Friday, December 11, 2009

Gene Barry (1919-2009)

He exuded class, dignity, & elegance in his television work. That is how most people will remember Gene Barry, who passed away Thursday at 90.

Barry made his television series debut as a physical education teacher on Our Miss Brooks before landing the title role in the Western series, Bat Masterson, in 1958. 4 years later, Barry landed what would be the definitive role of his career, starring in Burke's Law, which was inexplicably rebooted as Amos Burke, Secret Agent in its final season when ABC & Four Star decided to repackage Burke as an American James Bond. Barry then starred in the anthology series The Name of the Game (1968-71) and the British series, The Adventurer, before settling into a lengthy string of guest-star gigs. Burke's Law was revived in the 90's by CBS and producer Aaron Spelling, who'd produced the original for Four Star, but lasted about a year and a half before exiting, this time for good.

Barry had worked in movies before transitioning to television, most notably in "War of the Worlds". However, he would not be able to make a transition back into films because of his being typecast as a television star, something that probably wouldn't be a problem today.

We'll soon see if cable networks like Sleuth or TV Land can put together marathon blocks of Name of the Game or Burke's Law in memory of Barry. There aren't too many in Hollywood today that can emulate or match Barry's class & dignity on screen. He will be missed.

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