Gympie-born actor a versatile star of stage and screen
Stage, television, film actor, singer, radio host, entertainer.
BORN: October 24, 1934, Gympie.
DIED: April 20, 2017, Sydney.
BRUCE Barry was a versatile entertainer whose career started as a schoolboy performing in eisteddfods in Charters Towers where his parents were teachers.
He finished his studies at Gympie State High School and, despite having no ambition to be an actor, became an accomplished singer and actor, whose work spanned many roles from television, film, radio and musical theatre to productions on the London stage.
In his 20s he began singing in the nightspots of Brisbane and the Gold Coast while also working on radio station 4BH, having previously worked on radio in Gympie (4GY) and Murwillumbah.
He developed his stage skills by performing Shakespeare with the Young Elizabethans in Sydney for three years, embarking on regional tours of Australia.
He performed for several theatre companies in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide, combining acting with nightclub and cabaret engagements, before achieving stage musical success with national touring shows.
Bruce played the male lead in Funny Girl with Jill Perryman and in A Little Night Music with American/Finnish actress Taina Elg. He also appeared in Annie Get Your Gun, Lola Montez, 1776, Irma la Douce, Hello Dolly, Promises Promises and, in later years, the Sugar Babies national tour and Sydney music hall productions.
In a non-musical major theatre production, he and English-born Briony Behets joined British actors Barrie Ingham and Susannah York in Noel Coward's Private Lives.
Over two decades from the 1960s, Bruce ventured into television and film and appeared in most of the TV drama series of the day.
He had continuing roles in Bellbird, The Spoiler, The Mavis Bramston Show, Skyways and The Flying Doctors.
In 1980, Bruce moved to London for three years. His highlights included a lead role in the musical on the life of actress Lillian Gish, The Biograph Girl at the Phoenix Theatre, Dick Deadeye in HMS Pinafore, a role in Marilyn Monroe and the role of Jud in a West End long-running revival of Oklahoma in which another Australian, John Diedrich, played Curly.
Bruce also made guest singing appearances on many of the variety shows popular at the time.
He was the singing host in 1969 of the long running ABC show "The Magic of Music” with Eric Jupp.
In 1971, Bruce released an album, Nice and Easy, backed by Sven Libaek, who composed the music for the movie Picnic at Hanging Rock.
His films include Patrick, Libido, Ned Kelly, Abba the Movie and the Umbrella Woman. Bruce was a proud Queenslander, returning regularly to visit family and friends.
He was particularly honoured to compere and sing at the opening of the Queensland Performing Arts Complex and the Charters Towers Arts Centre.
He returned to his home town to be master of ceremonies at Gympie State High School's 80th anniversary concert in 1992.
Bruce is survived by children Simone and Byron