Shaken, Not Stirred: It was mink coats, and d’élégance

October 16, 2016
Jim Bond

Jim Bond

It was mink coats, and d’élégance

#ShakenNotStirred.

Shaken, Not Stirred. A blog by Jim Bond.

Sponsored by Pro-Master Carpet Cleaning, 231-757-9061, promastercarpetcleaning.com.

This week I’m veering from my stated path in life, RIC (Ranter-In-Chief), to relate a personal anecdote, prompted by the news of actress Patricia Barry’s death earlier this week.

A little background. In the early years of my career I was a radio talk show host. In Houston, St. Louis, Kansas City, and Louisville. This was before radio talk shows became so contentious. These programs ranged from light-hearted call-in programs to in-depth conversations with artists, authors, leaders of government and industry and other celebrities.

At the beginning of the 1980s I took what might be considered an about-face, leaving a small (but significant) station in St. Louis to move west a couple of hours to Columbia, Missouri. The station, KFRU, continued to be a venerable mid-Missouri staple, as it had been for a couple of generations, dominating all other stations in the area. My broadcast career became the proverbial big fish in a small pond.

Columbia afforded me access to the type of “guest pool” I needed and wanted. The area boasted the University of Missouri, Columbia College, Stephens College, and just a few miles away, in Fulton, Missouri, there was William Woods College and Westminster College. Westminster College was where Winston Churchill made his famous “Iron Curtain” speech in 1946, with President Harry Truman on the stage with him.

Nestled in the vast farmland of Mid-Missouri were towers of progressive intellectual thought, an immense collection of the people I wanted to interview: poets, authors, professional musicians and actors, educators.

Stephens College was one of my first contacts. This prestigious liberal arts college comprising mostly women students had a thriving arts program, including the Playhouse Theatre. Legendary actor George C. Scott was a vital part of its mentoring program and was instrumental in developing the master-apprentice element of their teaching, in which professional guest artists performed alongside their protégés.

Patricia Barry was part of that program.

Barry (nee White) was a graduate of Stephens in the mid 1940s and received a contract from Columbia Pictures. Throughout subsequent years, Patricia and her husband, Philip Barry Jr. collaborated on numerous television projects and movies. When I met and interviewed her she had hundreds of roles to her credit. She had found her niche in daytime television, having appeared on “Days of Our Lives,” “Guiding Light,” and “All My Children.”

During one of her guest artist visits we talked on-air a couple of times throughout the weeks she was there.

It was quite a sight; this glamorous, elegant actress with her striking auburn hair walking into the studio of a utilitarian radio station, devoid of the star-quality she represented. She wore a full-length mink coat, an exact match in color to the mink which wrapped the Shih Tzu she cradled in her arms. It was not an affectation. For her, it was as natural as slipping on a favorite pair of comfortable shoes.

So we drifted into conversation, this gracious, lovely woman and me, her in the chair at the table adjacent to me in the open control room, her puppy settling in to relax on the table. Ms. Barry and I chatted, enjoying hot coffee and warm conversation.

Since this was a call-in show, I would monitor the control board as I was alerted by the engineer of another incoming call. It was after one such participant had hung up that I noticed a faint rhythmic, oscillating sound. I checked the volume on the phone line, thinking a fresh call might be coming in and I was picking up a subdued ring tone.

Frustrated and losing focus I went to commercial break, cut the volume of the studio microphones and noticed that the sound had disappeared. I glanced over and discovered that the puppy had fallen asleep on the table, and gentle snoring was vibrating through the base of the ‘mic’ stand on the table.

It’s a story, one of many I’ve accumulated through the years of interviewing celebrities, which I’ve related to my older children.

This was a memory I relished earlier this week as I heard of her death, at age 93. Even though I haven’t followed her in years, I shall miss her and the fineness and grace she exhibited.

 

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