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Leslie Barrett Biography

  • Profession: Actor
  • Born: Jan 1, 0001
  • Died: May 19, 2001

Leslie Barrett, born Leslie Klein in New York City in 1919, began his acting career completely by accident. As a teenager in high school one day in 1936, he'd heard the Theatre Guild was looking for young performers and his older brother -- who was the would-be actor in the family -- suggested that he stop by the Guild office. He did just that and, totally unexpectedly, found himself cast in a play called But For the Grace of God. That play didn't run long, but then he was put into An Enemy Of The People. He next was chosen to replace Billy Halop in the key role of Tommy in Sidney Kingsley's Dead End, when Halop and the other original leads were sent to Hollywood to make the movie version. That play was a success, and at the end of its run, Klein -- who changed his last name to Barrett during the run -- had a career. He kept working steadily on the stage for the next 60 years, interrupted only by military service during World War II. As a New York-based actor, he never made any feature-film appearances, but his television career actually began in the 1930s when he worked on some experimental broadcasts in the new medium. After the war, he appeared in numerous soap operas and dramatic anthology shows -- ironically, his most widely seen work across the decades is in the "Bensonhurst Bomber" episode of The Honeymooners, one of the "classic 39" filmed shows, in which he played George, the squeaky-voiced pool player who gets Jackie Gleason's Ralph Kramden involved in a fight with his much bigger friend Harvey (played by George Mathews); it's ironic because Barrett had to add such a squeaky whine to his voice for the part, that, as he recalled for audiences in the 1980s, he got no work for a couple of years afterward because producers and casting directors thought that was how he talked. In more recent years, Barrett has appeared as a judge in two episodes of the New York-filmed series Law & Order. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi

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