Gene Barry, American actor, Died at 90

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Dead, Gene Barry on December 9, 2009 at the age of 90, he was an American stage, screen, and television actor.

Born Eugene Klass on June 14, 1919, in New York City, the son of Eva (née Conn) and Martin Klass; all of his grandparents were Jewish immigrants from Russia.

Barry grew up in Brooklyn and attended New Utrecht High School.

Barry exhibited early artistic skills with singing and playing violin as a child and later spent two years at the Chatham Square School of Music in Greenwich Village on a scholarship awarded for his vocal ability.

Barry chose his professional name in honor of John Barrymore and made his Broadway debut as Captain Paul Duval in the 1942 revival of Sigmund Romberg’s The New Moon.

He later portrayed Falke in Rosalinda (1942), Nova Kovich in The Merry Widow (1943), Lieutenant Bunin in Catherine Was Great (1944), Dorante and Comte De Chateau-Gaillard in The Would-Be Gentleman (1946), The Doctor in Happy as Larry (1950), and played a variety of roles in the musical revue Bless You All (1950).

In his next TV series, Burke’s Law, Barry played a millionaire homicide investigator who was chauffeured in his limousine as he solved crimes.

This series was broadcast on ABC-TV from September 20, 1963, to May 5, 1965. For his performance in it, Barry won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in 1965.

In 1966, the final year of the series, the title of the show changed to Amos Burke, Secret Agent. (In 1993 the “Burke’s Law” series returned to television for one year.

Barry again acted in the title role, but this time as a widower with a son named Peter.) According to his co-star Gary Conway, who played Det. Tilson in the series, the two actually had a lot of fun, on- and off-camera, despite having some difficulties with each other.

After Conway left the show, he remained friends with Barry, until his acting mentor’s death.

Barry’s third TV series was called The Name of the Game, in which he played the sophisticated publisher of a family of magazines, and he was one of three lead characters on the series.

The other two lead actors were Robert Stack and Tony Franciosa, who rotated with Barry week by week as the primary character in each week’s program. This series was shown by NBC from 1968 to 1971.

One of the magazines that Barry’s character published was called People magazine, several years before the actual People magazine entered publication.

The singer/actor made a triumphant return to Broadway in 1983 starring as a gay boulevardier in the musical version of the popular French film La Cage aux Folles (1978), which earned him a Tony nomination.

He lost the Tony to his more flamboyant co-star George Hearn. After a year on Broadway, he joined the road company in San Francisco and played Los Angeles for a long stint.

Another musicals included “On a Clear Day You Can See Forever,” “Watergate: The Musical” (as Nixon), “Fiddler on the Roof” (with his wife) and “No, No, Nanette”. Gene’s also appeared in his one-man cabaret show entitled “Gene Barry in One” from time to time.

 

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