9. Actor Maurice Barrymore Went Insane From Syphilis
Herbert Blythe, who went by Maurice Barrymore, was born in India in 1849 to a father who worked for the British East India Company. He was sent to get an education at Oxford, where his parents hoped that he would study law. However, much to their chagrin, Barrymore found his calling in the theater and began what would become a family dynasty. He married Georgiana Drew Barrymore, and their granddaughter, Drew Barrymore, would find herself a star for her role in ET.
Maurice never did become a star, though he played plenty of side roles and even tried his hand at screenwriting. However, his penchant for acting got passed down to his granddaughter, who has lived most of her life in the limelight.
His acting career may have been stymied by one of history’s archnemeses: syphilis. A bout of insanity during a performance, in which he delivered a “blasphemous attack on the Jews,” led to him being diagnosed in 1901, at the age of 52. The rest of his life was spent in institutions, in which he, in melodramatic fashion (though not acting) fought the aides attending to him and even attempted to strangle his daughter. Fortunately, granddaughter Drew is not known to have the disease that incapacitated him.