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Besides "Urban Cowboy" in 1980, Barry was also on the big screen with supporting roles in "Any Which Way You Can", a Clint Eastwood comedy, and "Stir Crazy" with Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor.

From the silver screen Barry moved into regular work on the small screen as well.

On the hit TV series "Dallas", he played a recurring character between 1979 and 1984, "Sheriff Fenton Washburn." The producers needed to find someone that was tough enough
to stand up to J.R. Ewing and the rest.

"...And what they were looking for, was a very lean, hard, tough sheriff. Well, I came in and I guess I changed their minds (chuckles), because the leanness was not there! The hard and tough, yeah, sure. I'm hard and tough."

Barry established himself as one of the busiest character actors in Hollywood. Having roles in movies such as "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" (1982) with Burt Reynolds and Dolly Parton, "Honkytonk Man" (1982) with Clint Eastwood, and "The Man Who Loved Women" (1983) with Burt Reynolds and Kim Bassinger.

Barry reflects on life like in those days:
"Back in the early part of the last century life was simpler. We had no such thing as computers and you had to write a letter, put a stamp on it and mail it. Now, you just pluck it out of the ether and it confuses me terminally. If I had to run this computer I'd throw it out the window! How'd you like my black and white two toned shoes in "Honkytonk Man"? I picked those out myself!"

In 1983, Barry did a TV series called "Boone", which lasted 13 weeks opposite ABC's Monday Night Football:
"It was a big hit in the Middle East! I think in Ireland they liked it too".

Also in the series was a young Dallas actress named Janine Turner, now best known as "Northern Exposure's" Maggie O'Connell.


"WarGames" premiered nationwide on Friday, June 3, 1983. Starring Matthew Broderick and Ally Sheedy, "WarGames" is a thriller about a computer hacker (Matthew Broderick) who unwittingly taps into the Defense Department's war computer and initiates a confrontation of global proportions. The film  was critically acclaimed and even considered as a masterpiece by film critics such as Roger Ebert.

Director John Badham used some of his personal background in terms of casting Barry Corbin for the role of General Beringer:
"Well, my father was a Brigadier General in the Air Force. And so in working with it, that's what I had to go on. My dad with kind of a grim manner to him but also a great sense of humor, and Barry Corbin just reminded me of my dad in so many ways."

Barry Corbin did an unforgettable performance as General Beringer and left an indelible mark in film history by adlibbing one of the funniest and original quotes ever:

"God damn it! I'd piss on a sparkplug if I thought it'd do any good! Let the boy in there, Major."

On the DVD version, Director John Badham and writer Lawrence Lasker
 reveal the story behind Barry's famous quote:

(Badham) "That was Barry Corbin's own invented line, adlibbed for the purpose of this movie -God bless him- I said, we need something Barry. You're in charge in this room and somebody has to let the kid into the computer, and he said, 'Well, I'll think of something,' and we didn't hear it until the take what he was gonna say and then we had to recess for 15 minutes while everybody stopped laughing.
(Lasker) "You mean the first time you ever heard the line was when he came out with it on the set?"
(Badham) "During the take. He just said, 'I'll come up with something.' And then he obviously pulled out of his Texas background this wonderful "good ol' boy" expression".

However, Barry doesn't think that quote is as funny as people do:
"I’m glad people liked the sparkplug line - I threw that in there because I really had my cousin do that when we were kids. He didn’t think it was quite as funny as people did, but now it is forever on film."


In 1986, Barry played a Lyndon Johnson adviser, Judge Wirtz, in the "LBJ: The Early Years" a miniseries with Randy Quaid. Barry enjoyed that role because his father, Kilmer Corbin, knew the man he portrayed. He also appeared in other miniseries such as "Murder in Texas" (1981), "The Thorn Birds" (1983), "Fatal Vision" (1984), "A Death in California" (1985), and "I Know My First Name Is Steven (1989).

Barry guest-starred in several TV-Series, most of them in Prime Time such as "M*A*S*H" (1981), "Hart To Hart" (1981), "Hill Street Blues" (1984), "The Duck Factory" (1984) with Jim Carrey, "The A-Team" (1986), "The Twilight Zone" (1986), "Matlock" (1987), "Murder, She Wrote" (1987), and "Designing Women" (1989).

And Barry went on to star in Showtime's "Washingtoon" series.
"My mother and about 35 other people watched "Washingtoon" on Showtime! I believe if it had come along a year later during Dan Quayle's term as V.P., it would have had a much better chance. The problem with political satire on TV is that it's too outlandish to be believable or it's surpassed in the morning headlines! Can you imagine satirizing the political shenanigans of 1998? I think the satire is the reality!"

But Barry never stopped doing movies. By the end of the 80's he had worked with Tom Hanks and Jackie Gleason in "Nothing In Common" (1986), with Keanu Reeves in "Permanent Record" (1988), with Tommy Lee Jones in "Stranger on My Land" (1988) with John Candy in "Who's Harry Crumb?" (1989), and with Tom Skerritt and Max Von Sydow in "Red King, White Knight" (1989) among many others.

Then there was "Lonesome Dove" in 1989...


Mention the sweeping miniseries made from Larry McMurtry's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel and Barry invariably smiles:
"That was fun. It was a whole lot of fun, really. I loved doing that."

"Lonesome Dove" is a western hailed as a masterpiece by critics and audiences alike. Barry played the role of Roscoe Brown, July Johnson's loyal but bumbling deputy.

"LD was one of the high points of my professional career. When I first read the book, I called my agents and told them I had to be in it when, not if, they made the miniseries. I told them I'd play anything just to be a part of the show. Fortunately for me, Simon Wincer, Bill Witliffe, and Suzanne De Passe thought I was right for Roscoe."

"I had about as much fun making LD as I've ever had doing anything and, judging from the letters and comments I've had over the past few years, the public agreed. The funny thing is, I only worked on LD for about three weeks, but that's usually the first or second project people ask me about. It just goes to show you, you can't keep a good Western down. The audience loves good old fashioned shoot-'em-ups as we called them when I was a kid."

If during the 80's Barry was noted for his work on many hit mini-series, the 90's showed Barry in almost every prime-time TV show.


Good character actors such as Barry are most in demand by producers shooting pilots for prospective series. Nothing impresses the network brass more than a well-spoken line of dialogue.

At the time he was called by the producers of "Northern Exposure," Barry had completed work on three pilots. For a time, he said he was making a living from pilots, and that was fine with him.
He didn't care about a series.

"I love doing pilots, but frankly, I'm not that crazy about signing up for series work. What usually happens is that the series ends up repeating what you did in the pilot. That's not only boring but it's artistic suicide. You do the same character over and over again and the perception becomes that's all you can do. Before long, the perception becomes truth. That's all you can do. To prevent that, you'd better be very careful about what seven-year contracts you sign."

The seven-year contract accompanying the offer on "Northern Exposure" was different, Barry said, because the writing was so superior to most pilots.
Besides, what character actor could resist playing
Maurice Minnifield?
"Maurice is a fascinating character, and the writing managed to stay at a high level most of the time. I was not unhappy I signed that seven-year contract. Anyway, it was nice to have a regular job for a change. That's the upside. The downside is that there was no time to do anything else. I wished I had some time to do other work, but for the most part, I was having a good time."

Barry was called in to read for "Northern Exposure" in 1990. He auditioned for executive producers Joshua Brand and John Falsey, doing pushups as he talked. Such bravado fit Maurice Minnifield's character perfectly. The show premiered July 12, 1990, and delighted critics as well as a small but loyal audience during its eight-week summer run.

Those eight episodes were all Barry expected to do, but then CBS decided to shoot seven more. The new episodes, plus repeats of the original shows, were aired in spring and summer 1991.

"Northern Exposure", with its blend of urbane humor and deadpan whimsy, suddenly became the hip show to watch. CBS ordered 13 new episodes in the late spring of '91.

In the '91-92 fall season the show regularly placed in the Top 20, and the network ordered nine more episodes. The show aired for 6 seasons from 1990 to 1995 and won several American Television Awards (Emmys) and The Golden Globe Award. It continues to attract more loyal followers as it continues on in syndication around the world and seen at least twice a day in North America.

On Thursday, 15 April 1993, Barry was nominated for an Emmy in the category of Best Supporting Actor for his interpretation of proud former astronaut, Maurice Minnifield, in the series "Northern Exposure".

In an interview for television, Barry told how he arrived at the award ceremony:
"Well, I rode in on a horse. My daughter and I rode in on a horse. A couple of weeks ago, Universal said that they couldn't pick up any expenses for the nominees. I guess they ain't been making enough money on the calendars, and t-shirts and what not, so, we decided we'd come in on the cheapest transport possible."

He also commented about his feelings on being amongst the nominees:
"It feels great - I'll tell you. The greatest honor is being in the company of the other four guys, you know. Anything else is gravy, so it's wonderful."

As the highly visible star of a popular, critically acclaimed TV series, fame of the most public sort came to Barry. He explains how "Northern Exposure" changed his life:
"It's marginally changed things, more people know me by name now. There are people who talk to me and say 'Good show, Maurice' or something. Or some of them even know my real name, you know. But, I've been very fortunate in my career. I've done a lot of work and people might not know my name, they might not even know where they know me from, but they know they know me."

Barry says the magic "Northern Exposure" created for its audience was there for its actors as well, though, he admits, "I think we forgot it from time to time. It's like being in a beautiful rain forest; you forget from time to time how beautiful it is."

It's easy to believe that Barry Corbin, who played Maurice Minnifield so convincingly, was simply playing himself. But he wasn't. Dryly humorous, disarmingly chatty, Barry's low- keyed self-assurance carries none of Maurice's macho bluster.
"We look alike and talk alike, that's it.
He's a whole lot smarter than I am, but I've got a better sense of humor."
"Maurice is very serious. He doesn't take anything lightly. I don't take anything heavy. Politically, he's a little bit just slightly to the north of Attila the Hun. I'm sort of an anarchist."

Barry Corbin sees Maurice as:
"… the quintessential middle-aged, late-20th-century man. He grew up with a lot of myths... and now he has absolutely no idea where he fits in, not only in the world but in the cosmos. Somebody said he was a bigot. And I said no... because the source of a bigot's prejudices is fear. But Maurice is not afraid of anything. The only thing he's afraid of is himself. He's really very much a stereotypical hero, because he is not afraid. He'd walk into the lions' den; he'd walk into the fiery furnace. He'd do anything."

"Anybody who'd gone into space has got to have some swagger to him. Sometimes the whole town goes up in arms against him. There was one episode where we had a church meeting and everybody were screaming, and I'm screaming back at them. And nobody paid any attention to me then. Nobody paid any attention to me.... Just like in real life!"


Because of his full time working schedule on "Northern Exposure", Barry barely had time to work on other projects, however, he managed to make two made-for-TV westerns in between, "Siringo", and a successful TNT's production called "Conagher".

Based on the Louis L'Amour's novel, "Conagher" is another highlight in Barry's prolific career. On March 21st, 1992, he was honored with the "Western Heritage Wrangler" award for his role of "Charlie McCloud".

Barry's acceptance speech at the Cowboy Hall of Fame:
"Well, I'd like to thank Sam, and John Kuri for giving me a job. I'd like to thank Jeffrey Meyer for writing such good words. And Rey for the wonderful direction. I'd like to thank R.L. Tolbert for trying to teach me how to drive a six-up in a day and a half, ... we didn't have any wrecks ... we were fortunate. And I'd like to thank The National Cowboy Hall Of Fame for this beautiful award. Thank you!"

The cancellation of "Northern Exposure" in 1995 didn't stop Barry from working. On the contrary, he was busier than ever, or as he puts it...
"I've been as busy as a cat on a griddle."

In June that year, he finished a made-for-television film called, "Kiss and Tell," which co-starred Cheryl Ladd. "I played a sleazy security expert," Barry said. He worked on another made-for-TV film with Loni Anderson and Greg Evigan called "Deadly Family Secrets." And in July he was in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico working on "Solo", a Sci-Fi adventure feature film with Mario Van Peebles as a robot that develops a conscience after being conceived as the ultimate weapon.

However, his most colorful role was that in the Quentin Tarantino - produced
black comedy movie titled
"I played the owner of a post-forensic cleanup operation. My character had to take the job after he hurt his back and couldn't lift corpses anymore."

But in April 1996, Barry was back in another starring role on the USA Network's TV series "The Big Easy" portraying "C.D. LeBlanc", the New Orleans police department sheriff - and Remy McSwain's uncle - infatuated with the Civil War and prone to spend workdays at battle reenactments.

The sexy one-hour dramatic series based on the 1987 hit movie was filmed entirely on location in the exotic and colorful city of New Orleans and Barry was very happy because it was very close to his new home in Texas.
"It was great because I'd work for two weeks there and then I was back home for a week".

The show lasted 2 seasons, 34 episodes, from August 1996 to October 1997.
"There was no final episode because they didn't tell us we were cancelled until we finished shooting."


From 1998 to the present time, Barry's commanding presence has been required by almost every producer of Prime-Time TV show, like "The Magnificent Seven", "Spin City", "JAG", "The Outer Limits", "The Drew Carey Show", "King Of The Hill", "Walker: Texas Ranger""Mysterious Ways", "Going To California", and "Reba".

But also, by the end of the century Barry did a few more made-for-TV films like "Judgment Day: The Ellie Nesler Story", "A Face To Kill For", "Sealed With A Kiss", and "Crossfire Trail" with Tom Selleck and Virginia Madsen, a TNT's western in which he played a heavy-drinking judge.

Some of Barry's latest films are "Fumbleheads", with Edward Asner, "Held Up" with Jamie Foxx, "The Journeyman", an independent western with singer/actor Willie Nelson, "Clover Bend", a TV-Movie with Robert Urich, and "No One Can Hear You", a thriller with Kelly McGillis.




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