Gene Barry was involved in politics during most of his adult life. He came close to running for a seat in the U.S. Senate at one time. He may yet, although he says, "I have the charisma, but not the panacea." He has been very civic minded and has always been most happy to lend his name and energy to a just cause. He makes personal appearances for half a dozen charitable groups, and he yearns to be more involved in turning the tide of bigotry in our society. He was the recipient of the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith Man of the Year Award in l985. "I'm sensitive to the needs of people. I can't help relating to the have-nots. I've been one," he said. And, after 3 enormously successful television series, Gene Barry has worked himself up from a beat-up old Kaiser-Frazer that Paramount refused to let him park on the lot, to a Studebaker 6, to a used Cadillac, to a T-Bird, to a new Cadillac during "Bat Masterson," to a Lincoln Continental during "Burke's Law," to his own Rolls Royce during "The Name of the Game."
With all of the pre-occupation in the movies, television and stage, Gene Barry has always led a model family life. The family, he says, is extremely important to him and comes before his career. When his boys were small, he was a member of the National Boys Scouts of America and even attended PTA meetings. When his daughter Liza came along, fatherhood for Gene Barry was complete. He showered loving attention on the little girl he had always wanted. The Barry family is one of the precious few in Hollywood that has escaped even a fragment of gossip, and the marriage of over 50 years has been a testament to what a family is all about.
As Gene Barry would return to Broadway, so would Bat Masterson return to television. In 1989, with Hugh O'Brian as Wyatt Earp, Gene Barry got to ride the video range again as Bat Masterson in a two-part episode of "Paradise: A Gathering of Guns." Later, in 1991, he also played Bat in a Kenny Rogers mini-series, "The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw."
In 1994, 28 years after the original series, a re-make of "Burke's Law" returned to prime time television. At a time when he could have been enjoying retirement, Gene Barry also returned as Amos Burke. He had no trouble signing on. He said, "It would have been very difficult for me to allow another actor to play the role." So, after a long career in film, television and theatre, Barry was ready for work again. His hair was gray, his voice thicker, but Amos Burke was still the suave, sophisticated chief of homicide detectives. He still had his Rolls, his chauffeur, Henry, and a quaint saying for every occasion along with that breathy female voice intoning the title. This time around, he had been upgraded to a gigillionaire, with a son, Peter (Burke had married and been widowed during those 28 years) who was following in Dad's footsteps and helping the Chief solve crimes on the LA police force. There were still the beautiful women, but Amos Burke's romantic escapades that we once enjoyed were reduced to flirtatious glances or a peck on the cheek. (Sigh!)
Unfortunately, the revival series did not catch on with an audience in the 90s. Prophetically, in an exchange between Amos and Peter in the first episode, "Lullaby and Goodnight," Peter said, "It's never easy." Amos replied, "Burke's Law."
Since the end of this series, Mr. Barry's contribution to the entertainment industry has continued to delight audiences through re-runs of his movies and television shows on the small screen. He stayed active with club appearances, special events and an occasional guest shot on television, his popularity and enthusiasm to entertain audiences not having dimmed with age or circumstance. Many of his movies and television shows have been preserved on home video for his fans to enjoy.
Gene Barry passed away on December 9, 2009 at the age of 90.