|Intro||American actress, singer and dancer|
|Is||Actor Dancer Stage actor Television actor|
|From||United States of America|
|Type||Dancing Film, TV, Stage & Radio|
|Birth||22 June 1923, Norfolk, Virginia, U.S.A.|
Barbara Perry (born June 22, 1923) is an American actress, singer and dancer who worked in both Hollywood and Broadway.
Early life and career
Perry was born in Norfolk, Virginia. Her father, William Covington Perry, of Hopewell, VA, was a classical and jazz keyboardist/orchestra+band conductor/orchestral arranger with the Happiness Boys, the New York NBC Radio Studios' (Blue Network) "Interwoven Stocking Co. Hour", his own band called "Perry's Hot Dogs", with Ben Selvin and his Orchestra, and with many Broadway shows. He died of TB in Banning, CA on 30 Oct 1936. Her mother, Victoria Mae (Gates) Perry of New Castle, PA, sang soprano in the chorus of the Metropolitan Opera at the Old Metropolitan Opera House under General Manager Giulio Gatti-Casazza starting around 1925 (He managed the Met for 27 seasons from 1908-1935).
Being separated from her husband around the time she sang with the Metropolitan Opera Chorus, as a form of "childcare", she enlisted her only daughter, Barbara, as a member of the children's ballet of the Met's corps de ballet. This was the start of Barbara's lifelong dance training and career. Barbara's daughter also became an international opera singer in the 1980s, and her ancestor Harriett Bellows Pierce (b. 9 Mar 1798, MA - d. 30 June 1860, Il) "...was educated in a college of music in Boston. She gave music and singing lessons on the frontier" while emigrating West.
Barbara began her film career in 1933, when she appeared in Counsellor at Law. She also had a small part in The Mystery of Edwin Drood in 1935.
She headlined as a solo dancer (ballet-tap) in many top line nightclubs internationally, including work on Broadway and off-Broadway, in various productions. She was Eddie Foy Jr.'s dance partner, playing Anna in "Rumple" at the Alvin Theatre in 1957, starring Gretchen Wyler and Stephen Douglass, and with a young Elliott Gould in the Chorus. In 1950 she was Mrs. Larry in "Happy as Larry" on Broadway, after a successful off-Broadway tour, directed by Burgess Meredith with sets by Alexander Calder.
By the mid-1950s to the early-1960s, she had studied acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, UK, while performing opposite George Formby, Warde Donovan, and Sara Gregory in "Zip Goes a Million" at the Hippadrom and Palace Theatres, and upon her return to the USA had started appearing in numerous television series such as The Donna Reed Show, The Andy Griffith Show, My Three Sons and The Dick Van Dyke Show, where she played Buddy Sorrell's wife Pickles, before being replaced by Joan Shawlee.
She also played Thelma Brockwood on The Hathaways.
As of 2014, Perry is still acting on television and in films. Her most recent role was Mrs. Douglas on two episodes of CBS's hit sitcom How I Met Your Mother.
She was first married to Bennett Warren James on the 13th of December 1953 in Las Vegas, NV, at the Flamingo Hotel and Casino where Barbara was Headlining in the Nightclub. Seymor Felix, Barbara's producer, gave Barbara away, as well as arranged and paid for the wedding. Barbara was headlining in the Nightclub with four backup dancers (Jerry Antes, Jack Regas, Cass Yeager, and Dick Nort) for Pearl Bailey, the Andrews Sisters, Kay Starr, etc.. They divorced in Los Angeles, CA on the 2nd of April 1965. They had one daughter, Laurel Lee James.
Her second marriage was to animator Art Babbitt on 14th of April 1967 in Hollywood, CA, until his death in 1992. They had no children.