This candid, sympathetic account of Barrymore's life is written from the background of long friendship and understanding and constitutes an intimate portrait of mischief without malice, of headstrong emotions, of tempests, arrogance, humor, restlessness, caprice and courage, and all component parts of his personality and career. A thorough, anecdoted history of Barrymore's rise, decline and fall, rooted in a rich family heritage, a childhood in Philadelphia, efforts to escape the claim of theatre. His memorable attitudes originated in his youth and developed cyclonically; his four marriages furthered his legend, as his professional acclaim enlarged, diminished, enlarged again and eventually perished. Irrepressible, neither financial nor marital disasters could keep him down, even to the end when mind and body could hardly function. Watched over, cared for and loved by Ethel, Lionel and his friends, the inner drive of the man and his epic disregard for reputation, health and career, brought fame achieved and fame lost. A tribute, not less worthy because written from love -- to man and actor.