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One year ago: Gene Barry

December 9, 2010 |  6:00 am

Gene-barry Gene Barry was an actor who made a career of playing dapper and debonair lead characters on television in the mid- to-late 20th century. He died one year ago at age 90.

Barry was a versatile performer who delivered a Tony-nominated performance in the hit 1980s Broadway musical "La Cage aux Folles," in which he portrayed a gay impresario of a drag nightclub named Georges. He considered the role the best of his career.

The impeccably dressed Barry, a suave and sophisticated magnet for beautiful women, wasn't interested in joining his era's crowded ranks of TV cowboys. Instead, he preferred "a guy who looked good in clothes," he told the Associated Press in 1989.

"He has the remarkable knack of wearing a tuxedo well. He is at home in it, secure in it," producer Aaron Spelling once told TV Guide.

Among Barry's other roles were a James Bond-ish character named Amos Burke in "Amos Burke: Secret Agent" (previously "Burke's Law"), a publishing tycoon in the 1968-71 NBC adventure series "The Name of the Game" and the lead character in "The War of the Worlds" (1953).

His acting career was in decline by the 1980s, but it regained traction with his performance in "La Cage aux Folles" in 1983. His final screen role was in Steven Spielberg's 2005 "War of the Worlds," in which Barry and Ann Robinson, his co-star in the 1953 movie, played the grandparents.

For more on the dashing actor, read Gene Barry's obituary by The Times' Dennis McLellan.

-- Michael Farr

Photo: Gene Barry in 1951. Credit: Paramount Pictures