Thursday, December 10, 2009

Death of a Dapper Dude

Damn! Just six months after The Rap Sheet celebrated actor Gene Barry’s 90th birthday, the star of such TV crime dramas as Burke’s Law and The Name of the Game has “died of unknown causes ... at a rest home in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Woodland Hills,” according to The Associated Press.

Ivan G. Shreve Jr. has posted an appreciative obit in his Thrilling Days of Yesteryear. It reads, in part:
Barry became a household name on television in the late ’50s/early ’60s by playing sharply-dressed lawmen in two popular series: the NBC-TV western Bat Masterson (1958-’61) and the ABC-TV crime drama Burke’s Law (1963-’65). The latter show may well be his best-remembered showcase; in so much as he reprised the role of millionaire police commissioner Amos Burke in a short-lived spin-off entitled Amos Burke, Secret Agent and a short-lived revival of the original Burke’s Law series seen on CBS in 1994-’95. Law was one of the early contributions to the cathode ray tube of über-producer Aaron Spelling, and was a blueprint of sorts for later Spelling productions like The Love Boat and Fantasy Island. ...

Barry also played a role in the embryonic version of what later became the television mystery hit Columbo by co-starring alongside future star Peter Falk in Prescription: Murder (1968).
Barry (born Eugene Klass) demonstrated a screen presence that was hard not to appreciate--suave, sophisticated, confident. I can’t recall seeing him in any role that I didn’t think was enriched by his participation. Rest in peace, sir.

READ MORE:Gene Barry, Actor of TV, Film and Stage, Dies at 90,” by Michael Pollack (The New York Times); “‘Bat Masterson’ Star Played the Dapper Hero,” by Becky Krystal (The Washington Post); “Gene Barry Fought Martians with Science,” by Bob Calhoun (Open Salon); “R.I.P., Gene Barry,” by Tanner (Double O Section); “This Week in TV Guide: August 7, 1965,” by Mitchell Hadley (It’s About TV).

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