Royal Reels: Gambling


A very ordinary cover, with no postal history value, has a pair of red 1½d KGV heads cancelled with an ADELAIDE/ 5 AM/16 JLY/1928/ SOUTH AUSTRALIA postmark (Figure 1).

The addressee is Miss Dolores Costello, Warner Studios, Hollywood, California who was once known as the “Goddess of the Silent Screen”. She was born 17 September 1903 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Maurice and May Costello and she died 1 March 1977 in Fallbrook, California. Dolores appeared in numerous films throughout the 1910’s and the early 1920’s mostly with her father and sister, Helene. She appeared on the New York stage in 1924 with her sister in the “George White Scandals”. They were both signed on to Warner Bros. where Dolores met her future Husband, John Barrymore.

Barrymore made Dolores his co-star in “The Sea Beast” in 1926. They married in 1928 despite the misgivings of her mother, who died the following year. They had 2 children DeDe in 1931 and John Drew Barrymore the following year. Dolores took time off from her movie career in the early 1930’s, and Helene convinced Dolores to divorce Barrymore in 1935 mainly because of his drinking.

After the divorce she continued to act in several big budget films (“Little Lord Fauntleroy” 1936, “The Magnificent Ambersons” 1942 and “This is the Army” 1943), and her career seemed to be back on track. She appeared in almost 50 films that spanned a career which lasted over 30 years. She had made a somewhat smooth transition to sound films, in spite of a lisp that a speech pathologist took 2 years to correct. A picture of Dolores in her heyday is shown in Figure 2.

The makeup applied to her skin on her cheeks caused the skin to deteriorate which forced her into early retirement. She moved out of the film colony and lived alone on her avocado farm in Fallbrook, California. Sadly a lot of the memorabilia and important documents of the Barrymore and Costello families were destroyed in a flood.

Warner Brothers Studios, one of Hollywood’s most famous studios, was founded in 1923 by four brothers, Jack, Sam, Harry and Albert Warner. The siblings never seemed to get along with each other, but the Studios managed to produce some of the most memorable movies in the history of Hollywood, including the world’s first “talkie” with Al Jolson in the “Jazz Singer” in 1927. The first Warner Bros studio where this film was made was located in Hollywood, on Sunset Boulevard.

Categories: Arts and Artists