Don "Red" Barry

Donald Barry de Acosta (January 11, 1912 July 17, 1980), born Donald Barry De Acosta, known as Red Barry, was an American film and television actor. He was nicknamed "Red" after appearing as the first Red Ryder in the highly successful 1940 film Adventures of Red Ryder;[1] the character was played in later films by "Wild Bill" Elliott and Allan Lane. Barry went on to bigger budget films following Red Ryder, but none reached his previous level of success. He played Red Doyle in the 1964 Perry Mason episode 'The Case of the Simple Simon'.

Don "Red" Barry
"Red" Barry in 1979
Born(1912-01-11)January 11, 1912
DiedJuly 17, 1980(1980-07-17) (aged 68)
Cause of deathSuicide by firearm
Resting placeForest Lawn Memorial Park, Hollywood Hills, California
OccupationActor, writer
Years active1933–1980
Peggy Stewart
(m. 1940; div. 1944)

(m. 1963)

Early years

Barry was born in Houston, Texas.[1] He attended Allen Academy[2] and the Texas School of Mines.[3] Prior to acting, Barry had been a high school and college football player. He went to Los Angeles, California, to work in advertising.[4]



Barry's initial venture into acting was in a production of Tobacco Road on stage in New York in the late 1930s.[5]


Barry first entered films as an extra and in small roles. He was discovered by John Wayne during a football game with Wayne providing Barry introductions to producers.[6] He appeared in a variety of roles before he found his forte and nickname "Red" in the Republic Pictures serial The Adventures of Red Ryder (1940). Though Barry was short and stocky rather than the lean and lanky hero of the Red Ryder comic strip, studio Herbert J. Yates demanded Barry play the role. Yates thought Barry's appearance similar to James Cagney with Barry unsuccessfully asking Yates to cast him in gangster films.[7] Barry continued in Western roles and made two war films Remember Pearl Harbor (1942) for Republic as well as being loaned out to 20th Century Fox for The Purple Heart (1944). He continued making Westerns for Republic and other studios.

By the 1950s, Barry was a supporting actor instead of playing leads in westerns. Early in 1955, he appeared as the bandit Milt Sharp in an episode of the syndicated series, Stories of the Century, starring and narrated by Jim Davis.[8]

Barry played "Clete" in the 1956 western film Seven Men from Now, starring Randolph Scott. In 1958 he appeared (credited as Donald Barry) on the TV western Cheyenne in the episode "Dead to Rights." He guest starred as Tanner in the 1958 episode "Bullet Proof" of the ABC/Warner Brothers series Sugarfoot, starring Will Hutchins; he was cast as Arkansas in the 1959 Sugarfoot episode "The Return of the Canary Kid". Barry appeared four times in the ABC/WB western Colt .45. Barry was cast as black-clad gunfighter in a 1961 episode, "Last Stop: Oblivion", of the ABC/WB western series, Maverick with Jack Kelly and fellow guest star Buddy Ebsen. In 1961 Barry appeared as Dusty McCade in the TV western Lawman in the episode titled "Hassayampa."

Barry's voice in the television westerns sounded much like that of the character actor Dub Taylor. About this time, he also guest starred on two other ABC/WB dramas, Bourbon Street Beat and The Roaring 20s. He appeared as well in the syndicated crime drama, U.S. Marshal, starring John Bromfield, and the NBC education drama series, Mr. Novak, starring James Franciscus.

Barry continued making Westerns as part of the ensemble casts of A.C. Lyles Paramount second feature Westerns in the mid 1960s.

In 1966, Barry played Confederate soldier "Lt. Farrow" in the Western film Alvarez Kelly. Barry played a supporting role in the 1968 film, Shalako, with Sean Connery.[9]

Barry played supporting roles in dozens of television series, particularly westerns. He appeared eight times on the long-running NBC series, The Virginian, in the 1960s. He appeared in six episodes of Michael Landon's Little House on the Prairie as farmer Judd Larrabee, and appeared in all-star TV miniseries, such as Rich Man, Poor Man Book II and The Dream Merchants.


In addition to acting, Barry was also a writer, writing the stories upon which the films Red Light (1949) starring George Raft and Virginia Mayo, Train to Tombstone (1950), and Convict Stage (1965) were based, and co-writing the screenplay as well as directing and playing the leading role of Jesse James in Jesse James' Women (1954).

Personal life

During the height of his Red Ryder fame, he married B-movie actress Peggy Stewart, they divorced on April 12, 1944.[10]


On July 17, 1980, Barry shot himself in the head at his home, shortly after police had left the residence after investigating a domestic dispute.[5] He was estranged at the time from his second wife, Barbara, with whom he had two daughters. He is interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in the Hollywood Hills of Los Angeles.

Selected filmography


  1. Cline, William C. (1997). In the Nick of Time: Motion Picture Sound Serials. McFarland. pp. 71–72. ISBN 9780786404711. Retrieved 11 April 2017.
  2. "Donald Barry Just right Type for Fast-action Range Roles". Cumberland Evening Times. Maryland, Cumberland. September 5, 1940. p. 9. Retrieved April 11, 2017 via
  3. Willis, John (1966). Screen World, 1966. Biblo & Tannen Publishers. p. 221. ISBN 9780819603074. Retrieved 11 April 2017.
  4. Connelly, Mary Jo (November 21, 1976). "Red Ryder made Don Barry famous ... but Lana, Ann, Joan and Susan spiced up those Hollywood nights". The Argus. California, Fremont. p. 11. Retrieved April 10, 2017 via
  5. "Actor 'Red' Barry kills self". The San Bernardino County Sun. California, San Bernardino. Associated Press. July 19, 1980. p. 2. Retrieved April 11, 2017 via
  6. p. 29 Savage, William W. The Cowboy Hero: His Image in American History & Culture University of Oklahoma Press, 1979
  7. p. 109 Tuska, Jon A Variable Harvest: Essays and Reviews of Film and Literature McFarland & Co., 1990
  8. "Stories of the Century: "Milt Sharp", February 28, 1955". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved September 15, 2012.
  9. p. 126 Herzberg, Bob Shooting Scripts: From Pulp Western to Film McFarland, 24 Mar. 2005
  10. "Divorces". Billboard. May 27, 1944. p. 32. Retrieved 11 April 2017.
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