skip navigation
Joan Barry

Joan Barry

| VIEW ALL

TCM Messageboards
Post your comments here
ADD YOUR COMMENT>

share:

TCM Archive Materials VIEW ALL ARCHIVES (0)

Recent DVDs

Rome Express ... A tense, Hitchcockian story of robbery, intrigue and murder which takes place on... more info $11.21was $14.93 Buy Now

Also Known As: Joan Bell Died: April 10, 1989
Born: Cause of Death: natural causes
Birth Place: Profession: actor

Biography CLOSE THE FULL 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...

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.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 The Sergeant Was a Lady (1961) Rita Waters
2.
 Space Master X-7 (1958) Miss Meyers
3.
 Rome Express (1933)
4.
 Women Who Play (1932)
5.
 Rich and Strange (1932)
6.
 Ebb Tide (1932)
7.
 The Outsider (1931)
8.
 Blackmail (1929)
10.
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Please support TCMDB by adding to this information.

Click here to contribute