Ray Barrett

Active - 1960 - 2008  |   Born - May 2, 1927   |   Died - Sep 9, 2009   |   Genres - Drama, Thriller, Crime, Comedy, Mystery

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Biography by Bruce Eder

Australian actor Ray Barrett was one of the more popular leading men on British television in the 1960s; he was on the series The Troubleshooters from 1965-1971 and did voices on the Gerry Anderson marionette series Stingray and Thunderbirds. It was only in the decades that followed that he emerged to big-screen stardom in his native country. Born in Brisbane in 1927, he was fascinated by radio -- then a marvelous new entertainment medium -- and won an on-air talent competition in 1939. At the age of 16, Barrett went to work as an announcer, and later did interviews and even sang on the air. Eventually, he started doing plays, and was put under contract to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, through which he did everything from Shakespeare to tales of Tarzan. He made the jump to television in the early '50s, including an appearance on the adventure series Long John Silver (1955), starring Robert Newton. Barrett also worked with John Bluthal (A Hard Day's Night, Help!) on a comedy series called The Idiot Weekly, and with Spike Milligan on a 1958 television special. In 1959, Barrett moved to England and, over the next few years, appeared in a string of series, including Educating Archie, Armchair Mystery Theatre, Emergency Ward 10, Man of the World, First Night, Harpers West One, Z Cars, Doctor Who, The Saint, and The Avengers. He also made a lasting impression as a voice artist on Gerry and Sylvia Anderson's series Stingray as the voice of Commander Sam Shore (heard at the beginning of every episode's credit sequence) as well as several other characters. He also did the voice of John Tracy (in addition to numerous other characters) in the Anderson series Thunderbirds and the movie adaptation Thunderbirds Are Go!

Barrett's film career began in 1960 with a prominent appearance in the drama The Sundowners, starring Robert Mitchum. His other movies during this period included the Val Guest mystery film Jigsaw (1961) and a starring role in the Hammer Films chiller The Reptile (1966). Inn of the Frightened People (1971) was a good showcase for his talents, but it was in the mid-'70s (when he returned to Australia) that he finally became a star. He was cast by Bruce Beresford in a major role in Don's Party (1976), which was widely seen around the world, and then Fred Schepisi used him in a leading role as a racist constable in The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (1978). That portrayal earned Barrett the Australian Film Institute award for Best Supporting Actor (the Aussie equivalent of an Oscar). His performance in Goodbye Paradise (1982) won him the Best Actor Award and he enjoyed starring roles right into the '90s. In the years since, Barrett played major supporting and character roles in such pictures as Blood Oath (1991) and In the Winter Dark (1998). He primarily did TV work in the early 2000s.

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