A "genius" actor and wit who re-invented Shakespeare on the American stage, John Barrymore's career slipped away through self-inflicted illness.

When a doctor suggested he cut back on wine, women and song, Barrymore famously retorted: "Fine, then I shall give up singing."

An amiable drunk, he once declared that he had enough money to last him for the rest of his life as long as he died immediately.

He also claimed that his troubles had come "not from chasing women, but from catching them".

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