Barry Coe

Barry Coe

Barry Coe (Wikipedia)

Barry Coe was an American actor who appeared in film and on television from 1956-1978. Many of his motion pictures parts were minor, but he co-starred in one seriesFollow the Sun, which aired on ABC during the 1961-1962 season, and also played the recognizable “Mr. Goodwrench” on TV commercials in the 1970s and 1980s.

Born Barry Clark Heacock, his name was changed to Joseph Spalding Coe when his mother Jean Elizabeth Shea married Joseph Spalding Coe Sr. in 1940 in Los Angeles. His father Francis Elmer “Frank” Heacock, a writer and publicist for Warner Brothers, was killed in an auto accident in North Hollywood, CA, April 5, 1940.

Coe attended the University of Southern California and was discovered by a talent scout during a trip with his fraternity to Palm Springs in the mid-1950s. He was signed under contract for 20th Century Fox as an actor.

Coe’s early roles included appearances in House of Bamboo (1955), How to Be Very, Very Popular (1955), On the Threshold of Space (1956), and D-Day the Sixth of June(1956). He guest starred in an episode of Cheyenne, “The Last Train West” and had a small role in Elvis Presley‘s Love Me Tender (1956). He was in adaptations of The Late George Apley and ‘Deep Water’ for The 20th Century Fox Hour.

Coe’s first really notable role was playing the lustful Rodney Harrington in the original Peyton Place (1957) film, based on the bestselling Grace Metalious 1956 novel of the same name.

He followed it with a support part in an independent Western, Thundering Jets (1958), then went back to Fox for The Bravados (1958) with Gregory Peck, and A Private’s Affair (1959), a service musical. He played Carroll Baker‘s more age appropriate boyfriend in But Not for Me at Paramount.

Coe had good support roles in One Foot in Hell (1960) with Alan Ladd and The Wizard of Baghdad (1961). In 1960, Coe secured a Golden Globe award for the Most Promising Newcomer – Male, along with James ShigetaTroy Donahue, and George Hamilton.

In 1961 Coe and Brett Halsey played magazine writers Paul Templin and Ben Gregory, respectively, with Gary Lockwood as their researcher, Eric Jason on the ABC television network series Follow the Sun from September 17, 1961, through April 8, 1962. The program was set in HonoluluHawaii, and the writers often ventured into private detective work. Despite some memorable episodes, Follow the Sun was cancelled after twenty-nine segments.

After Follow the Sun folded, Coe appeared in a support role in Fox’s The 300 Spartans (1962)[6] then guest starred in 1962 on the first episode of the fourth season of NBC‘s Western series Bonanza. He portrayed ranch hand Clay Stafford, who reveals himself to be the “fifth” Cartwright, a half brother to Little Joe (Michael Landon) via their mother Marie. Although stepfather Ben Cartwright (Lorne Greene) and Joe take Clay at his word, the other Cartwright brothers, Hoss (Dan Blocker) and Adam (Pernell Roberts) are skeptical and intend to investigate Clay’s claim. The episode called “The First Born” could have introduced Coe as a new cast member. Entertainment writer Hal Ericson reported that friction (i.e. job security) on the set caused Bonanza producers to stick with the three brothers.

Cole was given the lead in a low budget independent film, A Letter to Nancy (1965). He guest starred on Voyage to the Bottom of the Seaand appeared as an unnamed communications aide in Fantastic Voyage (1966) and as Walt Kilby in The Cat (1966).

Coe had a semiregular role on Bracken’s World and could be seen in The Seven Minutes (1971) and One Minute Before Death (1973).

He starred as Fred Saunders in Doctor Death: Seeker of Souls in 1973 and as an unnamed reporter in Gregory Peck‘s MacArthur in 1977. His last film role was as diving instructor Tom Andrews in Jaws 2 in 1978. He had a brief stint as Joel Stratton in the ABC soap operaGeneral Hospital in 1974. There were other television appearances too, including CBS‘s Mission: Impossible starring Peter Graves, and The Moneychangers, .[4]

From the late 1970s into the early 1980s, Coe was “Mr. Goodwrench” in television advertising for a chain of national auto parts stores under General Motors.[4]

Until his death, Coe was married to the former Jorunn Kristiansen, who was a Norwegian beauty queen in the 1950s and now a painter (born 1940). Their son is William Shea Coe (born 1966). In the 1980s, Barry Coe’s daughter attended the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Barry Coe had a side business in nutritional supplements—Adventures in Nutrition; labels for the containers were printed by Joe Faust. He lived in  Brentwood, Los Angeles, California for several years.

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