Phyllis Barry

Phyllis Barry (born Gertrude Phyllis Hillyard, 7 December 1908 – 1 July 1954) was an English film actress. Born in Leeds, West Riding of Yorkshire, England, to Seth Henry and Bertha (née Giles) Hillyard, Barry appeared in over 40 films between 1925 and 1947.

Phyllis Barry
Phyllis Barry, 1938
Gertrude Phyllis Hillyard

(1908-12-07)7 December 1908
Died1 July 1954(1954-07-01) (aged 45)
Years active1923-1947


Barry trained as a dancer in a John Tiller troupe. In August 1923, when she was 12, her mother brought her to Australia, where she was known as Phyllis du Barry.[1] By September, she was the lead dancer in a cabaret troupe at the Wentworth Cafe, until May 1925, when she made her first film, Painted Daughters. Engagements followed with the Frances Scully Pony Ballet and as a dancer at the Ambassadors' Club. In July 1926, she joined the Fuller Brothers, touring with Chefalo and Palmer, the Moon and Morris Revue Company and the Zig Zag Revue Company. Her second film, Sunrise, was made in 1926. In 1927, she appeared as a specialty dancer in the musicals No, No, Nanette and Gershwin's Lady Be Good, both starring Elsie Prince. She then joined the Jim Gerald Revue Company.

Her mother was an accomplished dress designer, both for the Empire Theatre in Sydney and on her own account, under the name "Madame du Barry." In February 1928, her mother married Jim Gerald's brother, Lance Vane. In March, Phyllis accompanied her newly acquired uncle and aunt, Jim Gerald and Essie Jennings, on an extensive tour of America, returning in November. On her return, Phyllis remained with Jim Gerald's company, then other Fullers' companies, until April 1929, when she joined the cast of Rio Rita, starring Gladys Moncrieff, as a dancer. In March 1930, Phyllis went to America and under the name of Phyllis du Barry, touring the coast with the Fanchon and Marco Company, finally appearing in Hollywood where she was given a film part when director King Vidor selected Barry to co-star as "the other woman" in the 1932 Samuel Goldwyn film Cynara opposite Ronald Coleman and Kay Francis. In 1933, she starred alongside Buster Keaton and Jimmy Durante in the comedy What! No Beer? for MGM. Her career did not include other major productions.

Modern viewers will remember Barry for her role as a foreign spy who seduces Curly Howard in the Three Stooges short subject Three Little Sew and Sews. Other films include The Prince and the Pauper, One Rainy Afternoon, Blind Adventure, and Laurel and Hardy's Bonnie Scotland.

Barry married the vaudevillian Abner Nordlund in March 1932, divorcing him in April 1934, then shortly after married the painter/decorator Gilbert M. Caldwell, living in West Hollywood. Her mother had joined her in America in July 1930, and lived with the couple.


Barry died of barbiturate poisoning caused by the ingestion of phenobarbital on 1 July 1954.[2]

Partial filmography


  1. All the Australian events are documented in contemporary newspapers published in digital form by the National Library of Australia
  2. "The Three Stooges Supporting Players: Mini-Biographical Profiles". The Three Stooges Journal. Gwynedd Valley, Pennsylvania: The Three Stooges Fan Club, Inc. (133): 10–11. Spring 2010.
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