Saturday, December 6, 2008

Who's Almost Who In Knickerbocker Village History: Gene Barry 2

Gene lived at 1939 53rd Street in 1930, however:
Gene Barry, born Eugene Klass; June 14, 1919, is an American actor. He was the son of Eva (née Conn) and Martin Klass; all of his grandparents were Jewish immigrants from Russia. Barry adopted his professional name in honor of John Barrymore. He was trained in violin and voice and spent two years at the Chatham Square School of Music on a singing scholarship. He performed on Broadway in Catherine Was Great in 1944, and returned many years later to star in the 1983 musical La Cage aux Folles (based on the French film of the same name about a gay couple with a straight son) with George Hearn as his life partner/spouse. For his contribution to live theater, Gene Barry has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6555 Hollywood Blvd.
A prominent early film role came in the 1953 production of the sci-fi classic The War of the Worlds. He made an eyeblink-length cameo appearance in Steven Spielberg's 2005 War of the Worlds, along with his 1953 co-star Ann Robinson.
Known for his suave manner, Barry was featured on television in a recurring role in Our Miss Brooks and as the star of three of his own popular TV series -- Bat Masterson, The Name of the Game, and Burke's Law. He won the 1965 Golden Globe for Burke's Law. The series, featuring homicide investigations by a millionaire police captain, returned in 1993-94 with Barry once again in the title role.
He also starred in the 1973 ITV television series The Adventurer, with Barry Morse and Catherine Schell. He recreated the role of the debonair Wild West lawman Bat Masterson for two episodes of Guns of Paradise in 1990 alongside Hugh O'Brian as Wyatt Earp and again the following year in The Gambler Returns: Luck of the Draw, also with O'Brian as Earp.
Barry portrayed the murderer in the original two-hour pilot for the television mystery series Columbo, a psychiatrist who kills his wife in Prescription: Murder.
His wife of 58 years, Betty Clair Kalb, died in 2003. They met in 1944 while appearing on Broadway together in the musical Catherine Was Great with Mae West. He has two sons, Michael and Frederick, and an adopted daughter, Elizabeth.

I had never heard of the Chatham Square School of Music. I found out it was was located at 211 Clinton Street, between Henry and Madison Streets. It was torn down around 1960 to make may for the construction of the new Gouverneur Hospital. Gene probably traveled to the school as a kid from his Brooklyn home by taking the F train to East Broadway.

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