Thursday, December 10, 2009

Gene Barry, 1919-2009

Choose any one of Gene Barry's television series - The Name of the Game, Burke's Law or Bat Masterson - and you wouldn't be finding a character that was appreciably much different from the other two; suave, solid, resolutely masculine. He was perhaps more a presence than a performer. Indeed, it was that sense of masculinity that made his appearance in the 1984 Broadway hit La Cage aux Folles a casting against type to end all other castings against type. (America was surprised, but Barry was an old pro at musical theater.) For me, he will always be the hero that defended Earth against marauding Martians in George Pal's stunning mounting of H.G. Welles' War of the Worlds. When CBS played this frequently in their evening movie slots during the 1960s, it was surefire nightmare fodder for small fry, especially the taut sequence in the abandoned farmhouse. Let another 50 years of technical advancements go by - viewers will still be marveling at the craftsmanship behind this 1953 classic that set the bar so very high for future space invasion movies. And maybe the common cold accomplished what Gene Barry could not. I was always glad he was on our side.

Barry died today of undisclosed causes at the age of 90.

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