Gene Barry

A skilled American song and dance man who appeared on the stage, television, and in films.
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Artist Biography

b. Eugene Klass, 14 June 1921, New York City, New York, USA. A skilled song and dance man, Barry made a number of appearances on the stage, including appearing in Catherine Was Great (1944), which starred Mae West. Few other productions were notable but he worked often in television in the early 50s, playing a regular role in Eve Arden’s Our Miss Brooks (1956-57) and he later took the lead in television’s Bat Masterson (1958) and Burke’s Law (1963). His Hollywood films of the 50s and 60s, in many of which he played the lead, are almost all straight dramas, including The Atomic City (1952), The War Of The Worlds (1953), Red Garters (1954, a western musical spoof starring Rosemary Clooney and Guy Mitchell, with songs by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans), China Gate (1957, which gave a rare acting role to Nat ‘King’ Cole), the cult film Thunder Road (1958), Maroc 7 (1967), and Subterfuge (1969). Subsequently he was more involved with film production with his son, film director Michael Barry.

Later screen roles include a drama based on the Jonestown tragedy, Guyana: Cult Of The Damned (1979), and A Cry For Love (1980, film for television). In 1983 Barry returned to his theatrical roots as a song and dance man. This was in La Cage Aux Folles (1983), in which he took the starring role of Georges, one half of a homosexual couple that owns a French nightclub. The show’s outrageous (for the time) premise allied to a very good book by Harvey Fierstein, excellent production values, top rate performances and music and lyrics by Jerry Herman brought considerable box-office success. The show ran for 1, 176 performances and Barry was nominated for a Tony Award as Best Actor In A Musical. Very active once more in television, Barry was a guest in various series, such as Perry Mason (1987). Television also saw him making several return visits to old roles; he was Bat Masterson in The Gambler Returns: The Luck Of The Draw (1991), and reprised Amos Burke in 27 episodes of Burke’s Law (1994). A television film appearance was in These Old Broads (2001), while a big screen role found him on a return visit to War Of The Worlds (2005).