Although Barry has numerous credits performing in stage productions and in films, the majority of her work was in television between 1950 and 2005, when she appeared in over 100 series either in supporting roles or as a guest star.
The daughter of a physician, Barry was born Patricia Allen White in Davenport, Iowa. She attended Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri, where she received her academic and practical training in acting in the school's drama department, which was administered by the distinguished Broadway actress and teacher Maude Adams. After Barry's graduation from college, she gained some professional experience on stage in 1944 before winning a Rita Hayworth look-alike contest. The resulting publicity from that contest led to Barry being signed to a Hollywood movie contract with Warner Brothers.
Barry's theatrical debut came in summer theater at Peterborough, New Hampshire. Later appearing on Broadway, her credits there include The Pink Elephant (1953) and Goodbye Again (1956). She also starred in productions in Los Angeles, California, and Flagstaff, Arizona.
Barry's performances in Hollywood productions began in 1946 with her involvement in five Warner Brothers films released that year. However, she received a screen credit–as Patricia White–in only one of those five, in The Beast with Five Fingers. She played "Clara" in that horror film, which starred Robert Alda, Andrea King, and Peter Lorre.
From 1947 to 1950, Barry gained additional acting experience in sixteen other movies with Paramount Pictures, Columbia, RKO, and Gene Autry Productions. As before, when credited for her performances in those films, she continued to be recognized by her maiden name, although, following her marriage to producer Philip Barry Jr. in 1950, she began to use her married name professionally. She returned to film work occasionally, including Safe at Home, Send Me No Flowers, and Dear Heart.
Following those performances, she appeared in a few other theatrical releases in the coming decades, but the vast majority of her work continued to be on television. Some of her other films during that latter stage of her career include The Marriage of a Young Stockbroker (1971), The End of August, (1982), Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983), For Keeps (1989), City Rhythms (1989), and Sea of Love (1989). In 2014, just two years before her death and 25 years after her role in Sea of Love, Barry would appear in her final film, Delusional.
For over 50 years, Barry was a very popular supporting character and guest star on "the small screen," appearing in literally scores of television series and made-for-television movies. Her first role on television was in 1950, in The Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse presentation "The Life of Vincent Van Gogh," with Everett Sloane playing the troubled artist. For the remainder of the 1950s and throughout the 1960s, she performed in nearly every genre of television programming, including contemporary televised plays, Westerns, situation comedies, doctor and detective series, courtroom dramas, and suspense, adventure, and science-fiction series.
Often she was cast as high-class, avaricious femme fatales, although she also demonstrated in many series her abilities to perform a wide range of other characters. The following is only a small selection of the television series in which Barry appeared: The Alcoa Hour, Playhouse 90, The Third Man, Yancy Derringer, Sugarfoot, Maverick, The Rifleman, The Millionaire, 77 Sunset Strip, Rawhide, Gunsmoke, The Donna Reed Show, My Three Sons, Bachelor Father, Markham, Laramie, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Going My Way, Thriller, Route 66, Perry Mason, The Twilight Zone, Harris Against the World, The Felony Squad, Judd for the Defense, CBS Playhouse, Ironside, The High Chaparral, and Mannix.
As Barry's career extended into the 1970s and beyond the 1990s, she continued her frequent guest roles on an array of more top-rated weekly television series, such as Columbo; Police Woman; Charlie's Angels; Three's Company; Quincy, M.E.; Knots Landing; Dallas; and Murder, She Wrote. Barry in this period also performed in a dozen made-for-television movies and became a recurring character on several major daily daytime dramas or "soap operas," playing "Addie Horton Williams" on Days of Our Lives (1972-1973), "Sally Gleason" on Guiding Light (1985-1987), "Isabelle Alden" on Loving (1992-1993), and "Peg English" on All My Children (1981-2005). Her performance on the February 28, 2005, episode of All My Children was Barry's last acting appearance broadcast on television.
During her prolific television career, Barry received three Emmy Award nominations for her performances: in 1957 for her role as a dying socialite in "Dark Victory" on NBC's Matinee Theater; in 1958 as "Miss Calhoun" in Startime's episode "The Wicked Scheme of Jebal Deeks"; and in 1959 as "Lucille" in Playhouse 90's presentation "Reunion."
Outside of her acting career, Barry supported and served in a variety of educational foundations, charities, professional organizations, and women's advocacy groups. She was a charter member and past president of Women in Film (WIF), a Los Angeles-based organization established in 1973 to promote equal opportunities for women in the film industry and later to supporting the work of women not only in films but also "in all other forms of global media." With regard to expanding support for female directors, producers, actors, technicians, and writers, Barry helped to promote the establishment of other WIF chapters throughout the United States and then, in the 1990s, in other countries through the creation of Women in Film and Television International. In addition to her work on behalf of WIF, Barry was the founding president of the American Film Institute Associates and served on boards and committees for Stephens College, the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, the Screen Actors Guild, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, and the John Tracy Clinic, a diagnostic and educational center that provides assistance to children coping with hearing loss.
Patricia was married for 48 years to Philip Barry, Jr., until his death in 1998. The couple had two daughters, Miranda and Stephanie. On October 11, 2016, Patricia Barry died of natural causes at her home in Los Angeles, California, at the age of 93.The Beast with Five Fingers (1946)Cry Wolf (1947)The Man I Love (1947)The Wreck of the Hesperus (1948)Riders of the Whistling Pines (1949)The Undercover Man (1949)The Tattooed Stranger (1950)Dear Heart (1964)Kitten with a Whip (1964)Send Me No Flowers (1964)The Marriage of a Young Stockbroker (1971)Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983)Sea of Love (1989)