Lynn Bari

Lynn Bari (born Margaret Schuyler Fisher, December 18, 1913 – November 20, 1989) was a film actress who specialized in playing sultry, statuesque man-killers in roughly 150 20th Century Fox films from the early 1930s through the 1940s.[1]

Lynn Bari
Born
Margaret Schuyler Fisher

(1913-12-18)December 18, 1913
DiedNovember 20, 1989(1989-11-20) (aged 75)
OccupationActress
Years active1933–1968
Spouse(s)
Walter Kane
(m. 1939; div. 1943)

Sidney Luft
(m. 1943; div. 1950)

Nathan Rickles
(m. 1955; div. 1972)
Children2

Early years

Bari was born in Roanoke, Virginia, and raised in Lynchburg, Virginia, moving to Los Angeles, California, with her family in her early teenage years.[2]

Career

Bari was one of 14 young women "launched on the trail of film stardom" August 6, 1935, when they each received a six-month contract with 20th Century Fox after spending 18 months in the company's training school. The contracts included a studio option for renewal for as long as seven years.[3]

In most of her early films, Bari had uncredited parts usually playing receptionists or chorus girls. She struggled to find starring roles in films, but accepted any work she could get. Rare leading roles included China Girl (1942), Hello, Frisco, Hello (1943), and The Spiritualist (1948). In B movies, Bari was usually cast as a villainess, notably Shock and Nocturne (both 1946). An exception was The Bridge of San Luis Rey (1944). During WWII, according to a survey taken of GIs, Bari was the second-most popular pinup girl after the much better-known Betty Grable.

Bari's film career fizzled out in the early 1950s as she was approaching her 40th birthday, although she continued to work at a more limited pace over the next two decades, now playing matronly characters rather than temptresses. She portrayed the mother of a suicidal teenager in a 1951 drama, On the Loose, plus a number of supporting parts.

Bari's last film appearance was as the mother of rebellious teenager Patty McCormack in The Young Runaways (1968).

She quickly took up the rising medium of television during the '50s, which began when she starred in the live television sitcom Detective's Wife, which ran during the summer of 1950.[4][5] In 1952, Bari starred in her own situation comedy, Boss Lady, a summer replacement for NBC's Fireside Theater. She portrayed Gwen F. Allen, the beautiful top executive of a construction firm. Not the least of her troubles in the role was being able to hire a general manager who did not fall in love with her.[6][7]

In 1955, Bari appeared in the episode "The Beautiful Miss X" of Rod Cameron's syndicated crime drama City Detective. In 1960, she played female bandit Belle Starr in the debut episode "Perilous Passage" of the NBC western series Overland Trail starring William Bendix and Doug McClure and with fellow guest star Robert J. Wilke as Cole Younger.[8]

Her final TV appearances were in episodes of The Girl From U.N.C.L.E. and The FBI

Commenting on her "other woman" roles, Bari once said, "I seem to be a woman always with a gun in her purse. I'm terrified of guns. I go from one set to the other shooting people and stealing husbands!"

Personal life

Bari was the only daughter of John Maynard Fisher, a native of Tennessee, and his wife, Marjorie Halpen of New York. She had a younger brother, John. Fisher died in 1920, and his widow moved the family to Lynchburg, Virginia. Here Bari's mother met and married the Reverend Robert Bizer, a Religious Science minister. Assigned a position with his church in Boston, Bizer moved the family to Massachusetts. Bari later recalled other children at school in Boston made life miserable for her brother and her, making constant fun of their obvious Southern accents. She determined to eliminate hers, becoming involved with amateur theatrics and taking elocution lessons. Bari was enthusiastic when at the age of 13 she was told her stepfather had been reassigned to Los Angeles, where he later became the head of the Institute of Religious Science.

Her stage name, selected as 'Lynn Barrie' while at dramatic school at 14, is a composite of theater actress Lynn Fontanne and author J. M. Barrie.[9] After reading a story about the Italian city of Bari, she decided to change the spelling.

A staunch Republican, Bari actively supported conservative causes, campaigned for Republican presidential candidates from Hoover to Reagan, and was a regular attendee of GOP national conventions.

In 2010, in an authorized biography by film historian Jeff Gordon titled Foxy Lady written from interviews completed shortly before Bari's death, she suggests that, despite a 35 year career with over 166 film and television roles, a more promising career was sabotaged by unresolved problems with her domineering, alcoholic mother and three marriages.[10][11]

Marriages and children

Bari was married to agent Walter Kane, producer Sid Luft, and psychiatrist Dr. Nathan Rickles. Luft married Bari November 28, 1943.[12] They divorced December 26, 1950.[13] She and Rickles wed August 30, 1955;[14] they divorced in 1972. Bari's first child, a daughter with Luft, was born August 7, 1945, in St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, California, but died the next day.[15] Two years later, she had a son, John Michael Luft (b. 1948). John Michael was the subject of "a bitter custody battle" between Luft and Bari.[16] A judge in Los Angeles ruled in Bari's favor in November 1958, ruling that the Luft household "was an improper place in which to rear the boy."[16]

Later years

In the 1960s, Bari toured in a production of Barefoot in the Park, playing the bride's mother.[17] After retiring from acting in the 1970s, Bari moved to Santa Monica, California. In her last years, she suffered increasing problems with arthritis.

Death

On November 20, 1989, Bari was found dead in her home of an apparent heart attack. She was cremated and her ashes scattered at sea.[18]

Hollywood Walk of Fame

Bari has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, one for motion pictures, at 6116 Hollywood Boulevard, and one for television, at 6323 Hollywood Boulevard.[19]

Filmography

Radio appearances

YearProgramEpisode/source
1947Rexall Summer TheaterStarred (with Pat O'Brien) in summer replacement for The Durante-Moore Show[21][22]


1947

Suspense July 24, 1947 “Murder by an Expert”
1952Screen Guild Theatre"Heaven Can Wait"[23]

Book

  • Foxy Lady: The Authorized Biography of Lynn Bari by Jeff Gordon (BearManor Media, 2010, 500 pp. ISBN 9781593935238)

References

  1. Allmovie listing
  2. "Bari, Timid In Role, Is Adventurous Cook". The Lawton Constitution. October 27, 1965. p. 11. Retrieved July 18, 2015 via Newspapers.com.
  3. "The Hollywood Roundup". The Times. Indiana, Hammond. United Press. August 6, 1935. p. 35. Retrieved May 20, 2016 via Newspapers.com.
  4. "Private Eye". Chicago Tribune. July 23, 1950. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
  5. "Flashback: Lynn Bari". Beaver County Times. January 10, 1993. p. 7. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
  6. "TV News". July 4, 1952. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  7. "List of episodes at CTVA". Archived from the original on 2013-09-08. Retrieved 2013-07-30.
  8. Briggs, Colin. "A Much Titled Lady". Classic Images. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
  9. Room, Adrian (2011). Dictionary of Pseudonyms: 13,000 Assumed Names and Their Origins (5th ed.). McFarland & Company. p. 47. ISBN 978-0-7864-4373-4. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
  10. Amazon listing - Foxy Lady authorized biography
  11. Foxy Lady
  12. "Marriages". Billboard. December 11, 1943. p. 31. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
  13. "Divorces". Billboard. January 6, 1951. p. 28. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
  14. "Actress Lynn Bari, Doctor Married". Toledo Blade. August 31, 1955. p. 5. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
  15. "Daughter Born Tuesday to Actress Lynn Bari Dies". Chicago Tribune. August 9, 1945. p. 25. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
  16. "Judge Rules Against Luft". The Victoria Advocate. November 23, 1958. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
  17. "Comedy Comes To Coliseum". Brownwood Bulletin. January 23, 1966. p. 21. Retrieved July 18, 2015 via Newspapers.com.
  18. TCM listing
  19. "Lynn Bari". Hollywood Walk of Fame. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
  20. IMDB listing
  21. "Durante-Moore Replacement". Billboard. March 29, 1947. p. 7. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
  22. "Rex Keeps Schnoz; Acc't Shifts to NBC". Billboard. May 24, 1947. p. 5. Retrieved 20 July 2015.
  23. Kirby, Walter (April 6, 1952). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 52. Retrieved May 16, 2015 via Newspapers.com.
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