Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Baseball Fan Ethel Barrymore at the Court Square Theater

April 28th fell on a Wednesday in 1943, as it does this year. For one day only, Ethel Barrymore and the New York cast of “The Corn is Green” played at the Court Square Theater in Springfield, Massachusetts.

The play had been the triumph of the 1940-41 Broadway season. John Mason Brown of the New York Post described opening night, when “The bravos which filled the theater at the final curtain were deafening and prolonged. There was every reason for them because Ethel Barrymore gives the finest, most thoughtful and concentrated performance she has given in many years.”

Miss Barrymore played 461 performances in the role on Broadway before starting her nationwide tour, and by this time travel was subject to wartime restrictions.

After the war Ethel Barrymore returned to Hollywood and a busy second career as a character actress. Since baseball is a recurring theme on my other blogs this week, Another Old Movie Blog, and New England Travels, we might mention here that Ethel Barrymore was an avid baseball fan. Author Hollis Alpert in “The Barrymores” (The Dial Press, New York, 1964) notes that while on movie sets, in between takes she would “hurry to her dressing room, where she would listen to ball games on her radio. She rooted less for single teams than for individual players, and when there was not a major league game to listen to would settle for the Coast League games.”

At this stage of her life, she preferred freelancing rather than signing on with a single studio. Her reasoning was, “The first thing I know they would be lending me out for a lot of money and a couple of outfielders.”

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