Bari in 1939
Margaret Schuyler Fisher
December 18, 1913
Roanoke, Virginia, U.S.
|Died||November 20, 1989 (aged 75)|
Santa Monica, California, U.S.
Walter Kane (m. 1939–1943)
(m. 1943; div. 1950)
(m. 1955; div. 1972)
Lynn Bari (born Margaret Schuyler Fisher, December 18, 1913 - November 20, 1989) was a film actress who specialized in playing sultry, statuesque man-killers in roughly 150 20th Century Fox films from the early 1930s through the 1940s.
Bari was one of 14 young women "launched on the trail of film stardom" August 6, 1935, when they each received a six-month contract with 20th Century Fox after spending 18 months in the company's training school. The contracts included a studio option for renewal for as long as seven years.
In most of her early films, Bari had uncredited parts usually playing receptionists or chorus girls. She struggled to find starring roles in films, but accepted any work she could get. Rare leading roles included China Girl (1942), Hello, Frisco, Hello (1943), and The Spiritualist (1948). In B movies, Bari was usually cast as a villainess, notably Shock and Nocturne (both 1946). An exception was The Bridge of San Luis Rey (1944). During WWII, according to a survey taken of GIs, Bari was the second-most popular pinup girl after the much better-known Betty Grable.
Bari's film career fizzled out in the early 1950s as she was approaching her 40th birthday, although she continued to work at a more limited pace over the next two decades, now playing matronly characters rather than temptresses. She portrayed the mother of a suicidal teenager in a 1951 drama, On the Loose, plus a number of supporting parts.
Bari's last film appearance was as the mother of rebellious teenager Patty McCormack in The Young Runaways (1968) and her final TV appearances were in episodes of The Girl From U.N.C.L.E. and The FBI.
She quickly took up the rising medium of television during the '50s, which began when she starred in the live television sitcom Detective's Wife, which ran during the summer of 1950, and in Boss Lady
In 1955, Bari appeared in the episode "The Beautiful Miss X" of Rod Cameron's syndicated crime drama City Detective. In 1960, she played female bandit Belle Starr in the debut episode "Perilous Passage" of the NBC western series Overland Trail starring William Bendix and Doug McClure and with fellow guest star Robert J. Wilke as Cole Younger.
From July-September 1952, Bari starred in her own situation comedy, Boss Lady, a summer replacement for NBC's Fireside Theater. She portrayed Gwen F. Allen, the beautiful top executive of a construction firm. Not the least of her troubles in the role was being able to hire a general manager who did not fall in love with her.
Commenting on her "other woman" roles, Bari once said, "I seem to be a woman always with a gun in her purse. I'm terrified of guns. I go from one set to the other shooting people and stealing husbands!"
Bari was the only daughter of John Maynard Fisher, a native of Tennessee, and his wife, Marjorie Halpen of New York. She had a younger brother, John. Fisher died in 1920, and his widow moved the family to Lynchburg, Virginia. Here Bari's mother met and married the Reverend Robert Bizer, a Religious Science minister. Assigned a position with his church in Boston, Bizer moved the family to Massachusetts. Bari later recalled other children at school in Boston made life miserable for her brother and her, making constant fun of their obvious Southern accents. She determined to eliminate hers, becoming involved with amateur theatrics and taking elocution lessons. Bari was enthusiastic when at the age of 13 she was told her stepfather had been reassigned to Los Angeles, where he later became the head of the Institute of Religious Science.
Her stage name, selected as 'Lynn Barrie' while at dramatic school at 14, is a composite of theater actress Lynn Fontanne and author J. M. Barrie. After reading a story about the Italian city of Bari, she decided to change the spelling.
Bari's promising career was sabotaged by unresolved problems with her domineering, alcoholic mother and three marriages.
Bari was married to agent Walter Kane, producer Sid Luft, and psychiatrist Dr. Nathan Rickles. Luft married Bari November 28, 1943. They divorced December 26, 1950. She and Rickles wed August 30, 1955; they divorced in 1972. Bari's first child, a daughter with Luft, was born August 7, 1945, in St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, California, but died the next day. Two years later, she had a son, John Michael Luft (b. 1948). John Michael was the subject of "a bitter custody battle" between Luft and Bari. A judge in Los Angeles ruled in Bari's favor in November 1958, ruling that the Luft household "was an improper place in which to rear the boy."
In the 1960s, Bari toured in a production of Barefoot in the Park, playing the bride's mother. After retiring from acting in the 1970s, Bari moved to Santa Monica, California. In her last years, she suffered increasing problems with arthritis.
On November 20, 1989, Bari was found dead in her home of an apparent heart attack. She was cremated and her ashes scattered at sea. In 2010, film historian Jeff Gordon published an authorized biography titled Foxy Lady written from interviews completed shortly before Bari's death.
|1947||Rexall Summer Theater||Starred (with Pat O'Brien) in summer replacement for The Durante-Moore Show|
||Suspense||July 24, 1947 "Murder by an Expert"|
|1952||Screen Guild Theatre||"Heaven Can Wait"|