Most people probably know that Drew Barrymore became a household name for her role as Gertie in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial when she was just 5 years old. These days — following a rough patch in her childhood and into her 20s — Drew is an accomplished actress, director, producer, entrepreneur, and talk show host. What many might not realize, however, is that Drew was born into a dynasty of actors. Keep reading to learn more about her parents.
Drew Barrymore's parents are John Drew Barrymore and Jaid Barrymore.
Drew's parents are American actor John Drew Barrymore and aspiring actress Jaid Barrymore — who was born Ildikó Jaid Makó in a displaced persons camp in Wet Germany to Hungarian World War II refugees. Her parents were married from 1971 to 1984; they divorced when Drew was 9.
On Drew's father's side of the family, all of her great-grandparents (Maurice and Georgie Drew Barrymore, and Maurice and Mae Costello) and her grandparents, John Barrymore and Dolores Costello, were actors. Out of her three older half-siblings through her father, her brother John Blyth Barrymore is also an actor. So it makes sense that Drew ended up in Hollywood, too.
Drew Barrymore's estranged father struggled with alcohol and drug addiction.
Drew's father struggled with addiction throughout his life. He was sent to prison for possession of drugs after a car crash in 1967 and again in 1969. By the mid-70s, he had stopped acting. Drew's mother ultimately kicked him out of the house because of his drug addiction, and he remained estranged from his children.
In 2003, Drew moved her father near her home as his health had been deteriorating. She paid his medical bills until he died from cancer at age 72 in 2004.
In a 2020 Father's Day tribute to her dad, Drew touched upon the imperfect relationship she had with her father.
"My mom chose a wild card for my dad. He was a mad poet hedonist man child!" she wrote via Instagram. "But I understood that as a kid. Somehow I have zero baggage or dad issues. I think I would have liked to have a dad who didn’t look so out there. Or who stayed. Or was capable of anything really. But his wildness runs through me. His gifts are here. His demons to overcome are mine to break!"
Drew continued, "Both my parents have played a major role in who I am as a parent. And none of it looks perfect. But it functions with so much love. And togetherness. And availability. I don’t have a picture of a dad today to show how great everything was. I have a picture to show what it was. And that is my story. And that is perfect in itself. My dad gave me the gift of life! A wicked sense of humor! And that wildness that I truly do cherish."
Drew Barrymore's mother sent her to a psychiatric hospital for 18 months when she was 13.
Jaid started regularly taking Drew to Studio 54 when she was only 9 years old; it was there where Drew was introduced to drugs. By the time Drew was 12, she had already been through rehab. At 13, she again started treatment for alcohol and drug addiction — but this time via an 18-month psychiatric hospital stay.
After Drew was discharged from the psychiatric hospital, she became emancipated at age 15 — something she elaborated on in her memoir Wildflower, per The Guardian.
"On the day of my hearing, my mother was there in full support of my emancipation, which would mean me living on my own. I felt so sad, but too much had happened," she wrote. "The judge walked in and the day went on in a blur. People testified, but it wasn’t heavy or dark. It was a way to ask, 'Should this kid become an adult?'"
Drew continued, "At the end of the day, the judge looked at me and said these words, which stuck with me: 'I can turn the clock forward, but I can never turn it back. Are you ready for that?''
'Yes,' I said.
'OK,' he said with a slight smile, 'I hereby pronounce you an adult.'”
Drew hardly spoke to her mother for years after that. — however, it seems the actress has since forgiven Jaid for her parenting missteps.
"She probably felt like she had nowhere to turn," Drew told Howard Stern in February 2021, of her mother's decision to send her to a psychiatric hospital. "And I'm sure she lived with a lot of guilt for years, about creating the monster but then I think she lived in a lot of pain that I also wouldn't talk to her for a long time."
She continued, "I can't have her feel bad anymore. I'm sure she's already made the crap out of herself for having a daughter who wouldn't speak to her. I mean, the pain that I went through from that — I felt so guilty. Denying my mom access to me, it felt like I was cutting off the source of life. It was as hard of a feeling as I've ever experienced. Definitely the worst pain I've ever known."
Hopefully, Drew's relationship with her mother is much better today.