On "Bat Masterson," Gene Barry had sported derby and cane. In "Burke's Law," he was driven around in a Rolls Royce. As Glenn Howard, he was filthy rich, occupied a posh executive suite with private elevator, Roman bath, gym and sauna. He knew all the right people, attended all the right parties. He was a dandified, power-wielding ladies' man and a smooth talker, never wanting for a witty line. But Barry insisted there was more to his third of the show than mere distraction from reality. "On my shows, we said some pretty strong things. We've taken on bigotry, the Czechoslovakian situation, and biological warfare. I've said more than I've ever been able to say before on series TV." The show won many Emmy Awards over the 3 years it was in production.
After the demise of "The Name of the Game," Gene Barry had another, albeit brief, series entitled, "The Adventurer," in 1972, filmed in England. In his usual role as a suave sophisticate, he played Steve Bradley, a multi-millionaire businessman who adopts the guise of an international film star doubling as a spy. Businessman, film star, and spy - all in one!
In 1973, Gene Barry formed his own production company and filmed, "The Second Coming of Suzanne," with himself as executive producer and son Michael as writer/director.
During the next few years, Mr. Barry focused on such matters as campaigning for Democratic liberals, painting in oils, writing his autobiography and working in big budget made-for-television movies and mini-series. He had some guest appearances on such popular series, as "The Love Boat," "Fantasy Island," and "Charlie's Angels." His "second career" was doing commercial voice-overs for Gulf Oil, Haggar Slacks, and Budweiser Beer.
In 1982, Barry and his wife, Betty, appeared in the stage production of "Watergate: A Musical," which premiered at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, GA. He had returned to the stage where he started his multifaceted performing career. Barry, who played the role of Richard Nixon, commented, "'Watergate: A Musical' was a serious but entertaining look at the man and the era that devastated our country." "Not a spoof," he said, "but a realistic, honest look at the facts with some artistic license taken to lighten things up."
He had missed the stage. "If I had done what I should have, I would have maintained our home in New York and a home in LA. I would have been bi-coastal and would not have stayed for television. I would have done my movies and gone back to New York each year to do theatre. It's my big regret. I didn't do that. That's why this show is very important to us." He and Betty had performed on stage together in other plays, such as "The Fourposter," "Fiddler on the Roof," and "Once More With Feeling." However, the play that brought Gene Barry back to theatre had an unexpectedly short run, only about 3 weeks.
But the stage was still in the heart of Gene Barry. And Gene Barry was still in the heart of the theatre. When his career was sagging so badly that he was all set to move to Palm Springs in semi-retirement, the call came. Would Barry, the suave, all-man, hero of the TV series, "Bat Masterson," "Burke's Law," and "The Name of the Game" be interested in playing the homosexual lover of a drag queen in a Broadway musical? A family man, Barry tentatively broached the subject over dinner. Sons Michael and James reassured Dad that, no, audiences wouldn't necessarily assume he was gay. Daughter Liza was equally upbeat, and wife, Betty, urged her husband to go for it.