Gene Barry


Actor
Gene Barry

About

Also Known As
Eugene Klass
Birth Place
New York City, New York, USA
Born
June 14, 1919
Died
December 09, 2009
Cause of Death
Congestive Heart Failure

Biography

Assured, dapper leading man and singer who, after playing in a mixed bag of Hollywood films of the 1950s, found a niche as debonair man-about-town in several TV series, and later had success onstage. A native New Yorker, Barry made it to Broadway in the 40s in plays including "Rosalinda" and Mae West's "Catherine Was Great." He signed with Paramount in the early 50s to play in "The Atomi...

Photos & Videos

The War of the Worlds (1953) - Lobby Cards
The Houston Story - Lobby Card Set

Family & Companions

Betty Claire Kalb
Wife
Married on October 22, 1944.

Notes

Some sources list 1921 as the year of Mr. Barry's birth.

Biography

Assured, dapper leading man and singer who, after playing in a mixed bag of Hollywood films of the 1950s, found a niche as debonair man-about-town in several TV series, and later had success onstage. A native New Yorker, Barry made it to Broadway in the 40s in plays including "Rosalinda" and Mae West's "Catherine Was Great." He signed with Paramount in the early 50s to play in "The Atomic City" (1952), as a scientist whose son is kidnapped by powers hoping to acquire a nuclear bomb recipe. Barry stayed with Paramount for two years, playing the stalwart lead in one of his best-remembered films, "The War of the Worlds" (1953). He did especially well strutting his stuff in the offbeat, underrated Western musical, "Red Garters" (1954).

Despite good work in the crime drama, "Naked Alibi" (1954), Barry played second fiddle to Clark Gable and Susan Hayward in "Soldier of Fortune" (1955). Two of his best subsequent films were for director Sam Fuller: the quirky Western "Forty Guns" and an early Hollywood look at strife in Vietnam, "China Gate" (1957). Nonetheless, most of Barry's credits from 1954 to 1958 were routine action films, and TV soon became his home base of operations. Although he had played Eve Arden's beau on the last season of the CBS sitcom "Our Miss Brooks" (1955-56), "Bat Masterson" (NBC, 1958-61) really marked his transition to small-screen fame. It also cannily utilized and strongly consolidated the image of the dandy that had previously appeared as part of Barry's star persona. Bat's derby hat, gold-tipped cane and tailored outfits were trademarks of a series that, like the contemporaneous "Maverick," downplayed action in favor of wit in glamorizing the legendary lawman-gambler.

Barry's next series carved an even more prominent niche in popular culture. "Burke's Law" (ABC, 1963-65), revamped for a third season as "Amos Burke, Secret Agent" (1965-66), told of the dashing, middle-aged head of the homicide bureau of the L.A. Police Department, who also happened to be a multi-millionaire. The last season was even more escapist as Capt. Burke left the police force to become an undercover FBI agent exposing organized crime. Barry continued his run of hit shows with "The Name of the Game" (NBC, 1968-71), which told the exploits of three men working for "Crime" magazine, with Barry in typical form as the tabloid's publisher dealing stylishly with high-level intrigue.

A fourth series, "The Adventurer" (syndicated, 1972) unsuccessfully rehashed earlier Barry programs as wealthy businessman Gene Bradley posed as a film star while working as a spy. Barry's subsequent TV work was mostly in TV-movies ("Ransom for Alice!" 1977, "A Cry for Love" 1980), and miniseries ("Aspen" 1977), but for a time he took to movie producing. He set up the Barry Film Company and executive produced a feature directed by his son Michael. "The Second Coming of Sarah" (1974), based on a Leonard Cohen song about a female Christ-like figure, was surprisingly experimental and showed definite filmmaking talent by all concerned, but was hardly the type of film able to garner much exposure.

Barry's next turn in the spotlight came in 1983 in yet another medium, the Broadway stage, with the smash musical "La Cage aux Folles." The show capitalized beautifully, if a bit stereotypically, on his images as both a smooth, manly romancer with a past and a self-mocking, slightly prettified dandy as he played a gay man who must meet his son's prospective in-laws. Barry stayed with the show for a long time and later recreated his Bat Masterson for the two-part TV-movie "Luck of the Draw: The Gambler Returns" (1991). He reprised another famous role when CBS revived "Burke's Law" (1994-95), as a new series, with Amos' son helping his father fight crime, and joined Elizabeth Taylor, Shirley MacLaine, Debbie Reynolds and Joan Collins for the amusing, Carrie Fisher-penned telepic "These Old Broads" (ABC, 2001). Still looking fit and dashing in his mid-80s, Barry made a brief but welcome return to feature films with a cameo in Steven Spielberg's rivieting remake of "War of the Worlds" (2005), playing Tom Cruise's ex-father-in-law.

Life Events

1942

First appeared on Broadway

1952

Signed by Paramount; played in first Hollywood film in the leading role in "The Atomic City"

1953

Played the male lead in what is probably his best-remembered feature film, "The War of the Worlds"

1955

First TV series in a regular role, "Our Miss Brooks"; played physical education teacher Gene Talbot on the last season of the CBS sitcom starring Eve Arden

1958

Last feature film for nearly a decade, "Hong Kong Confidential"

1962

Returned to Broadway to act in the play, "The Perfect Setup"

1967

Returned to feature films to play a leading role opposite Cyd Charisse in his first non-US feature, the British-made film, "Maroc 7"

1968

First TV-movie, "Prescription: Murder", the first of two pilots for the NBC detective mystery series, "Columbo", starring Peter Falk

1972

Starred as agent Gene Bradley on the syndicated spy series, "The Adventurer"

1974

Executive produced a feature film, "The Second Coming of Suzanne", directed by Barry's son Michael and based on a song by Leonard Cohen; also acted a role in the film

1977

Acted in first TV miniseries, "Aspen"

1978

Performed in the stage musical, "Spotlight"

1979

Last feature film credit to date, the docudrama, "Guyana: Cult of the Damned"

1983

Opened on Broadway in one of the two leading roles of the hit musical, "La Cage aux Folles"; was nominated for a Tony as Best Leading Actor in a Musical, but lost to his co-star George Hearn

1991

Recreated TV series role as Bat Masterson for the two-part NBC Western miniseries, "Luck of the Draw: The Gambler Returns"

1999

Performed a cabaret act in NYC

Photo Collections

The War of the Worlds (1953) - Lobby Cards
Here are some Lobby Cards from George Pal's The War of the Worlds (1953). Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.
The Houston Story - Lobby Card Set
Here is a set of Lobby Cards from Columbia Pictures' The Houston Story (1955), starring Gene Barry. Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.

Videos

Movie Clip

Back From Eternity (1956) - Blue Moon Girls Between segments of the South American airline journey, little Tommy (Jon Provost) rescued by nice Louise (Phyllis Kirk) but not vampy Rena (Anita Ekberg), who joins jaded pilot Bill (Robert Ryan), in John Farrow's Back From Eternity, 1956.
Back From Eternity (1956) - Our Chances? After crash-landing, convict Vasquel (Rod Steiger) and bounty hunter Crimp (Fred Clark) tangle, pilots Bill (Robert Ryan) and Joe (Keith Andes) speak to survivors (Cameron Prud'homme, Phyllis Kirk, Jesse White, Anita Ekberg et al), John Farrow directing, in Back From Eternity, 1956.
War Of The Worlds, The (1953) - It's One Of Them! Librarian Sylvia (Ann Robinson) stays composed enough when assaulted by the alien in the basement, scientist Clayton (Gene Barry) wielding the axe, in George Pal's The War Of The Worlds, 1953.
War Of The Worlds, The (1953) - Open, Super Science The 1953 George Pal production of H.G. Wells' The War Of The Worlds, getting modern right off the bat with ominous narration by Paul Frees and war footage covering 20th century events, script by Barrè Lyndon.
Thunder Road (1958) - Open, Wild And Reckless Men Opening with a song co-written by star, screen-writer and producer Robert Mitchum, who rolls his car to escape the revenuers, from Thunder Road, 1958.
Houston Story, The - Put the Blame on Mame Barbara Hale (best known as "Della Street" on Perry Mason, here as singer "Zoe") does Rita Hayworth's famous number "Put the Blame on Mame" by Allan Roberts and Doris Fisher in The Houston Story, 1956.
Houston Story, The - Opening, Young Girl's Body Enterprising crook Duncan (Gene Barry) sees a chance to I-D a body as somebody he needs dead, before the opening credits roll in director William Castle's mob infiltration drama The Houston Story, 1956.
Houston Story, The - Birthmark Aspiring petroleum thief Duncan (Gene Barry) delivers vengeance for a friend to singer Zoe (Barbara Hale) then tangles with her racketeer boyfriend (Paul Richards) in William Castle's underworld drama The Houston Story, 1956.
27th Day, The - Lend You A Weapon "The Alien" (Arnold Moss) gets to the business end of his pitch to his chosen humans (Gene Barry, Valerie French, George Voscovec, Azemat Janti, Marie Tsien) in a premise-setting scene from The 27th Day, 1957.
27th Day, The - Opening Credits Opening title credits for the high-brow 1957 Science Fiction feature The 27th Day, directed by William Asher, from John Mantley's novel, starring Gene Barry, Valerie French and Arnold Moss.
27th Day, The - Strange Broadcast Newsman Jonathan (Gene Barry) is dining at a restaurant when "The Alien" (Arnold Moss) interrupts all earthly broadcasting, setting off a panic explained by a TV Anchor (Paul Frees) in The 27th Day, 1957.
27th Day, The - Come With Me Please Five earthlings (Valerie French, Gene Barry, Marie Tsien, George Voskovec, Azemat Janti), diverse by the standards of the day, are collected by "The Alien" (Arnold Moss) in the opening scene from The 27th Day, 1957.

Trailer

Family

Martin Klass
Father
Eva Klass
Mother
Michael Lewis Barry
Son
Born c. 1946; when Gene Barry formed the Barry Film Company in the early 1970s, his son served as a director; directed the feature "The Second Coming of Suzanne" (1974).
Fredric James Barry
Son
Elizabeth Barry
Daughter

Companions

Betty Claire Kalb
Wife
Married on October 22, 1944.

Bibliography

Notes

Some sources list 1921 as the year of Mr. Barry's birth.