Diana, Goddess of the Highball

Oh, the alcoholic. The only thing more predictable than the alcoholic is the child of an alcoholic. Resistance is futile. Maybe it’s your juice-damaged genes. Maybe it’s that, after a childhood of abuse and emotional neglect, you just need to share that special feeling with others. Nature or nurture, the events of your life are as precisely mapped as moves on the GAOTU’s tessellated historyboard.

Diana “Too Much Too Soon” Barrymore was no exception. John Barrymore was a kind and caring father, when he wasn’t drunk, which wasn’t often. After he died in ’42 Diana became an actor and an alkie just like daddy. By ’47, after a series of minor film roles, she was off on an alcoholiday with husband number two of her three failed marriages, brawling and slapping cops and generally putting the fun in functional alcoholic, just baby steps on her path to sanitariums and suicide attempts.

The Happy Couple, under arrest:

Diana pens TMTS and sees it made into a feature in ’58; its most truthful element being Errol Flynn cast as boozehound John Barrymore (the bottle killed Flynn a year later). Despite the picture’s Hollywood ending—she’s on the road to recovery!—Diana finally offs herself in 1960 at age 38. When life hands you a lemon, make lemonade. And put plenty of gin in it. And use it to wash down all the sleeping pills in your medicine cabinet.

“What the hell would I want with a dozen gladioli when I could have four roses?”

(Yes, Diana was the sister of John Jr., the rageful child-beating drunk who whupped Drew “Little Girl Lost” Barrymore as a toddler. Drew became a preteen addict, but has thankfully since fallen under the sway of a famous womanizing, stock-swindling, acid-dropping midcentury occultist mysteriously named “Bill W.”)