Don "Red" Barry

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Don "Red" Barry
Film still of Barry in The Traitor Within (1942)
Milton Poimboeuf

(1910-01-11)January 11, 1910 (1909, 1911, and 1912 also cited; 1910 aligns with most records and the Social Security Death Index)[1]
DiedJuly 17, 1980
Resting placeForest Lawn Memorial Park, Hollywood Hills, California, U.S.
Occupation(s)Actor, writer
Years active1933–1980
(m. 1940; div. 1944)
  • Ona-Dell Ward (m. 1947; div. before 1952)
Barbara Patin
(m. 1963)

Don "Red" Barry ( Milton Poimboeuf; January 11, 1910[1] – July 17, 1980), also 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 with Noah Beery Sr.;[2] 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".

Early years[edit]

Barry was born Milton Poimboeuf in Houston, Texas[2] to parents Louis Leonce Poimboeuf and Emma Elizabeth (Murray) Poimboeuf. The year has been disputed, with estimates ranging between 1909 and 1912. However, his mother died of tuberculosis in March 1910 (one month shy of her 20th birthday), rendering subsequent years impossible.[1] He attended Allen Academy[3] and the Texas School of Mines.[4] Prior to acting, Barry had been a high school and college football player. He went to Los Angeles to work in advertising.[5]



Barry's initial venture into acting was in a production of Tobacco Road on stage in New York in the late 1930s.[6]


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.[7] 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 head 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.[8] 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.

Don "Red" Barry and Wally Vernon in The Man from the Rio Grande (1943)

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.

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, as well as an even larger titular role in a James Garner episode set in New Orleans titled "The Resurrection of Joe November." 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 with William Holden and a one-eyed Richard Widmark. Barry played a supporting role in the 1968 film, Shalako with Sean Connery, as well as in the television series Dragnet.[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 racist farmer Judd Larrabee,[citation needed] and was a recurring character, Lt. Ray Snedigar, on the 1960s detective show Surfside 6. He also appeared in all-star TV miniseries, such as Rich Man, Poor Man Book II and The Dream Merchants.


Barry at a party at the National Film Society convention, May 1979

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).[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

Barry and actress Peggy Stewart were married in 1940 and divorced on April 12, 1944.[10] He married Ona-Dell Ward on October 6, 1947. They divorced sometime before 1952. In early November 1955, Susan Hayward got into a physical altercation with another woman who caught her visiting Barry's apartment reportedly for an early morning coffee, which made the tabloids and became the source of insider jokes.[11]


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.[6] He was estranged at the time from his third wife, Barbara, with whom he had two daughters. He is interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in the Hollywood Hills of Los Angeles.[12]

Selected filmography[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Biodata, Accessed December 21, 2023.
  2. ^ a b Cline, William C. (1997). In the Nick of Time: Motion Picture Sound Serials. McFarland. pp. 71–72. ISBN 9780786404711. Retrieved April 11, 2017.
  3. ^ "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 Open access icon
  4. ^ Willis, John (1966). Screen World, 1966. Biblo & Tannen Publishers. p. 221. ISBN 9780819603074. Retrieved April 11, 2017.
  5. ^ 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 Open access icon
  6. ^ a b "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 Open access icon
  7. ^ p. 29 Savage, William W. The Cowboy Hero: His Image in American History & Culture University of Oklahoma Press, 1979
  8. ^ p. 109 Tuska, Jon A Variable Harvest: Essays and Reviews of Film and Literature McFarland & Co., 1990
  9. ^ p. 126 Herzberg, Bob Shooting Scripts: From Pulp Western to Film McFarland, March 24, 2005.
  10. ^ "Divorces". Billboard. May 27, 1944. p. 32. Retrieved April 11, 2017.
  11. ^ Eduardo Moreno, The Films of Susan Hayward, Citadel Press, Secaucus, NJ, 1979, p. 142.
  12. ^ Wilson, Scott. Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed.: 2 (Kindle Locations 25047-25048). McFarland & Company Inc., Publishers. Kindle Edition.

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