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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Harry Bartell (1913-2004)



Harry Bartell was born November 28, 1913, in New Orleans, Louisiana. He grew up in Houston, Texas. After finishing high school, he attended Rice University and graduated in 1933. Harry's first perfomances on radio were short audio versions of popular movies that were in the theaters at that time. He would get two 25 cent theater tickets for each performance. This was at radio station KRPC in Houston. He then moved on to the Harvard Business School, then moved out to Los Angeles to work in retail work. After this, he tried his hand at acting on radio... He worked at radio station KFWB, which was located in the Warner Brothers Studios in Hollywood (now the site of KTLA, channel 5). He was a disc jockey for the station and was also studying at the Pasadena Playhouse.


He married his wife Beverly in the late 1930s and they had a daughter named Judie.




Soon after he married, he began working in radio drama. His first role had him speaking with a Hindi accent on a show called Raffles. Eventually, he did almost every program that originated out of Hollywood. No list would be fair to show everything he did, although the best shows he did were: The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (where he was the announcer and commercial pitchman for Petri wines--with his pleasant inflection and the way the commercials were written, he could make Petri Apple Cider Vinegar sound like the best companion for your Sunday chicken dinner!), Dragnet (he'd be a drunk, he'd be another cop, he'd be a Mexican priest, he could be anybody!), Fort Laramie (he had a regular part here as a cavalry officer), Gunsmoke (he was everyone again), and many other shows.

There were programs on which he could be rarely heard. He wasn't on The Whistler. He said he just wasn't the type of actor they wanted.

He worked in many films, usually uncredited, beginning with Destination Tokyo (1943). After appearing in that film, he was drafted into the Navy.

Harry was the fifth person who portrayed Archie Goodwin on The New Adventures of Nero Wolfe.

After radio, and movies, and TV shows, Harry retired and moved to Oregon in 1975.

He died of natural causes at his home in Ashland, Oregon, on February 26, 2004. He was 90 years old. Harry is buried in the Riverside National Cemetery in Riverside, California.

3 comments:

Dan said...

Harry Bartell played this really mean crook on a radio broadcast of Dragnet. I have listened to it several times because he is so insulting to this woman whom he scammed. He is so convincing in his meanness that it makes me laugh. Great voice for sure.

Marcus said...

One of my favorite Harry Bartell characters was that of "August" in the Escape episode "Three Skeleton Key". It was later dramatized by Vincent Price as the main character but the original cast of Elliott Reed, Bill Conrad and of Course Harry. If you haven't heard this version fo the broadcast I suggest it. I believe it was much better than the Vincent Price version.

marcus@stardustotr.com

Lenny Pike said...

Bartell is one of my favorites... he was so flexible... able to provide such a wide range of characters... half the time you don't even know it's him. In the time in the Yours Truly Johnny Dollar shows he would play a Mexican... with incredible broken English... which is really difficult to do. Bartell and John Dehner, I think were the best when it came to a variety of charachters.

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