Tonight I watched a terrific old black and white film called "Scarlet Street." It starred Edward G. Robinson, Joan Bennett, and Dan Duryea. The film was directed by Fritz Lang. Jess Barker, who was married to Susan for many years, had a secondary role in the film. He played an art dealer. Jess was an extremely handsome man and he looked great on the screen. It's too bad that his career didn't pan out. It was interesting watching him. I have seen photos of him but I've never seen him in a film nor had I heard him speak. It would have been nice ,I think ,if Susan and Jess could have made some films together. They were both beautiful people and good actors. It's a mystery why things turn out the way they do. Jess made a few other films--some notable. I'd like to "check them out"..for example, Government Girl, and Cover Girl..I don't think he had big roles in these films but they seemed to be substantial parts.---If you haven't seen Scarlet Street, you might want to watch for it in your local listings or I think it's probably available on video.(It's one of those unbeatable film noir classics ....Ginger
I've never seen Jess Barker in anything,either, Ginger, but I'd like to.
You probably already know that he appeared on Broadway, too, I believe before he got to Hollywood. A while ago I read a biography of Lorenz Hart, and there was a photo in the book of the cast of one of his shows (it may have been "The Boys of Syracuse"; unfortunately, I'm not sure of that). The book said that Jess left the show because, supposedly, Hart was making homosexual advances to him!
I imagine Jess had a great voice, just from listening to Tim Barker's voice on the A&E biography of Susan. Of course, he got his voice from both parents, lucky him.
As for why he did not enjoy success in films, I've always wondered if he looked too much like Alan Ladd.
Incidentally, if "Boys from Syracuse" was not the correct show, and anyone knows the right one, please let me know.
In one of those strange coincidences that life offers, Hart and Richard Rodgers wrote "With a Song in My Heart."
I too join the list of the under-exposed to Jess Barker's film work. I can recall him in a movie with Barbara Stanywck, but I was virtually a youth when I saw it and cannot remember the title now.
Sorry Gloria, must also plead ignorance re his possible involvement in "Boys From Syracuse". I think I recall Eddie Albert and Burl Ives as singers in the original Broadway show ?? but even that I am unsure. !!
Gloria...I vaguely remember reading that Jess had worked in New York on Broadway, but I didn't know the Lorenz Hart story. Jess did look somewhat like Alan Ladd. Jess was striking on the screen--very good looking.
Kerry: I'm the one who should apologize. When I read your e-mail, I thought, heck, how could Jess Barker appear in a musical show? So I hustled over to the library to find the book I'd read it in, and of course it wasn't LORENZ Hart. It was MOSS HART!
To make matters worse, the show wasn't "Boys From Syracuse" (although I wasn't sure of that anyway).
It was "You Can't Take It With You."
Jess Barker played the part of Tony Kirby. While not the lead part, it was a sizable one. There was no specific date when it opened on Broadway, but it was somewhere in mid- or late-thirties.
Here's how the book, which is called "Dazzler, the Life and Times of Moss Hart" by Seven Bach, recalled Jess's feelings about Hart. "Jess thought his performance was adversely affected" by Hart, "because of Moss's habit of sitting in a box seat overlooking the stage night after night and staring at him with frank sexual interest."
Since Moss Hart was bi-sexual (he was married to Kitty Hart), it seems feasible that this did happen.
Ah, mystery solved. Thanks Gloria for going to the trouble of chasing that reference up. I agree with you that it is highly likely that Moss Hart would have been very attracted to a young Jess Barker.
These days it would be called harassment or stalking I guess. Some actors back then were able to view such 'interests' as irrelevant or indeed advantageous to their careers, even though they would never let it get physical, but clearly Jess felt very uncomfortable.
Recall our 'lavender marriages' discussion a while back ? We may need new descriptions for our bi-sexual couples. Like the Marge and Gower Champion marriage etc. What do you think ? Lilac weddings ? Violet unions ? Purple partners ? LOL
Kerry/Gloria...Moss Hart was married to Kitty Carlisle (actress, singer, game show panelist fame)...that really suprises me about Moss Hart...oh well, I don't really know that much about him except that he was a playwright and married to Kitty...apparently he had diverse interests.. LOL
Ginger: yes, that's the Kitty hart I was referring to. They were married, but a lot of folks thought it was another marriage of convenience. Or maybe he really was bi-sexual.
Gloria...I'm sorry.. for some reason I didn't scroll down further when I first read your note.. I had stopped at "You Can't Take It With You."....well, that's pretty interesting about Moss Hart and Kitty Carlisle. I watch the gameshow network a lot.. "black and white late at night"...and have gotten familiar with Kitty Carlisle on To Tell The Truth.