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Actor Gene Barry Dies

Adam Bernstein

Not reported by any news outlets yet, but The Washington Post has confirmed the death of actor Gene Barry Dec. 9 in Woodland Hills, Calif., at age 90.

Perhaps not a household name now, but for 20 years Barry was a major TV star as the sharply-dressed lawmen of the series "Bat Masterson" and "Burke's Law." He began his career on Broadway opposite Mae West in "Catherine Was Great" (1944) and starred in the 1953 alien-invasion film "War of the Worlds."

A longtime cabaret and touring stage performer, Mr. Barry played President Richard M. Nixon in a 1982 Atlanta production of "Watergate: A Musical." The next year he originated the Broadway role of a gay night-club owner raising a son in "La Cage aux Folles," a Jerry Herman musical based on a French stage play. Barry got a Tony nomination.

"I'm not playing a homosexual," Mr. Barry told the New York Times. "I'm playing a person who cares deeply about another person. The role is loving another person onstage. It doesn't matter whether it's a man, a woman or a giraffe. It has nothing to do with sexuality, as far as I'm concerned. I play the dignity of the man, his concern for his lover and his concern and love for his son."

Bit of trivia: Barry played a murderous psychiatrist in "Prescription: Murder," the 1968 TV movie that kicked off Peter Falk's career as Lt. Columbo.

By Adam Bernstein  |  December 10, 2009; 6:16 PM ET
Categories:  Adam Bernstein , Movies  
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Don't forget "The Name of the Game," in which he was a magazine publisher. Still waiting for that series to come out on DVD. A very progressive series, in some ways.

Posted by: Richard63104 | December 10, 2009 8:20 PM | Report abuse

I'm very sorry to hear this. I read that he, John Forsyth and Desi Arnaz were considered some of the nicest people in Hollywood. I'll never forget Bat Masterson.

Posted by: gbooksdc | December 10, 2009 8:54 PM | Report abuse

One of his more disturbing roles was that
of Jim Jones in a quickly made for TV movie about the kool aid dude.

Posted by: rkerg | December 10, 2009 9:18 PM | Report abuse

As a little kid, I had a Bat Masterson cane. You put a roll of caps in then "gold" head, hit a button and it would "shoot".
I loved Amos Burke and Name of the Game. He wandered through my life from primary school through college.
It was a much better place than what kids have now.

Posted by: edismae | December 10, 2009 9:51 PM | Report abuse

Bat Masterson. A classy show if there ever was one, and Barry was perfect for the role. "Back when the West was very young...." The Glory Days of TV.

Posted by: jwerthan | December 10, 2009 10:44 PM | Report abuse

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