Wesley Barry: From “Ham and Bud” to “Humanoids”

Wesley Barry (1907-1994). May be said to have had several different film careers, doing several different jobs on several different kinds of films.

First he was a child star, initially at Kalem Studios. His first picture was The Phony Cannibal (1915) with Ham and Bud. Rebecca of Sunny Brook Farm (1917) was his first feature. He was also in Daddy Long Legs with Mary Pickford and DeMille’s Male and Female with Gloria Swanson, both in 1919. Soon he was starring in his own features, such as Dinty (1920), Penrod (1922), Rags to Riches (1922), and George Washington Jr (1924) among many others.

In the sound era Barry rapidly sank to small supporting parts, and you can see him as such in films like John Ford’s The Plough and the Stars and Hal Roach’s Pick a Star, both 1937, although he did get to play the title character in the B movie western The Mexicali Kid (1938). He stopped acting regularly after Stunt Pilot (1939). His last screen appearance was a walk-on in Ladies Day (1943) with Lupe Velez and Patsy Kelly.

In 1946 Barry reinvented himself as an assistant director, and this was to be his primary job description for the next three decades, first in B movies (like some in the Joe Palooka and Bowery Boys series), and then on television shows like Lassie, OK Crackerby, Mod Squad, and The Rookies. He also AD’d on Roger Corman’s The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre (1967) and certain classic tv movies, such as The Over-the-Hill Gang (1969), A Taste of Evil (1971), and Hijack! (1973).

For about a decade Barry was able to work a bit as a director, beginning with several episodes of The Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok (1951-52), and culminating with the self-produced The Creation of the Humanoids (1962) and the children’s short The Jolly Genie (1963). Most of the films he directed were westerns, like The Secret of Outlaw Flats, with Guy Madison and Andy Devine, and Trail Blazers, with Alan Hale Jr, both in 1953.

From the late 40s, Barry also worked as a production manager, producer’s assistant, and associate producer prepared him to produce entire movies himself, which he did on numerous occasions, usually on the kind of low-budget westerns he himself occasionally directed.

Barry appears to have loved every facet of the movie business and to have been happy just to work within it. He definitely appears to have avoided the “former child star curse”. His last credit (as assistant director) was a 1975 episode of The Rookies.

For more on silent film please read Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube.