Pleasingly pretty Barbara Lyon was the Hollywood-born daughter of popular film couple,Ben Lyon and Bebe Daniels but, to millions of British radio listeners, she would forever symbolize the perennial, over-emotive teen — the “Judy Jetson” of the post-World War II set, as it were. Born on September 9, 1931, Barbara was 19 when “Life with the Lyons” first took to the radio waves on November 5, 1950, and was still playing the part, broaching age 30, when the TV version finally left the air. Cast along with real-life younger brother, Richard Lyons, as Ben and Bebe’s children, the opening lines remained the same throughout the show’s run: “I’m Richard Lyon! I’m Barbara Lyon! I’m Ben Lyon! And I’m Bebe Daniels Lyon! As the eternal teenager who suffered the slings and arrows of school-life misfortune, swooning Barbara’s famous catchphrase on the show became part of a teen lexicon of the 1950s: “I’ll die — I’ll just die!”
Barbara initially arrived in Europe, with her parents, when they made their British film debuts in 1933. Prompted by the popular radio success of the Nelson family in America, “Life with the Lyons” went on to become the very first situation comedy in Britain and the new concept was a sure-fire hit. Brother Richard had already become a seasoned young actor in a number of Hollywood films by the time he appeared on the show. The Lyon family was soon accepted and firmly established as part of the British entertainment scene. The success of the series spawned both a stage play and two feature films: Family Affair (1954) and The Lyons Abroad (1955). The radio series moved to BBC Television and Life with the Lyons (1955), then crossed over to the new Independent Television in 1957, the first series ever to do so. The series ended in 1960.
In her mid-20s, Barbara decided to venture outside her established mold and pursue work as a singer. She earned a Columbia Record Company contract in 1955, as well as a “Top Twenty” hit song with “Stowaway”. A second hit came with “Letter from a Soldier”, which made it to #27. Other popular numbers Barbara recorded for Columbia included such “boy songs” as “I’m Just Wild About Harry”, “Puppy Love” and “Johnny is the Boy for Me”. Her singing career, however, was brief and never matched her success on TV.
The dark-haired and glamorous Barbara was given her own short-lived TV series, “Dream Time With Barbara” (1955), in which she also sang and, the following year, she married the show’s producer, Russell Turner. The marriage did not last. In 1968, she married an accountant, Colin Burkitt, a union that produced one son. That, too, ended in divorce. Barbara faded from the scene following her 1962 TV guest appearances on McHale’s Navy (1962) and My Three Sons (1960). Her later years, unfortunately, were not happy ones. Forgotten and dogged by physical and financial ills, she died of a brain hemorrhage in West Middlesex, England, on July 10, 1995, at just 63.
The above IMDB entry can also be accessed online here.