December 11, 2009

"The idea of playing a saddle-type cowboy was repulsive to me."

"Then he told me about the derby hat and cane, and I went by the costume department and saw the outfit that Masterson would wear, and I couldn’t resist."

RIP Gene Barry AKA Bat Masterson.


ricpic said...

How do they do it? The dudes who never get wrinkled or stained? I'll go to my grave not knowing the answer to that one.

David said...

Palladin got wrinkled and stained. He was much cooler.

Scott said...

I remember him on TV in "The Name of the Game." He played a very cool character in a very cool series. A life well lived, hopefully.

Wince said...

Barry and the Masterson character were a little before my time.

But what struck me watching it was how much the actor's facial expressions reminded me of they way Patrick Swayze worked.

The start of the clip even reminded me of Road House -- a cool cucumber strutting amidsts the mayhem of the rabble, a casually-dodged punch and the brush off of the town slut who catches his attention.

tomas said...

Bat Masterson was a fascinating character. He was a buffalo hunter and scout for the military in the 1870's (during his late teens and early twenties). He became the surveyor at Mobeetie, Texas earning a steady income which provided the ability to dress as somewhat of a dandy. A gun fight there left him with a gunfighter reputation and a wound in the groin necessitating the cane. He was a participant at the OK Corral with the Earp brothers and Doc Holliday. He ended his career as a sports writer in New York City, dying in his mid 60s.

William said...

According to the tomas post just above, Masterson had a groin wound that necessitated using a cane. The cane was thus a sign of debility and the very opposite of a phallic symbol. But, as presented on the TV show, the bat becomes an imperial baton and an elegant accoutrement....I am not going to make any tortured comparisons to Materston's cane and Obama's Nobel because that would be wrong.

vbspurs said...

RIP to a guy I've never heard of. "Bat Masterson" sounds like every World War II RAF pilot I've ever known, though.


EK said...

To me, he'll always be Dr. Clayton Forester from George Pal's 1953 film version of H.G. Wells' "War of the Worlds." "He's top man in astro- and nuclear physics. He knows all about meteors!"

sort of runic rhyme said...

A meteor role?

I always thought of Barry as a good-looking genius actor, but somehow lost track of his career when he left "Catherine." God bless

Unknown said...

Aside from Bill Hickock, if there was a real "fastest gun in the West", Bat was probably it. He would practice publicly during his days as Ford County (KS) sheriff to let the would-be roughs know he wasn't the easy touch his brother, Ed, was (Ed Masterson was marshal of Dodge City before Wyatt Earp and was gunned down by a drunken cowboy, largely because he tried to disarm the man without drawing his gun first). Bat's brother, Jim, was later one of Wyatt's deputies.

Bat popularized the hair trigger in six-shooters and used his cane, like his gunfighting reputation, to dissuade bad guys short of shooting it out.

Those struck by the fact that there was a set of Masterson brothers, just like the Earps might be interested in the fact that the West was full of famous brothers - Custer (Armstrong and Tom(first ever double Medal of Honor winner)), James (Jesse and Frank), North (Tom and Luther, who commanded the first Pawnee scout battalion), and Carson (Kit, Mose, Bob, etc.) among many others. Anyone familiar with the stories of Louis L'Amour knows his novels about the Sacketts are in a similar vein.

Gene Barry hated the fact that he was identified by most people by his character's name instead of his own and once bopped a kid on the head with his cane when the ten year-old asked, "Can I have your autograph, Bat?". From what I gather, he was not well-liked by his fellow actors.

The show (1958 - 62) itself was essentially "Maverick" with more women and a few more gunfights. Aside from playing Bat, Barry's biggest success was "Burke's Law" which, ironically, gave him all kinds of opportunities to spoof his Western alter ego.

Trooper York said...

In fact “Burke’s Law” was one of the most enjoyable detective series of the 1960’s or in fact of all time. Gene Barry was a suave and debonair presence that did everything was an elegant style sadly missing in this age of tattoos of the recipe for General Tso’s chicken on your arms and pants hanging off your ass.

In “Burke’s Law” Gene Barry played millionaire police captain Amos Burke in a series that pioneered the use of high profile guest stars who were the suspects in that week’s crime. Produced by Aaron Spelling who later used to formula to much greater success in the “Love Boat” and “Fantasy Island” it was the first of its kind to set the formula for so much of episodic television to follow.

The real attraction for fellow boulevardiers and aficionado’s of the female form is the fact that almost every episode featured one of the most beautiful starlets of the day. A dewy fresh Barbara Eden long before she met Major Nelson but still looking for her master, a winsome and gentle pre-Bewitched Elizabeth Montgomery, the first true supermodel Suzy Parker, the elegant bejeweled Elizabeth Allen, the classic beauty Dina Merrill, the limber and exquisite Juliet Prowse, the fiery post West Side Story Rita Moreno, and the surprising firm and toothsome Zsa Zsa Gabor in her prime. And playing his foil and nemesis a beautiful and accomplished actress who is forgotten today in the one and only Eileen O’Neil a truly stunning colleen graced with wit and charm and a wonderful bantering and playful personality. A veritable cornucopia of beauty and charm whose absence is much lamented in these days of Lady Gaga and the floozy whores of “Flava of Love.”

Gene Barry was the epitome of style and grace as he solved the complicated crime every week and often went off in the sunset with that weeks lovely. A young boy sitting enraptured at the lovely young women as he sat staring at his black and white TV screen could only aspire to some day reach his level of self-assured style as a man of the world.

Gene Barry, I salute you. May you rest in peace.

Trooper York said...

Also, the real Bat Masterson did not participate in the Gunfight at the OK corral. He in fact conveniently left Tombstone a few days before the conflict erupted. In reality he was a corrupt and brutal man like his partners the Earps and who specialized in crooked gambling and pimping out down on their luck women. He rejoiced in abusing widows and stealing from orphans. Al Swearengen with a better press agent. He later went on to a long career fixing prizefights and ended his life in the perfect career for a totally amoral thief and liar.

He became a journalist.

Ralph L said...

In 1999, the 78-year-old Mr. Barry
He aged rather quickly to die at 90.

All I can remember about his show is "His name is Bat...Bat Masterson"

wv - flarwer - that's why he took the part

Unknown said...

FWIW Trooper's view of Bat doesn't seem to be borne out by history, but is the left wing take, in use since Harriet vanHorne trotted it out in the early '60s.

Trooper York said...

I am far from left wing my friend but you should not believe the self promoting lies that Wyatt Earp spread like horse manure on roses in his Hollywood years. Or more properly his wife Josephine Marcus the former prostitute who built the legend of Wyatt Earp did in her tireless self-promotion. She tried to peddle a pack of lies in a book entitled "I married Wyatt Earp" when in fact she never did.

The white washed version of the lives of the Earps, Mastersons and other western heros was fare for the forties and fifties when everything was painted in the best light because the studios wanted heros not complicated by the truth. The truth is much more as it was portrayed in the TV show Deadwood where the Earps are protrayed as the opportunistic scumbags they really were. They were rough men who lived in rough times and were far from angels.
The Earps and the Masterson were a lot closer to Liberty Valance than they were to Tom Doniphan. But when the legend becomes fact, print the legend.

Bat Masterson was definately white washed in the TV series and you are certainly entitled to cling to you child like admiration for the Western hero of your youth. I am convinced that he was in fact a depraved lowlife without any redeeming charateristics because he did find contentment as a journalist at the end of his life.

No more need be said. Noting is lower than that.

Trooper York said...

On the other hand, Gene Barry was one really cool guy.

And that after all is the point.

Cedarford said...

Wow, the Trooper comes back with a tour de force!

I don't know much about Bat Masterson or Gene Barry (sounds like he had several great shows I never saw and the War of the Worlds, which I have seen and enjoyed.)

But I am a huge fan of the movie Tombstone. Must have watched it 7 times. Maybe it isn't how it actually was, but it is how I want it to be in my mind.

I did see the old series "Palladin" with Richard Boone when TBS or TNT recycled it one year. Tried one episode, liked it a lot, and found each episode was pretty good stuff. Better than the few old Bonanza and Gunsmoke western serials I saw. More adult. Palladin the show aged well. Hard for me to see Bonanza and Gunsmoke were once top-rated shows.

BUt thanks for the info on the Earps, Trooper. I think you were a little harsh...but informative.

Trooper York said...

Cedarford, the Earps and the Clantons were just the Crips and the Bloods of their day. The Gunfight at the OK Corral was just a glorified drive by.

Someone who was a real western hero and who wasn't prettied up for the movies was Tom Horn. A career very similar to Hickock and Earp, he was never glorified or prettied up by the movies. And his end was one that should have been shared by Earp, Masterson and all the rest.

He was hung by the neck until he was dead.

Trooper York said...

If you have a chance check out the first season of Burkes Law that just came out on DVD a few months ago.

For the babes alone it is worth renting.