Things I Learned After Reading That New Yorker Story About the Missing Totem Pole

  1. In 1929, John Barrymore built a sailing yacht that housed a fireplace, parlor, and grand piano.
  2. As a child, John Barrymore was allowed by the Central Park Zookeeper to go inside the tiger enclosure because he loves the great cat, and the great cat loved him.
  3. Later, John Barrymore had a pet monkey named Clementine who had her own attendant.
  4. John Barrymore also had a king vulture named Maloney who liked to groom Barrymore’s moustache with its beak.
  5. The Tlinglit -- "people of the tides" -- had clans called Raven Dog Salmon and Wolf Killer Whale and believed that animals were their "spiritual patrons."
  6. Vincent Price was a forward-thinking collector of Abstract Expressionists, among other modernists.
  7. Vincent Price bought Bella Vista, the 35-room residence in Bel Air from the Barrymores, who had bought it from King Vidor, who built it.
  8. Later, E. Gary Gygax (yup, I am including the E.) rented that mansion when he came to Hollywood a millionaire from Dungeons and Dragons and tried to bring fantasy to the mainstream. (Actually, I knew that one already.)
  9. During World War II, John Barrymore's yacht was conscripted into service by the Navy and rechristened the USS Amber (PYc-6).
  10. Barrymore made half a million dollars in 1930 from playing Svengali. And did you know that Svengali, a term I use often, was in fact an anti-Semitic caricature, like a mystical Shylock? Me neither. Will still say Svengali a lot.
  11. Barrymore also had some Ecuadorean shrunken heads and a dinosaur egg.