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About Rich Copley & Copious Notes

  • Raised by opera-loving parents in a rock ’n’ roll world, Rich Copley has parlayed his broad interests into his career writing about arts and entertainment. Since 1998, he has covered performing arts, film and faith-based popular culture for the Lexington Herald-Leader, the daily newspaper in Lexington, Ky. It’s a pretty broad beat, but Rich delights in finding influences of the past in the present and showing fine arts fans the value of pop culture, and vice versa. ~ Copious Notes is a blog covering that broad spectrum. If you want to read about specific areas of interest, such as theater or opera, click on one of the categories to the right and you will be whisked away to all posts in that category. Also, look around the blog for links; multimedia items such as photo albums, videos, and interviews with artists; and other nuggets. Have fun, and thanks for dropping in. The header for this blog was designed by Danny Kelly and the illustration was drawn by Camille Weber.

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June 22, 2008

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Jan & Noel Desiato

Hello Ed well quess what I married an actress and she's currently doing a one women show "Tea at Five" as Katherine Hepburn and is touring,email me back. Jan Desiato

Will Murphy

Mr Copley,
It is about time someone took note of this fine "old School" actor in our midst.

Think! If he had gone with Gleason to Florida Lexington would not have Barrymore (or his equivalent)

Too bad I am not near to cheer.
But Cheers to you for the article.

-=w=-

Charles Edward Pogue

I agree with Ed Desiato that an actor has only his own physical tools to limn a character. And more, can only utilize his own intellect, point-of-view, and emotional make-up and/or baggage to create the character. As Spencer Tracy used to say: "This is Spencer Tracy as a judge, This Spencer Tracy as a priest, this is Spencer Tracy as a reporter."

No actor can crawl inside the head of another human being and become them. Any time you meet an actor who tells you, "I WAS the character", lock 'im up...he's either delusional or psychotic.

Still and all, actors can often give a very good, emotionally complex impersonation of a real-life figure.

I was fortunate to see Christopher Plummer's Tony Award-winning performance of BARRYMORE and he was doing a bit more than just "playing himself". Being a Barrymore aficianado and collector (I prize my Haymarket Hamlet program), I felt Plummer more than passed my litmus test and gave an uncanny portrayal of a legendary figure I absolutely recognized.

I have fond memories of Errol Flynn's turn as Barrymore in the film TOO MUCH TOO SOON. Flynn, who had been an intimate of Barrymore in his declining days, had several eerie moments where he evoked the original.

Jack Cassidy, an actor with Barrymore's over-the-top panache, gave a respectible turn as The Great Profile in W.C. FIELDS & ME, if memory serves.

I've actually seen a stage protrayal of Barrymore where the actor was more interested in "playing himself" than in trying to capture the essence of Barrymore. It was a one-man show called JACK and starred Nicol Williamson as Barrymore in one of the sloppiest, most undisciplined, contempt-for-the-audience performances I've ever seen. It was quite apparent Mr. Williamson was far more enamoured of himself than Barrymore. There was no attempt to even remotely look like Barrymore, let alone capture him onstage. I think it might be the only time I've booed in a theatre. And booed loudly.

Mr. Plummer's performance, however, was incandescent...it was a night in the theatre I'll long remember and was a chance to see two artists onstage that I had long admired -- Christopher Plummer AND John Barrymore.

Although we unfortunately have no record of Barrymore in his prime onstage, below are some films that can give one a glimpse of the flickering flame that was his:

BELOVED ROGUE - Barrymore as swashbuckling poet Francois Villion. Silent movie.

DON JUAN - silent movie with the first syncronized music soundtrack.

COUNSELLOR-AT-LAW - terrific dramatic performance in screen version of Elmer Rice's play.

GRAND HOTEL - Barrymore with Garbo

DINNER AT EIGHT - Barrymore playing a washed-up actor in a role getting a little too close to home.

TWENTIETH CENTURY - Barrymore with Lombard, in a great comedy performance.

MIDNIGHT - Barrymore giving another droll comedy performance.


Books on Barrymore:

GOODNIGHT, SWEET PRINCE by Gene Fowler.

DAMNED IN PARADISE by John Kobler

THE BARRYMORES by James Kotdilibas-Davis (a noted scholar on the Barrymore family)

JOHN BARRYMORE, SHAKESPEAREAN ACTOR by Michael A. Morrison (a very detailed critical study of Barrymore's forays into the Bard...particularly his iconic performances of RICHARD III and HAMLET).

CONESSIONS OF AN ACTOR, a 1926 memoir by Barrymore himself.

Robert Parks Johnson

I will never forget the first night I saw Ed Desiato on stage. From his first step into the lights it was clear we were watching a man of the theatre playing among children.

When I have had the chance to work with him, I found him to be smart, insightful, funny, and brutally honest. He may not be a Barrymore, but he is the caliber of artist I could only dream of being. Ed is a treasure to our community and we are blessed to have a chance to see him play this troubled genius, even for three nights.

Break a leg, you old S.O.B.

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    October 2008

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