Dolores Costello was a delicate blonde beauty who projected patrician poise as a lead actress. The daughter of stage-screen matinee idol Maurice Costello, she and her sister (actress Helene Costello) began appearing as children in Vitagraph films that starred their father. As a teenager, Costello became a model for top New York illustrators, then began playing bit roles at age 17 in East Coast productions. She and her sister formed a successful dance duet on the New York stage in the George White Scandals of 1924, leading to the two of them being signed to film contracts by Warner Bros. Her career moved slowly at first, but took off as a sudden star after her appearance opposite John Barrymore in The Sea Beast (1926), a romanticized adaptation of Moby Dick; she and Barrymore were married in 1928. She went on to be one of the leading stars of the late '20s and early '30s, making the transition into the talkies but retiring from films in 1932 to have two children (one of whom was future actor John Barrymore, Jr.). After she and Barrymore Sr. split up, she returned to the screen in mature roles, notably as Freddie Bartholomew's mother in Little Lord Fauntelroy (1936) and as Isabel Amberson, Tim Holt's mother and Joseph Cotten's love, in Orson Welles' The Magnificent Ambersons (1942). She retired from the screen permanently in 1943.
by Rovi biography