Don Barclay

Open, general discussion of classic sound-era films, personalities and history.
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Holmes
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Don Barclay

Unread post by Holmes » Fri Apr 19, 2013 6:47 pm

So, I've recently seen a few shorts that Don Barclay have appeared in. I know he's had quite the sporadic career, but I'd love to learn more about him. According to IMDB, he started in motion pictures in 1915 in a Mack Swain short and it spread all the way to the '60's to his last film appearance in Mary Poppins. He was an accomplished cartoonist and painter as well, but I'm interested more in his time in film. From what I've seen in his time with Roach, his dialog and delivery was very unique and precise. I was curious if his "character" from his time at Roach carried on to the rest of his film career? I haven't seen much of his work after the mid '30's. I noticed that he was uncredited in a lot of films that he appeared in later on. His speech especially caught me as something different, but his signature zig-zag hair line also instantly grabbed me. I've seen him in some Todd/Kelly shorts as well as Keg 'O My Heart, Mixed Nuts, and the Our Gang short Honky Donkey. Any info or photos are much appreciated. I felt a strange connection with him the first time I saw him on screen. A unique and interesting individual I'd love to learn more about.

Thank you for your help!
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Re: Don Barclay

Unread post by Richard M Roberts » Fri Apr 19, 2013 7:50 pm

Holmes wrote:So, I've recently seen a few shorts that Don Barclay have appeared in. I know he's had quite the sporadic career, but I'd love to learn more about him. According to IMDB, he started in motion pictures in 1915 in a Mack Swain short and it spread all the way to the '60's to his last film appearance in Mary Poppins. He was an accomplished cartoonist and painter as well, but I'm interested more in his time in film. From what I've seen in his time with Roach, his dialog and delivery was very unique and precise. I was curious if his "character" from his time at Roach carried on to the rest of his film career? I haven't seen much of his work after the mid '30's. I noticed that he was uncredited in a lot of films that he appeared in later on. His speech especially caught me as something different, but his signature zig-zag hair line also instantly grabbed me. I've seen him in some Todd/Kelly shorts as well as Keg 'O My Heart, Mixed Nuts, and the Our Gang short Honky Donkey. Any info or photos are much appreciated. I felt a strange connection with him the first time I saw him on screen. A unique and interesting individual I'd love to learn more about.

Thank you for your help!

Yeah, I've always liked Don Barclay too, but his prime work is definitely in those Roach shorts in the early-mid 30's. I have prints of all four of his 1915 Keystone shorts, and A HOME-BREAKING HOUND is his only starring role in those. Most of his later work is bit parts, but one good role he does have is as John Wayne's side-kick in the 1937 Universal programmer I COVER THE WAR, and he also does side-kick work in a couple of Bob Steele westerns around the same time. He drops a lot of the feyness you see in his Roach films later on, but he still got that peculiar delivery. He would have made a great member of the Preston Sturges Stock Company, but that unfortunately didn't happen, but even his walk-ons are usually fun.


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Steve Massa
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Re: Don Barclay

Unread post by Steve Massa » Fri Apr 19, 2013 10:06 pm

I've always been a fan of Barclay's too from seeing him frequently when I was a kid in Our Gang's HONKEY DONKEY ('34). Besides his appearances in the 1916 and 1917 editions of the Ziegfeld Follies, he spent most of the 1920s in revues such as GREENWICH VILLAGE FOLLIES OF 1924, GO-GO, MERRY GO-ROUND, and OH! OH! NURSE (there are numerous stage photos of him in the collection of the New York Public Library). His silent film career was a bit more substantial than imdb lets on as they omit the 1918 one-reelers he starred in for Essanay such as CHECK YOUR HAT, SIR? and ALL STUCK UP. He was also briefly teamed with Lige Conley in the Jack White Mermaids BLAZES and LOOK OUT BELOW (both 1922).

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Re: Don Barclay

Unread post by azjazzman » Sat Apr 20, 2013 2:11 am

Holmes wrote:So, I've recently seen a few shorts that Don Barclay have appeared in. I know he's had quite the sporadic career, but I'd love to learn more about him. According to IMDB, he started in motion pictures in 1915 in a Mack Swain short and it spread all the way to the '60's to his last film appearance in Mary Poppins. He was an accomplished cartoonist and painter as well, but I'm interested more in his time in film. From what I've seen in his time with Roach, his dialog and delivery was very unique and precise. I was curious if his "character" from his time at Roach carried on to the rest of his film career? I haven't seen much of his work after the mid '30's. I noticed that he was uncredited in a lot of films that he appeared in later on. His speech especially caught me as something different, but his signature zig-zag hair line also instantly grabbed me. I've seen him in some Todd/Kelly shorts as well as Keg 'O My Heart, Mixed Nuts, and the Our Gang short Honky Donkey. Any info or photos are much appreciated. I felt a strange connection with him the first time I saw him on screen. A unique and interesting individual I'd love to learn more about.

Thank you for your help!
Don Barclay was a friend of my father's, and I met him several times. He was a character if there ever was one. He lived in Scottsdale, AZ after he retired. He used to hang in the Pink Pony, a Scottsdale restaurant. He did caricatures of Pink Pony regulars that the owner hung on the wall behind the bar, sort of like the Brown Derby. I still have the one he did of my dad. They auctioned off the rest of Barclay's artwork a couple of years ago.

One thing I remember Barclay telling me is that Walt Disney considered him something of a "good luck charm", which is why Walt was always after Don to do voice work for him, even after he had retired and left Hollywood.

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Re: Don Barclay

Unread post by bobfells » Sat Apr 20, 2013 7:20 am

Don Barclay teamed with Cary Grant in touring the camps during WWII. I have a joint appearance of theirs on Eddie Cantor's radio show in 1943.
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Re: Don Barclay

Unread post by Native Baltimoron » Sat Apr 20, 2013 11:13 am

Don Barclay was a member of the Masquers Club of Hollywood, and as with the Pink Pony, he left some artwork behind. I believe the Smithsonian even has a caricture he did of Bob Hope entitled, "SkiNose." The club has retained part of it's Barclay collection with the most recent one posted on The Masquers Facebook site, being a portrait of John Barrymore. I'm sure that as more of his art is archived, it will be displayed online.
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Don Barclay

Unread post by JFK » Sat Apr 20, 2013 4:28 pm

ImageImage

The Washington {D. C.} Times November 18, 1920
(Click Image For A Bigger Eyeful)


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Last edited by JFK on Sun Feb 05, 2017 1:24 am, edited 5 times in total.

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Holmes
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Re: Don Barclay

Unread post by Holmes » Sat Apr 20, 2013 4:49 pm

I appreciate all the help and info so far! Steve, thank you for filling in some gaps when he wasn't on screen. I was curious what he was doing in the '20's since his time in film was irregular. Do you know if any of his one-reelers from Essanay still exist? I'd love to see any of his silent work, but his delivery was so noteworthy in his Roach shorts that I've seen, it obviously wouldn't be the same.

Thanks again everyone for sharing your stories and what you know about him. It sounds like he was truly a unique individual.
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Re: Don Barclay

Unread post by Ray Faiola » Thu Apr 25, 2013 6:43 am

I have a 16mm print of a TV pilot Don Barclay did for Hal Roach - BOTTSFORD'S BEANERY. The co-star is none other than Candy Candido. It's a sitcom about a lunchroom. Not very good but certainly rare!!
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Re: Don Barclay

Unread post by Steve Massa » Thu Apr 25, 2013 12:23 pm

Hi Tim - sadly none of Barclay's Essnany shorts are known to exist. Maybe we'll find one at this year's Mostly Lost. We did recently find a still unidentified Hal Roach "Skinny" comedy with Dee Lampton at LOC, so you never know.

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Re: Don Barclay

Unread post by Wm. Charles Morrow » Thu Apr 25, 2013 6:52 pm

In the files of the Performing Arts Library I found a nice little feature story about Barclay. It was written by Frederick C. Othman, and first ran in the N.Y. Morning Telegraph on March 21, 1944, under the headline AN ORIGINAL ‘BARCLAY’ FOR YOUR FAVORITE BAR -- CARTOONIST TURNS ‘EM OUT IN LOTS; OVERSEAS TO DRAW PIN-UPS FOR BOYS.

Here's the article in its entirety:

HOLLYWOOD, Mar. 21 --

All over these United States, as you have noticed (if you are a drinking man), are saloons decorated with caricatures of movie stars. Somebody must paint these not-so-pretty pictures and that somebody turns out to be Don Barclay, headlining vaudevillian when you were a boy.

This Barclay is quite a guy. He does those cartoons in wholesale lots, distributes them through furniture dealers at $10 a copy, and frequently gets orders for a couple of hundred of them from one joint. More than 400 saloons at this writing display original Barclays on their walls and since Barclay can do an original Barclay in 15 minutes, he’s about as prosperous an artist as there is.

Barclay is also a movie actor between stretches at the drawing board and furthermore he’s a war entertainer to stop most war entertainers. He’s just returned from four months in India, Burma and China, where he whiled away the long airplane rides by turning out $700 worth of original Barclays.

What he did for the soldiers through the Far East was make pictures of them, for free, and more barracks now contain original Barclays probably than do saloons. So there was Barclay at the 26th Fighter Squadron base in China, not so far from Japan.

“And you know what those babies wanted me to do?” he asked. “They said they wanted me to pick ‘em out a pin-up girl. They told me to pick out a good kid that would take care of ‘em with letters. So I said: ‘What are the requirements of you flying wolves?’ They told me, to hell with the big shots. They said they’d like some nice little girl who was getting a start in the picture business. They said she ought to have a brother in the service, that she’d have to promise to write regularly, and that she’d need to provide those physical attributes that go to make a girl a pin-up girl. I now am looking for same.”

We first got interested in talking to Barclay through the sales talk of his unofficial press agent, Cary Grant, who thinks he is about the finest man that ever lived.

Seems that when Grant was starting in show business under his real name of Archie Leach, he made his first appearance in a vaudeville house in Ipswich. He knew nothing about acting. He saw Barclay’s name on the bill as headliner and he regarded him as a god.

“And he was kind to me,” Grant said. “He helped me with my makeup. He gave me tips on what to do on the stage and he even helped out with food and lodging. I came to the United States and there was Barclay lending the helping hand. He put me up in a hotel, bought my food, and gave me money to spend while I was looking for a job. Nobody ever had been so wonderful to me.”

Barclay blushingly admitted that he had been a good Samaritan. He added that Grant paid back every cent when he got his first job and he said: “He is a good guy, but he embarrasses me. I didn’t do anything for him. All I did was introduce him to people who could help him in show business. Then he sold himself.”

And with that Barclay turned to a portrait of C. Gable, with emphasis on the ears. How else, he said, could a man earn ten bucks more easily?
-- Charlie Morrow

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Re: Don Barclay

Unread post by Richard Finegan » Sat Apr 27, 2013 12:55 am

A favorite Don Barclay still:
Shemp Howard visits the set of FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLF MAN.
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