Drew Barrymore half-sister Jessica Barrymore found dead near San Diego
Drew Barrymore’s half-sister Jessica Barrymore was found dead in her car early Tuesday, July 29, in National City, located between San Diego and Chula Vista in Southern California. Jessica Barrymore (née Brahma [Jessica] Blyth Barrymore) would have turned 48 on Thursday, July 31.
According to a witness, Jessica Barrymore, who worked at a Petco store, was found reclined in the driver’s seat, with a drink between her legs. White pills were seen scattered on the passenger seat. Despite online rags reporting either that Drew Barrymore’s half-sister committed suicide or died from a drug overdose, the official cause of death hasn’t been announced. As per the Los Angeles Times, an autopsy will be performed in the next few days.
In a statement published in the gossip magazine People, Drew Barrymore, 39, said she had “only met her [sister Jessica] briefly.” Their father was John Drew Barrymore, who died of cancer at age 72 in November 2004. Barrymore, whose acting career was derailed by bouts of alcoholism and drug abuse, was notably featured in Joseph Losey’s film noir The Big Night (1951), opposite Joan Lorring, and had a key supporting role in Fritz Lang’s noir drama While the City Sleeps (1956), starring Dana Andrews, Rhonda Fleming, and Ida Lupino.
Jessica Barrymore’s mother is former actress Nina Wayne, who is reportedly in ill health. Wayne, whose handful of movie and television credits include Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round (1966), The Comic (1969), and a Bewitched episode, was the sister of comedienne Carol Wayne, who died in 1985. And if online reports are to be believed, Nina Wayne lost to Raquel Welch the female lead role in Richard Fleischer’s sci-fi classic Fantastic Voyage (1966).
Drew Barrymore’s mother is Jaid Barrymore, John Drew Barrymore’s third wife. His other two wives were minor actress Gabriella Palazzoli and Cara Williams, a 1958 Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominee for Stanley Kramer’s The Defiant Ones.*
Drew Barrymore has been featured in nearly 50 films. Most notable among them are Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), as Henry Thoma’s little sister; Joel Schumacher’s Batman Forever (1995), as Sugar; Frank Coraci’s box office hit The Wedding Singer (1998), opposite Adam Sandler; and McG’s big-screen version of Charlie’s Angels (2000), co-starring Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu. Barrymore’s most recent movie was the spring 2014 release Blended, which reunited her with The Wedding Singer director Coraci and co-star Sandler, but with less felicitous box office results.
On television, Drew Barrymore co-starred with Jessica Lange in Michael Sucsy’s well-received drama Grey Gardens (2009). For her efforts, Barrymore took home a SAG Award for Best Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries and a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television.
The Barrymore and Costello families
On their father’s side, the grandparents of both Drew Barrymore and Jessica Barrymore were John Barrymore, a stage and screen superstar from the early 1900s to the early 1930s, and Dolores Costello, a top Warner Bros. leading lady in the late 1920s.
Among John Barrymore’s movie credits are Alan Crosland’s Don Juan (1926), the first feature film to employ a synchronized sound system, and Edmund Goulding’s Grand Hotel (1932), the Best Picture Academy Award winner for the period 1931-32, and officially Hollywood’s first all-star production: Barrymore’s co-stars were Greta Garbo, Wallace Beery, Joan Crawford, and brother Lionel Barrymore – the Best Actor Academy Award winner for the period 1930-31, for his performance as Norma Shearer’s father in Clarence Brown’s A Free Soul. Their sister, Broadway grand dame Ethel Barrymore, won the 1944 Best Supporting Actress Oscar for playing Cary Grant’s mother in Clifford Odets’ drama None But the Lonely Heart. Ethel would be nominated for three other Best Supporting Actress Oscars (Robert Siodmak’s The Spiral Staircase, 1946; Alfred Hitchcock’s The Paradine Case, 1947; and Elia Kazan’s Pinky, 1949.)
Dolores Costello, who was featured opposite John Barrymore in Millard Webb’s The Sea Beast (a 1926 version of Moby Dick) and Alan Crosland’s When a Man Loves (a 1927 version of Manon Lescaut), is best remembered for playing the matriarch in Orson Welles’ 1942 Best Picture Oscar nominee The Magnificent Ambersons.
The Barrymore-Costello families also include memoirist and actress Diana Barrymore (Nightmare, Ladies Courageous), half-sister of John Drew Barrymore, and the subject of Art Napoleon’s 1958 drama Too Much Too Soon, starring Errol Flynn (as John Barrymore) and Dorothy Malone (as Diana); stage legend Maurice Barrymore, father or John, Lionel, and Ethel; Helene Costello, Dolores Costello’s sister and the leading lady in the first all-talking feature film, Bryan Foy’s Lights of New York (1928); and vaudeville and screen star Maurice Costello, whose film credits include early versions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1909) and A Tale of Two Cities (1911).
* This article initially stated that John Drew Barrymore and Nina Wayne were never married. Several sources since, possibly using Wikipedia as a source, state that Barrymore and Wayne were married in 1985 and divorced in 1994. In some instances, when the marriage date is unspecified, Wayne is referred as either Barrymore’s third or fourth wife.
Drew Barrymore’s half-sister Jessica Barrymore photo via 10News.