A football star in his high school and college days, Donald Barry forsook an advertising career in favor of a stage acting job with a stock company. This barnstorming work led to movie bit parts, the first of which was in RKO's Night Waitress (1936). Barry's short stature, athletic build and pugnacious facial features made him a natural for bad guy parts in Westerns, but he was lucky enough to star in the 1940 Republic serial The Adventures of Red Ryder; this and subsequent appearance as "Lone Ranger" clone Red Ryder earned the actor the permanent sobriquet Donald "Red" Barry. Republic promoted the actor to bigger-budget features in the 1940s, casting him in the sort of roles James Cagney might have played had the studio been able to afford Cagney. Barry produced as well as starred in a number of Westerns, but this venture ultimately failed, and the actor, whose private life was tempestuous in the best of times, was consigned to supporting roles before the 1950s were over. By the late 1960s, Barry was compelled to publicly entreat his fans to contribute one dollar apiece for a new series of Westerns. Saving the actor from further self-humiliation were such Barry aficionados as actor Burt Reynolds and director Don Siegel, who saw to it that Don was cast in prominent supporting roles during the 1970s, notably a telling role in Hustle (1976). In 1980, Don "Red" Barry killed himself -- a sad end to an erratic life and career.
by Hal Erickson biography