Final Performance

The American actor Barry Brown belongs to a generation of seventies performers which includes Jeff Bridges, James Woods and John Savage.

A successful contract player for Universal Television, Barry was the youngest ever actor Emmy-nominated for his role as troubled teen in The Mod Squad.

In 1972, he teamed with Bridges as a draft dodger in Robert Benton’s Bad Company – a Dickensian western about a gang of young outlaws making their way through the new frontier.

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Barry’s brooding performance soon caught the attention of Peter Bogdanovich, who offered him a lead role in Daisy Miller (1974) as Frederick Winterbourne, the upper class ex-patriate in love with the eponymous Daisy, played by Cybill Shepherd.

Winterbourne was the ideal part for Barry. He excelled in these period pieces. Bogdanovich describes him as ‘the only American actor I know who looks like he’s read a book.’

The film was snubbed by critics as a vanity project for Bogdanovich. Barry took the worst of it. His career stalled and he slipped into alcoholic depression.

Throughout the seventies, he continued to work; appearing in episodes of Rhoda and Police Woman and on stage in ‘Long Day’s Jorney Into Night’ with Geraldine Fitzgerald; but that breakthrough role never materialised.

In his spare time, Barry collected obituaries of forgotten, old B-movie actors like Rondo Hatton and Joseph Calleia – he’s reading death notices in the opening scenes of Daisy Miller.

His last film role – a cameo appearance as a state trooper – was in Joe Dante’s Piranha (1978). Dante and Barry were friends and had written articles for ‘Castle of Frankenstein’ and ‘Films in Review’ back in the sixties.

On June 25 1978, Barry shot himself at his apartment. He had appeared in over 30 film and television productions. He was 27 years old.

Perhaps his big breakthrough was just over the horizon. Now though, the tragic silhouette of Winterbourne standing over Daisy’s grave just seems profoundly sad. A troubled actor left frozen in time.

His brother, James, wrote the acclaimed memoirs ‘The LA Diaries’ and ‘This River’ covering Barry’s dysfunctional upbringing in detail.

His other credits also include ‘Halls of Anger’, ‘The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid’ and ‘The Ultimate Thrill.’



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Nick Wilson

Died saving his family from the sinking wreck of a battleship.

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Originally posted 2011-03-25 15:27:38. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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