Barbara Barrie

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Barbara Barrie
Born Barbara Ann Berman
(1931-05-23) May 23, 1931 (age 83)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Occupation Actress, author
Years active 1955–present

Barbara Barrie (born May 23, 1931) is an American actress and author of children's books.

Personal life[edit]

Barrie was born as Barbara Ann Berman in Chicago, Illinois, of Jewish heritage,[1] the daughter of Frances Rose (née Boruszak) and Louis Berman.[2] She was raised in Corpus Christi, Texas. She briefly attended Del Mar College, going on to graduate from the University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with honors in 1953.[3] During her time at UT-Austin, she received at least two scholarships for drama, including the Kappa Kappa Gamma Donna Dellinger annual scholarship for "the most outstanding junior in the drama department,"[4] as well as awards for specific performances, such as the Atlas Award from the Globe Theatre in San Diego for "best female part in a minor role for 1950–51" based on her appearance in the California Theatre's summer production of Much Ado About Nothing.[5] She married Jay Harnick in July 1964. They had two children, Aaron and Jane. Harnick (d. 2007) was the brother of the musical lyricist Sheldon Harnick (Fiddler on the Roof).

She was treated successfully for rectal cancer in 1994, and wrote a memoir, Second Act: Life After Colostomy and Other Adventures, about the experience.


Barrie has had a lengthy career on stage and in film and television. In the early 1950s, she appeared in seven television productions before receiving her first starring role, in the "Wait For Me" installment of the Robert Montgomery Presents series.[3] Her professional theater debut came in 1953, in a Corning, New York, production of The Moon Is Blue, with her Broadway debut occurring in the short-lived The Wooden Dish.[6] She received the award for Prix d'interprétation féminine (best actress — tied with Anne Bancroft) at the 1964 Cannes Film Festival for her role in One Potato, Two Potato, a breakthrough film about an interracial marriage and institutionalized American anti-miscegenation.[6] Her other high-profile roles have been as Susan's (Brooke Shields) grandmother on the sitcom Suddenly Susan, and as the wife of the title character (portrayed by Hal Linden) on the comedy-drama Barney Miller. Intended to be a regular character on the show, and listed in the opening credits during Seasons 1 and 2, Barrie is seen fairly infrequently. In the mid-2000s, Barrie played a recurring role on the Showtime cable-TV drama series Dead Like Me. She also starred in the 1963 Twilight Zone episode "Miniature", alongside Robert Duvall, and in the 1964 episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, “Consider Her Ways”, based on the John Wyndham science fiction story.

In 1970, Barrie earned a Tony Award nomination for her role in the original Broadway production of Stephen Sondheim's musical Company, in which she played "Sarah", the weight-watching, karate-practicing married friend of the lead character, "Robert". In 1979 she was nominated for the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for her role in the sleeper hit Breaking Away. Also in 1979, she portrayed Mamie Eisenhower in the NBC miniseries Backstairs at the White House.

A near-encounter with Barrie is the subject of Christine Lavin's song "The Moment Slipped Away."

Barbara Barrie also acted as Aunt Margo of the twins (Liz and Jean Sagal) in the TV show Double Trouble in the '80s (1984 to 1985); she also played the part as the blind girl Celia in the episode "Even Stones Have Eyes" on Route 66 (second season, 1962). In 1993 she played Gloria Unger in the television movie The Odd Couple: Together Again, a role originated by Janis Hansen on the original series The Odd Couple.

Barrie is the author of two critically acclaimed novels for young adults: Lone Star (1989) and Adam Zigzag (1995).


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Pfefferman, Naomi (February 25, 2000). "Worshipping Suburbia". The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles. Archived from the original on October 27, 2006. Retrieved 2006-12-13. 
  2. ^ Barbara Barrie Biography (1931–)
  3. ^ a b No author. "Local girl in first starring role," Corpus Christi Caller-Times, February 17, 1957, page 7F.
  4. ^ No author. "Miss Barbara Berman receives scholarship," Corpus Christi Times, May 10, 1951, page 7C.
  5. ^ No author. "Miss Berman wins dramatic award," Corpus Christi Times, October 10, 1951, page 12.
  6. ^ a b No author. "Cannes Film Festival: former local girl wins acting award," Corpus Christi Times, May 14, 1964, page 1.
  7. ^ "Festival de Cannes: One Potato, Two Potato". Retrieved 2009-02-28. 

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