Barbara Barrie

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Barbara Barrie
Barrie in 1980
Barbara Ann Berman

(1931-05-23) May 23, 1931 (age 92)[1]
Alma materUniversity of Texas at Austin (B.F.A., 1952)
  • Actress
  • singer
  • author
Years active1953–present
Jay Harnick
(m. 1964; died 2007)

Barbara Barrie (born Barbara Ann Berman; May 23, 1931) is an American actress and author.

Her film breakthrough came in 1964 with her performance as Julie in the landmark film One Potato, Two Potato, for which she won the Best Actress Award at the Cannes Film Festival. She is best known for her role as Evelyn Stohler in Breaking Away, which brought her an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress in 1979 and an Emmy Award nomination in 1981 when she reprised the role in the television series based on the film.

On television, Barrie is perhaps best known for her portrayal of the wife of the namesake captain in the detective sitcom Barney Miller between 1975 and 1978. She also is known for her extensive work in the theatre, receiving a Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actress in a Musical in 1971 for originating the role of Sarah in Stephen Sondheim's Company.


One of Barrie's first professional stage jobs was a resident actress for one season for a theatre company in Corning, New York, where she played the lead in The Moon is Blue in 1953. She also worked at the Rochester Arena Theatre. She made her Broadway debut in the 1955 play The Wooden Dish with Louis Calhern.[2] In 1959, she appeared on Broadway in The Beaux' Stratagem by George Farquhar as Cherry. Some of her earliest Off-Broadway credits were in a 1958 production of The Crucible as Elizabeth Proctor and as Illse in a play version of Mädchen in Uniform directed by Walt Witcover. She was a repertory member of the American Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford for the 1958 and 1959 seasons, playing numerous Shakespearean roles to critical acclaim. In 1961 she went on tour in Europe as Annie Sullivan in The Miracle Worker.[3][4]

In 1969, she played Viola in Twelfth Night, directed by Joseph Papp at the Delacorte Theater. In 1970, Barrie originated the role of Sarah in Stephen Sondheim's musical Company, in a cast that included Elaine Stritch and Susan Browning. Company won the Tony Award for Best Musical and Barrie was nominated for Best Featured Actress in a Musical.[3]

In 1974, Barrie earned critical acclaim for her Off-Broadway performance as Sparky in The Killdeer by Jay Broad, for which she received an Obie Award for Best Actress and a Drama Desk Award for Most Outstanding Performance. In 1976, Barrie performed in Neil Simon's successful Broadway play California Suite.[4] Barrie played the female lead in the 1979 US premiere of Botho Strauß' 1978 play Big and Little at the Phoenix Theatre in the East Village, Manhattan.[5]

In 1995, Barrie performed in After-Play, written by Anne Meara at the Manhattan Theatre Club.[6] In 2004, Barrie was announced to play Yente in David Leveaux's Broadway revival of Fiddler on the Roof, and played the role during previews, but she departed over "creative differences" and was replaced by Nancy Opel.[7] In 2014, Barrie performed in I Remember Mama Off-Broadway, receiving an Outer Critics Circle nomination for Best Featured Actress in a Play.[4][8]

She appeared in the Joshua Harmon play Significant Other at the Booth Theatre on Broadway in 2017.[9][10] She had appeared in the play's premiere in the Roundabout Theatre Company's Off-Broadway production in 2015.


Barrie made her film debut uncredited in Giant (1956). Her first credited role was as Edna in The Caretakers in 1963. The following year, Barrie received her first leading role in film with One Potato, Two Potato, portraying Julie Cullen Richards, a divorced woman newly remarried to an African-American man while her ex-husband demands custody rights for their child, on grounds that their child is in danger because they are living with a man of color. The film was considered controversial when released, dealing with racial tensions at the time, and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Screenplay. She won the Cannes Best Actress Award for her performance.[citation needed]

In 1979, Barrie received critical acclaim for her role as Evelyn Stohler, the small-town mother of a young man who dreams of becoming an Italian bicycle racer in Breaking Away. Breaking Away was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture and Barrie was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. In 1980, she played the mother of Goldie Hawn's character in Private Benjamin. In the 1999 film, Judy Berlin, Barrie was nominated for an Indie Spirit Award for her performance as Sue Berlin, the mother of Edie Falco's character.[citation needed]


Barrie made her television debut in 1955 performing on Kraft Television Theatre. In 1956, she performed in Horton Foote's teleplay Flight as the sister of Kim Stanley's character. She guest-starred on two episodes of Decoy (1958–59). In 1962, she guest-starred on three episodes of Naked City. In 1963 she played Virginia in a teleplay version of The Dark Labyrinth by Lawrence Durrell. During the 1960s, Barrie guest-starred on many of the popular television series of the time. She appeared in three episodes of The Defenders and two episodes of Ben Casey.[citation needed] in 1962 she did an episode of Route 66 where she played a blind instructor (entitled "Even the stones have eyes"), and in 1963 appeared in episode "The Miniature" of The Twilight Zone, playing opposite the young Robert Duvall.

In 1964, Barrie appeared in two episodes of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. The first episode was "Isabel", in which Barrie performed the title role of Isabel Smith, the murder target of her husband Howard, played by Bradford Dillman. The second, titled "Consider Her Ways," also starred Barrie as the lead character, Jane Waterleigh. In 1965 Barrie guest starred as Aimee Rennick in The Fugitive. The episode, entitled "The End Is But The Beginning" is widely considered among fans to be one of the best of the 120 episodes. In 1967 she guest-starred in the TV series The Invaders in the episode "The Enemy". In 1975 Barrie was directed by Lee Grant in the television film For The Use Of The Hall as "Charlotte". In 1977 she appeared in two television films, as the mother of Lesley Ann Warren's character in 79 Park Avenue and as Emily McPhail in Tell Me My Name. In 1978 she played Emily Armsworth in the Disney television film Child of Glass, based on the novel The Ghost Belonged to Me by Richard Peck. In 1978 she played Mrs. Berg in the television film Summer of My German Soldier.[citation needed]

Barrie on the set of Barney Miller in 1975 with Hal Linden

From 1975 to 1978, Barrie was credited in 37 episodes of Barney Miller, starring Hal Linden, as Barney's wife Elizabeth. In the 1979 television mini-series Backstairs at the White House she portrayed Mamie Eisenhower. In the fall of 1980 a television series based on the film Breaking Away debuted on ABC with Barrie reprising her role as Evelyn Stoller. The show lasted only part of one season, but Barrie was nominated for an Emmy Award for her performance.[citation needed] Barrie reprised her role as Harriet Benjamin in the 1981 television series Private Benjamin, which was based on the 1980 film of the same name. Also in 1981, Barrie played Ethel Banks in a televised version of the play Barefoot in the Park by Neil Simon[citation needed] and appeared in the television film The Children Nobody Wanted in December of that year.

She guest-starred on a 1987 episode of Family Ties as Aunt Rosemary. For her performance as Mrs. Bream on a February 1992 episode of Law & Order ("Vengeance"), Barrie was nominated for the Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama. In 1994 she played the character of Pauline Robillard in the Emmy-winning mini-series Scarlett. In 1997 she voiced Alcmene, the adoptive mother of Hercules, in the Disney animated film Hercules and in 1998 she played the role of Ruth in the television film A Chance of Snow.[citation needed]

Barrie was credited in 92 episodes of the television series Suddenly Susan as Brooke Shields character's grandmother, Aileen Keane. For her performance in a May 2003 episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit ("Perfect") as Paula Haggerty, Barrie was nominated for the Emmy Award for Best Guest Actress in a Drama. In 2004 she appeared in Dead Like Me as Georgia's grandmother / Joy's mother. Her final television credits have included roles on Pushing Daisies, Nurse Jackie, and Enlightened.[citation needed]


Barrie has written two children's books. In 1990, she published Lone Star, a biographical book about a girl named Jane who moves from Illinois to Texas and deals with her Orthodox Jewish family assimilating to Texas culture.[11]

Her second book, Adam ZigZag, was published in 1994 and is also biographical, about a young boy named Adam with an actress mother who struggles with dyslexia.[12]

She is also the author of two books about her battle with colorectal cancer: Second Act (1997)[13] and Don't Die of Embarrassment (1999)[14] and has said that speaking out about early detection is "more important than acting."[15]

Personal life[edit]

Berman was born in Chicago, Illinois, but raised in Corpus Christi, Texas,[16] where she graduated from Corpus Christi Senior High School in 1948. She briefly attended Del Mar College as a journalism major, and then transferred to The University of Texas at Austin (UT-Austin), where she graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Drama in 1952. She then moved to New York to begin her professional career.[17]

During her time at UT-Austin, she received two scholarships for drama, including the Kappa Kappa Gamma Donna Dellinger annual scholarship for Most Outstanding Junior in the Drama Department,[18] as well as awards for specific performances, such as the Atlas Award from the Globe Theatre in San Diego for "Best Female Performance for 1950–51" based on her role in the California Theatre's summer production of Much Ado About Nothing as Beatrice.[19][20]

She married director, actor, and producer Jay Malcolm Harnick (1928–2007) in July 1964. They had two children, Jane Caroline Harnick (born 1965) and Aaron Louis Harnick (born 1969). Jay Harnick founded Theatreworks USA and was the brother of Tony Award-winning musical lyricist Sheldon Harnick.[21]

In 1972, Barrie signed her name to the Ms. campaign: “We Have Had Abortions” which called for an end to "archaic laws" limiting reproductive freedom, they encouraged women to share their stories and take action.[22]

She was treated successfully for rectal cancer in 1994. In September 2014, Barrie announced she had been diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, an incurable lung disease.[23] She lives in New York City.[10]



Year Title Role Notes
1956 Giant Mary Lou Decker Uncredited
1963 The Caretakers Edna
1964 One Potato, Two Potato Julie Cullen Richards Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Actress
Nominated—New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress
1972 To Be Young, Gifted, and Black Television film
1975 For the Use of the Hall Charlotte Television film
1978 Child of Glass Emily Armsworth Television film
Summer of My German Soldier Mrs. Bergen
1979 The Bell Jar Jay Cee
Breaking Away Evelyn Stoller Nominated—Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress
1980 To Race the Wind Mrs. Krents Television film
Private Benjamin Harriet Benjamin
1981 The Children Nobody Wanted Hanna Television film
1982 Barefoot in the Park Mrs. Banks Television film
Not Just Another Affair Martha Dawson Television film
Two of a Kind Dottie Minor Television film
1984 All Together Now Elly Parker Television film
1985 The Execution Sophie Langbein Television film
1986 Vital Signs Frances Television film
1987 End of the Line Jean Haney
Real Men Mom Pirandello
1988 Winnie Mandela Mrs. Drake Television film
My First Love Ruth Waxman Television film
1993 The Odd Couple Together Again Gloria Unger Television film
1997 Hercules Alcmene Voice
1998 A Chance of Snow Ruth Pulmer Television film
1999 Judy Berlin Sue Berlin Nominated—Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Female
30 Days Barbara Trainer
2000 $pent Mrs. Walsh
2004 Second Best Dorothea
2009 Frame of Mind Thelma
The Six Wives of Henry Lefay Mae
2010 Harvest Yetta Monopoli
Twelve Thirty Eve
2018 Above All Things Maggie
TBA The Magnificent Meyersons Post-production


Year Title Role Notes
1951 Love of Life Ginny Crandall Unknown episodes
1955 Pond's Theater Episode: "Cynara"
Kraft Television Theatre Episode: "Lady Ruth"
1956 Playwrights '56 Verna Anderson Episode: "Flight"
1957 Robert Montgomery Presents Maggie Correll Episode: "Wait for Me"
Suspicion Ethel Episode: "Heartbeat"
1958 Decoy Anne Episode: "My Brother's Killer"
1960 The Play of the Week Lila Episode: "A Palm Tree in a Rose Garden"
The Art Carney Special Episode: "Full Moon Over Brooklyn"
1961 The Defenders Fran Helber Episode: "The Attack"
Armstrong Circle Theatre Joanna Sommers Episode: "Black Market Babies"
The United States Steel Hour Trina Trent Episode: "Delayed Honeymoon"
1962 Route 66 Celia Episode: "Even Stones Have Eyes"
The Untouchables Cheryl Hines Episode: "The Chess Game"
Naked City Rosalind Faber, Sarah Hinson, Marcia Kormack 3 episodes
1963 Ben Casey Martha Dignan Episode: "Lullaby for Billy Dignan"
Dr. Kildare Peggy Farrow Episode: "The Mosaic"
The Virginian Ellen Beecher Episode: "The Small Parade"
The Twilight Zone Myra Russell Episode: "Miniature"
Alcoa Premiere Virginia Stanley Episode: "The Dark Labyrinth"
1964 Mr. Novak Mary Smith Episode: "How Does Your Garden Grow?"
The Doctors and the Nurses Laura Crane Episode: "The Love of a Smart Operator"
The Defenders Shirley Lowell 2 episodes
The Alfred Hitchcock Hour Isabel Smith Episode: "Isabel"
The Alfred Hitchcock Hour Dr. Jane Waterleigh Episode: "Consider Her Ways"
1965 The Fugitive Aimee Rennick Episode: "The End Is But the Beginning"
Ben Casey Ellen Tevlin Episode: "A Rambling Discourse on Egyptian Water Clocks"
Rawhide Liz Harmon Episode: "Mrs. Harmon"
1966 The Trials of O'Brien Jean Fields Episode: "A Horse Called Destiny"
Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre Laurel Catlan Episode: "The Eighth Day"
1967 Ironside Myra Dupont Episode: "The Leaf in the Forest"
The Invaders Gale Frazer Episode 5: "The Enemy"
1971 Play for Today Episode: "The Rank and File"
1973 The ABC Afternoon Playbreak Tina Bordeaux Episode: "The Mask of Love"
Koska and His Family Isabel Koska Episode: "Pilot"
1973–1974 Diana Norma Brodnick 10 episodes
1974 The Mary Tyler Moore Show Judith Chandler Episode: "I Love A Piano"
1975–1978 Barney Miller Elizabeth Miller 37 credited episodes (appeared in 11)
1975 Bronk Lorna Episode: "Terror"
McMillan & Wife Emily Church Episode: "Aftershock"
1977 79 Park Avenue Kaati Fludjicki 1 episode
1978 Visions Episode: "Blackout"
1979 Backstairs at the White House Mrs. Mamie Eisenhower Episode: "#1.4"
Roots: The Next Generations Dodie Brattle Episode: "#1.7"
Lou Grant Edna Raines 2 episodes
1980–1981 Breaking Away Evelyn Stoller 8 episodes
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
1981 Private Benjamin Harriet Benjamin Episode: "Bye, Bye Benjamin"
1982 American Playhouse Schoolteacher Episode: "Working"
1982–1983 Tucker's Witch Ellen Hobbes 12 episodes
1983 Reggie Elizabeth Potter 6 episodes
1984 Trapper John, M.D. Dr. Kate Hanley Episode: "All Fall to Grace"
1984–1985 Double Trouble Aunt Margo 15 episodes
1986 Kate & Allie Anne Episode: "Late Bloomer"
1987 Mr. President Peggie 2 episodes
Family Ties Aunt Rosemary Episode: "The Way We Were"
1988–1990 Thirtysomething Barbara Steadman 2 episodes
1989 A Fine Romance Aunt Grace Episode: "A Horse is a Horse, Of Course, Of Course"
1990 His & Hers 2 episodes
1991 Babes Mom Episode: "Mom"
1992 Law & Order Mrs. Bream Episode: "Vengeance"
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
ABC Afterschool Special Anne Charney 2 episodes
1993 Lovejoy Miss Lillian Episode: "The Lost Colony"
1994 CBS Schoolbreak Special Shirley Episode: "My Summer As a Girl"
Scarlett Pauline Robillard 2 episodes
The Commish Ann Palmer Episode: "A Christmas Story"
1996–2000 Suddenly Susan Helen Keane 92 episodes
1998 Hercules Alcmene Voice, episode: "Hercules and the Parents' Weekend"
2000 Once and Again Peg Sammler Episode: "Feast Famine"
2003 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Paula Haggerty Episode: "Perfect"
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series
2004 Dead Like Me Phyllis 2 episodes
2007 Pushing Daisies Mamma Jacobs Episode: "Girth"
2009 Surviving Suburbia Val Episode: "No Reception"
Army Wives Virginia Episode: "As Time Goes By..."
2010 Nurse Jackie Libby Sussman Episode: "Silly String"
2011 Enlightened Carol Episode: "Consider Helen"


  1. ^ Leszczak, Bob (2014). The Odd Couple on Stage and Screen: A History with Cast and Crew Profiles and an Episode Guide. McFarland. p. 25. ISBN 9781476615394. Retrieved January 28, 2022.
  2. ^ "Barbara Barrie: Performer". Playbill. Retrieved May 13, 2020.
  3. ^ a b Barbara Barrie at the Internet Broadway Database
  4. ^ a b c Barbara Barrie at the Internet Off-Broadway Database
  5. ^ Simon, John (April 16, 1979). "From Top to Botho". New York. p. 90. Retrieved June 22, 2016.
  6. ^ Canby, Vincent. " After-Play Review", The New York Times, February 1, 1995, accessed February 19, 2017
  7. ^ Simonson, Robert; Jones, Kenneth (February 16, 2004). "Nancy Opel Replaces Barbara Barrie in Broadway's Fiddler Feb. 17". Playbill. Retrieved January 27, 2022.
  8. ^ Brantley, Ben (March 30, 2014). "Barbara Barrie reminisces". The New York Times. Retrieved May 13, 2020.
  9. ^ Gans, Andrew (February 14, 2017). "Significant Other Begins Previews on Broadway Valentine's Day", Playbill.
  10. ^ a b Kaufman, Joanne (February 10, 2017). "Barbara Barrie's Loft in the Sky". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved August 5, 2022.
  11. ^ Barrie, Barbara (October 1992). Lone Star. Random House Children's Books. ISBN 978-0440407188. Retrieved May 13, 2020.
  12. ^ Review: Adam ZigZag,Publishers Weekly; accessed November 24, 2014.
  13. ^ Barrie, Barbara (1997). Second Act: Life After Colostomy and Other Adventures. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 978-0-684-83587-7.
  14. ^ Barrie, Barbara (March 18, 1999). Don't Die of Embarrassment: Life After Colostomy and Other Adventures. Scribner. ISBN 978-0-684-84624-8.
  15. ^ Phiffer, Cindy (May–June 1998). "Barbara Barrie – Colostomy and Other Adventures". Coping with Cancer. Archived from the original on June 4, 2016. Retrieved October 26, 2015.
  16. ^ Pfefferman, Naomi (February 25, 2000). "Worshipping Suburbia". The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles. Archived from the original on October 27, 2006. Retrieved December 13, 2006.
  17. ^ "Local girl in first starring role," Corpus Christi Caller-Times, February 17, 1957, p. 7F.
  18. ^ "Miss Barbara Berman receives scholarship," Corpus Christi Times, May 10, 1951, p. 7C.
  19. ^ "Miss Berman wins dramatic award," Corpus Christi Times, October 10, 1951, p. 12.
  20. ^ Guide to the Barbara Barrie papers 1949–2008, New York Public Library, Billy Rose Theatre Division; accessed November 24, 2014.
  21. ^ Robertson, Campbell (March 1, 2007). "Jay Harnick, 78, Advocate of Theater for Children, Dies". The New York Times. Retrieved May 13, 2020.
  22. ^ Diamondstein, Barbara D. (Spring 1972). "We have had abortions" (PDF). New York: 34–35. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 12, 2019. Retrieved May 27, 2019.
  23. ^ Gans, Andrew (September 23, 2014). "Barbara Barrie Reveals Diagnosis with Incurable Lung Disease". Playbill. Retrieved May 13, 2020.

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