Galapagos Islands, and Ecuador. Before coming to Hollywood and settling into a hilltop estate in Beverly Hills, they chased alligators and giant lizards and visited untamed regions of Central America.

Costello had become a film celebrity in her own right within a few years after attaining stardom. Her career progressed to the point that, in 1926, she was recognized as a WAMPAS Baby Star and earned the moniker The Goddess of the Silver Screen.

Costello moved between films with modern settings and extravagant costume play for Warner Bros. When a Man Loves, a version of Manon Lescaut, reunited her with John Barrymore in 1927. She co-starred with George O’Brien in Michael Curtiz’s part-talkie epic Noah’s Ark in 1928.

Following her participation in This is the Army which was released in 1943, and directed by Michael Curtiz, she retired from acting forever.

I never was completely happy, or fulfilled, when I was devoting all my life and energies to acting. I never walked out of a theater with that glow that I have heard other women describe that comes from the consciousness of having played a good role up to the hilt in a good picture. Besides, you must realize I never had much confidence in my ability.

Dolores Castello

(Source: New York Times

Why Did She Stop Acting? 

Following the birth of her first child, Dolores Ethel Mae Dee Dee Barrymore, on April 8, 1930, her acting profession became less of a priority for her, and she resigned from the film in 1931 to spend more time with her family.

John Drew Barrymore, her second child, was born on June 4, 1932, but the marriage was troubled by her husband’s developing alcoholism, and they divorced in 1935. (Source: New York Times

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