Today a brief update on our post from January (see here) about “Twentieth Century” (1934) and the train called “The 20th Century Limited”, and our lovable ne’r do well, John Barrymore.
Author John Kobler writes in his biography of John Barrymore, Damned in Paradise - The Life of John Barrymore (Athenaeum, NY 1977) of the eastbound trip on The 20th Century Limited Barrymore took for the re-opening of "Hamlet" on Broadway, around 1924, I think. Barrymore, of course was noted for his portrayal of Hamlet, but evidently never so cocky that he neglected to rehearse.
In a scene that might be straight out of “Twentieth Century”, author Kolber writes, “Ensconced in his stateroom aboard the eastbound Twentieth Century, John sent for two Pullman porters, old friends from previous trips. Handing one of them a book, he explained, ‘Now, this is really the skull of Yorick and you are the grave digger.’ And to the other, ‘You are Polonius.’ Fed his cues in this fashion, he rehearsed himself all the way across the continent.”
Actually, that would have been halfway across the continent, only from Chicago to New York, but the story proves both John Barrymore’s whimsical approach to his art, and the indispensability of the noble Pullman porter.