Gene Barry was a ruggedly handsome actor who made a career of playing dapper and debonair lead characters on television beginning with the western series "Bat Masterson" in the late 1950s and later on "Burke's Law" and "The Name of the Game."
A versatile performer, Barry delivered a Tony-nominated performance in the hit 1980s Broadway musical "La Cage aux Folles."
A New York veteran of plays and musicals who became a Paramount contract player in 1951, Barry had more than a dozen movies and numerous TV appearances behind him, including starring in the science-fiction classic "The War of the Worlds," when he was offered the title role in "Bat Masterson."
Barry, however, wasn't interested in joining the era's crowded ranks of TV cowboys. Then someone told him that Masterson wore a derby and carried a gold-headed cane.
"That appealed to the actor in me," Barry recalled in a 1989 Associated Press interview. "If it hadn't been for that, I would have turned it down. I didn't want to be tied down doing a western. I went to wardrobe and found that hat and cane and an elegant swallowtail coat and shiny black boots. I looked at myself in the mirror, and I knew exactly how to play this man."