Lex Barker

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Lex Barker
Lex Barker Karen Kondazian May 1973.jpg
Lex Barker with his fiancée Karen Kondazian on May 1, 1973, 10 days before his death
Alexander Crichlow Barker, Jr.

(1919-05-08)May 8, 1919
DiedMay 11, 1973(1973-05-11) (aged 54)
Years active1945–1972
Constance Rhodes Thurlow(m. 1942–1950)

Arlene Dahl (m. 1951–1952)

Lana Turner (m. 1953–1957)

Irene Labhart(m. 1959–1962)

Tita Cervera (m. 1965–1972)
Partner(s) Karen Kondazian (1972–1973)

Alexander Crichlow "Lex" Barker Jr. (May 8, 1919 – May 11, 1973) was an American actor best known for playing Tarzan of the Apes and leading characters from Karl May's novels. [1]

Tarzan fictional character from Edgar Rice Burroughss Tarzan of the Apes

Tarzan is a fictional character, an archetypal feral child raised in the African jungle by the Mangani great apes; he later experiences civilization only to reject it and return to the wild as a heroic adventurer. Created by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan first appeared in the novel Tarzan of the Apes, and subsequently in 25 sequels, several authorized books by other authors, and innumerable works in other media, both authorized and unauthorized. The film version of Tarzan as the noble savage, as acted by Johnny Weissmuller, does not reflect the original character in the novels, who is gracious and highly sophisticated.

Karl May German writer

Karl Friedrich May was a German writer best known for his adventure novels set in the American Old West. His main protagonists are Winnetou and Old Shatterhand. May set similar books in the Orient and Middle East, Latin America and Germany. May also wrote poetry, a play, and composed music; he was a proficient player of several musical instruments. Many of his works were adapted for film, stage, audio dramas and comics. Later in his career, May turned to philosophical and spiritual genres. He is one of the best-selling German writers of all time with about 200 million copies worldwide.


Early life

Alexander Crichlow Barker, Jr. was born on May 8, 1919 in Rye, New York. He was the second child of Alexander Crichlow Barker, Sr., a wealthy Canadian-born building contractor, [2] and his American wife, the former Marion Thornton Beals. [3]

Rye, New York City in New York, United States

Rye is a city in Westchester County, New York, United States. It is separate from the town of Rye, which has more land area than the city. Rye city, formerly the village of Rye, was part of the town until it received its charter as a city in 1942. The population was 15,720 at the 2010 census. Rye is the youngest city in New York state. No other city has been chartered anywhere in New York state since 1942.

His father later worked as a stockbroker. Barker had an elder sister, Frederica Amelia "Freddie" Barlow (1917–1980). Raised in New York City and Port Chester, New York, Lex Barker attended the Fessenden School and graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy. He played football as well as the oboe. He attended Princeton University, but dropped out to join a theatrical stock company, much to the chagrin of his family. [4]

Stockbroker professional who buys and sells shares and other securities for both retail and institutional clients

A stockbroker or share broker is a regulated professional individual, usually associated with a brokerage firm or broker-dealer, who buys and sells stocks and other securities for both retail and institutional clients through a stock exchange or over the counter in return for a fee or commission. Stockbrokers are known by numerous professional designations, depending on the license they hold, the type of securities they sell, or the services they provide. In the United States, a stockbroker must pass both the Series 7 and either the Series 63 or the Series 66 exams in order to be properly licensed.

Port Chester, New York Village in New York, United States

Port Chester is a village in Westchester County, New York, United States. The village is part of the town of Rye. As of the 2010 census, Port Chester had a population of 28,967. Port Chester borders on the State of Connecticut to the east. The village's name is pronounced with the same stress pattern as the county's, i.e., "PORT ches-ter", not "Port CHES-ter".

Fessenden School

The Fessenden School is an independent day and boarding school for boys, founded in 1903 by Frederick J. Fessenden, and located at 250 Waltham Street, West Newton, Massachusetts, United States, on a 41-acre (0.17 km2) campus.



Barker made it to Broadway once, in a small role in a short run of Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor in 1938. [5] He also had a small role in Orson Welles's disastrous Five Kings, which met with so many problems in Boston and Philadelphia that it never made it into New York City. [6]

Broadway theatre class of professional theater presented in New York City, New York, USA

Broadway theatre, commonly known as Broadway, refers to the theatrical performances presented in the 41 professional theatres, each with 500 or more seats located in the Theater District and Lincoln Center along Broadway, in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. Along with London's West End theatre, Broadway theatre is widely considered to represent the highest level of commercial theatre in the English-speaking world.

William Shakespeare English playwright and poet

William Shakespeare was an English poet, playwright and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's greatest dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon". His extant works, including collaborations, consist of approximately 39 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and a few other verses, some of uncertain authorship. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright.

<i>The Merry Wives of Windsor</i> play by Shakespeare

The Merry Wives of Windsor is a comedy by William Shakespeare first published in 1602, though believed to have been written in or before 1597. The Windsor of the play's title is a reference to the town of Windsor, also the location of Windsor Castle, in Berkshire, England. Though nominally set in the reign of Henry IV, the play makes no pretense to exist outside contemporary Elizabethan era English middle class life. It features the character Sir John Falstaff, the fat knight who had previously been featured in Henry IV, Part 1 and Part 2. It has been adapted for the opera on several occasions. The play is one of Shakespeare's lesser-regarded works among literary critics.

World War Two

In February 1941, ten months before the attack on Pearl Harbor, Barker left his fledgling acting career and enlisted in the US Army. He rose to the rank of major during the war. [7] He was wounded in action (in the head and leg) fighting in Sicily. [8]

Pearl Harbor harbor on the island of Oahu, Hawaii

Pearl Harbor is a lagoon harbor on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, west of Honolulu. It has been long visited by the Naval fleet of the United States, before it was acquired from the Hawaiian Kingdom by the U.S. with the signing of the Reciprocity Treaty of 1875. Much of the harbor and surrounding lands is now a United States Navy deep-water naval base. It is also the headquarters of the United States Pacific Fleet. The U.S. government first obtained exclusive use of the inlet and the right to maintain a repair and coaling station for ships here in 1887. The attack on Pearl Harbor by the Empire of Japan on December 7, 1941, was the immediate cause of the United States' entry into World War II.

United States Army Land warfare branch of the United States Armed Forces

The United States Army (USA) is the land warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces. It is one of the seven uniformed services of the United States, and is designated as the Army of the United States in the United States Constitution. As the oldest and most senior branch of the U.S. military in order of precedence, the modern U.S. Army has its roots in the Continental Army, which was formed to fight the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783)—before the United States of America was established as a country. After the Revolutionary War, the Congress of the Confederation created the United States Army on 3 June 1784 to replace the disbanded Continental Army. The United States Army considers itself descended from the Continental Army, and dates its institutional inception from the origin of that armed force in 1775.

Sicily Island in the Mediterranean and region of Italy

Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea and one of the 20 regions of Italy. It is one of the five Italian autonomous regions, in Southern Italy along with surrounding minor islands, officially referred to as Regione Siciliana.

Early film roles

Back in the US, he recuperated at an Arkansas military hospital, then upon his discharge from service, traveled to Los Angeles. Within a short time, he landed a small role in his first film, Doll Face (1945). [9]

Arkansas State of the United States of America

Arkansas is a state in the southern region of the United States, home to over 3 million people as of 2017. Its name is of Siouan derivation from the language of the Osage denoting their related kin, the Quapaw Indians. The state's diverse geography ranges from the mountainous regions of the Ozark and the Ouachita Mountains, which make up the U.S. Interior Highlands, to the densely forested land in the south known as the Arkansas Timberlands, to the eastern lowlands along the Mississippi River and the Arkansas Delta.

Los Angeles City in California

Los Angeles, officially the City of Los Angeles and often known by its initials L.A., is the most populous city in California and the second most populous city in the United States, after New York. With an estimated population of four million, Los Angeles is the cultural, financial, and commercial center of Southern California. Nicknamed the "City of Angels" partly because of its name's Spanish meaning, Los Angeles is known for its Mediterranean climate, ethnic diversity, Hollywood, and the entertainment industry, and sprawling metropolis.

<i>Doll Face</i> 1945 film by Lewis Seiler

Doll Face is a 1945 American film released by 20th Century Fox and directed by Lewis Seiler starring Vivian Blaine as "Doll Face" Carroll. It also stars actor Dennis O'Keefe and singers Carmen Miranda and Perry Como.

A string of small roles followed, in films such as Two Guys from Milwaukee (1945) and Cloak and Dagger (1946).


Barker signed a contract at RKO. He had small roles in The Farmer's Daughter (1947), Crossfire (1947), and Under the Tonto Rim (1947). [9]

Barker went to Paramount for Unconquered (1947). Back at RKO he was in Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome (1947), Berlin Express (1948), Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948), The Velvet Touch (1948), and Return of the Bad Men (1948), playing Emmett Dalton. [9]


In Tarzan's Magic Fountain (1949), Barker became the tenth official Tarzan of the movies. His blond, handsome, and intelligent appearance, as well as his athletic, now 6'4" frame, helped make him popular in the role Johnny Weissmuller had made his own for sixteen years. His Jane was Brenda Joyce who had been in Weissmuller's last three films. [10]

Barker's second Tarzan was Tarzan and the Slave Girl (1950), where Jane was played by Vanessa Brown. In Tarzan's Peril (1951), Barker's Jane was Virginia Huston, with African location footage. Dorothy Hart was Jane in Tarzan's Savage Fury (1952), directed by Cy Endfield. [11] [12]

Barker got the chance to play a non-Tarzan role in Battles of Chief Pontiac (1952), a Western. [13] He returned to the role one last time in Tarzan and the She-Devil (1953). [11] [12]


Barker supported Randolph Scott in a Western at Warner Bros, Thunder Over the Plains (1953). [14]

At Universal he starred in the Western The Yellow Mountain (1954) and The Man from Bitter Ridge (1955). He went to Columbia to make Duel on the Mississippi (1955). [9]

Barker had a rare non-Western role in The Price of Fear (1956), a film noir with Merle Oberon. He was in the war movie Away All Boats (1956) [9] and a thriller with Zsa Zsa Gabor, The Girl in the Kremlin (1957). [15]

Barker made two films for Howard W. Koch: a Western for United Artists, War Drums (1957), [9] playing Mangas Coloradas; and Jungle Heat (1957), [16] an adventure film. He went to 20th Century Fox for The Deerslayer (1957), [9] then did another for Koch, The Girl in Black Stockings (1957). [17]


In 1957, as he found it harder to find work in American films, Barker moved to Europe (he spoke French, Italian, Spanish, and some German), [18] where he found popularity and starred in over 40 European films, including two movies based on the novels by Italian author Emilio Salgari (1862–1911). [19]

He started his European career with a British thriller The Strange Awakening (1958). He went to Italy to star in some swashbucklers, Captain Falcon (1959), Son of the Red Corsair (1959), The Pirate and the Slave Girl (1959), and Terror of the Red Mask (1960). [20]

Barker had a short but compelling role as Anita Ekberg's fiancé in Federico Fellini's La Dolce Vita (1960). [21]

He went back to swashbucklers: Knight of 100 Faces (1960), Pirates of the Coast (1960), Robin Hood and the Pirates (1960), and The Secret of the Black Falcon (1961). [20]


In Germany, he had his greatest success. There he starred in movies based on the "Doctor Mabuse" stories (formerly filmed by Fritz Lang), in the movies The Return of Doctor Mabuse (1961). [22] He was in Doctor Sibelius (1962).

Barker then played Old Shatterhand in an adaptation of the novel by German author Karl May (1842–1912), Treasure of the Silver Lake (1962). [23] It was a huge hit, 11 movies adapting stories by Karl May were following until 1968. [24] Barker did a comedy, Breakfast in Bed (1962), then an adventure movie Storm Over Ceylon (1963). He returned to Italy for The Executioner of Venice (1963) [25] [26] and Kali Yug: Goddess of Vengeance (1963). [9]

Barker reprised his role as Old Shatterhand in Apache Gold (1964), Old Shatterhand (1964) and Last of the Renegades (1965). [9] [16] He went to Britain for Victim Five (1964), [16] [27] then returned to Germany for other adaptations of May books: Der Schatz der Azteken (1965), Die Pyramide des Sonnengottes (1965). [28] 24 Hours to Kill (1965) was a British movie. [27] The Hell of Manitoba (1965) and The Desperado Trail (1966) were Westerns. [29]

In 1966, Barker was awarded the "Bambi Award" as "Best Foreign Actor" in Germany, where he was a major, very popular, star. [30] He even recorded two songs in German: "Ich bin morgen auf dem Weg zu dir" ("I'll be on the way to you tomorrow", composed by Martin Böttcher, the composer of some of the soundtracks of the Karl May movies) and "Mädchen in Samt und Seide" ("Girl in Silk and Velvet", composed by Werner Scharfenberger). [31]

Later films included Killer's Carnival (1966), and Winnetou and the Crossbreed (1967). He was in Woman Times Seven (1967). [16] He returned to the United States occasionally and made a handful of guest appearances on American television episodes, but Europe, and especially Germany, was his professional home for the remainder of his life.

Personal life

Barker was married five times:


Barker died three days after his 54th birthday, on May 11, 1973, of a heart attack while walking down a street in New York City on his way to meet his fiancée, actress Karen Kondazian. [35] The funeral was in New York. He was cremated and the ashes were taken by his wife Tita to Spain.



1945 Doll Face Jack, Coast GuardsmanUncredited
1946Do You Love MeParty GuestUncredited
1946 Two Guys from Milwaukee Fred, the UsherUncredited
1946 Cloak and Dagger Man Rescued at EndUncredited
1947 The Farmer's Daughter Olaf Holstrom
1947 Crossfire Harry
1947 Under the Tonto Rim Joe, Deputy in Tonto
1947 Unconquered Royal American OfficerUncredited
1947 Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome Ambulance DriverUncredited
1948 Berlin Express SoldierUncredited
1948 Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House Carpenter Foreman
1948 The Velvet Touch Paul Banton
1948 Return of the Badmen Emmett Dalton
1949 Tarzan's Magic Fountain Tarzan
1950 Tarzan and the Slave Girl Tarzan
1951 Tarzan's Peril Tarzan
1952 Tarzan's Savage Fury Tarzan
1952 Battles of Chief Pontiac Lt. Kent McIntire
1953 Tarzan and the She-Devil Tarzan
1953 Thunder Over the Plains Captain Bill Hodges
1954The Mystery of The Black JungleTremal NaikOriginal (Italian) title: I misteri della giungla nera  [ it ]
1954 Black Devils of Kali  [ it ]Tramal NaikOriginal (Italian) title: La vendetta dei Tughs
1954 The Yellow Mountain Andy Martin
1955 The Man from Bitter Ridge Jeff Carr
1955 Duel on the Mississippi André Tulane
1956 The Price of Fear Dave Barrett
1956 Away All Boats Commander Quigley
1957 War Drums Mangas Coloradas
1957 The Girl in the Kremlin Steve Anderson
1957 Jungle Heat Dr. Jim Ransom
1957 The Deerslayer Deerslayer
1957 The Girl in Black Stockings David Hewson
1958 The Strange Awakening Peter Chance
1958 Captain Falcon PietroOriginal (Italian) title: Capitan Fuoco
1959 Son of the Red Corsair Enrico di VentimigliaOriginal (Italian) title: Il figlio del corsaro rosso
1959 The Pirate and the Slave Girl Dragon DrakutOriginal (Italian) title: La scimitarra del Saraceno
1959Mission in MoroccoBruce Reynolds
1960 Terror of the Red Mask MarcoOriginal (Italian) title: Terrore della maschera rossa
1960 La Dolce Vita RobertItalian film
1960 Knight of 100 Faces Riccardo D'ArceOriginal (Italian) title: Il cavaliere dai cento volti
1960 Pirates of the Coast Captain Luis MontereyOriginal (Italian) title: I pirati della costa
1960 Robin Hood and the Pirates Robin Hood Original (Italian) title: Robin Hood e i pirati
1961 The Secret of the Black Falcon Captain Don Carlos de HerreraOriginal (Italian) title: Il segreto dello sparviero nero
1961 Le Trésor des hommes bleus  [ fr ]FredSpanish/French film
1961 The Return of Dr. Mabuse FBI-Agent Joe ComoOriginal (German) title: Im Stahlnetz des Dr. Mabuse
1962 The Invisible Dr. Mabuse  [ de ]FBI-Agent Joe ComoOriginal (German) title: Die unsichtbaren Krallen des Dr. Mabuse
1962 Doctor Sibelius Dr. Georg SibeliusOriginal (German) title: Frauenarzt Dr. Sibelius
1962 Treasure of the Silver Lake Old Shatterhand Original (German) title: Der Schatz im Silbersee
1963 Breakfast in Bed Victor H. ArmstrongOriginal (German) title: Frühstück im Doppelbett
1963 Storm Over Ceylon Larry StoneOriginal (German) title: Das Todesauge von Ceylon
1963 The Executioner of Venice Sandrigo BemboOriginal (Italian) title: Il boia di Venezia
1963 Kali Yug: Goddess of Vengeance Major FordOriginal (Italian) title: Kali Yug, la dea della vendetta
1963 Il mistero del tempio indiano  [ fr ]Major FordItalian film
1963 Apache Gold Old ShatterhandOriginal (German) title: Winnetou I
1964 Apaches' Last Battle Old ShatterhandOriginal (German) title: Old Shatterhand
1964 Victim Five Steve MartinUK film, US title: Code 7, Victim 5
1964 Yellow Devil  [ de ] Kara Ben Nemsi Original (German) title: Der Schut
1964 Last of the Renegades Old ShatterhandOriginal (German) title: Winnetou II
1965 The Treasure of the Aztecs Dr. Karl SternauOriginal (German) title: Der Schatz der Azteken
1965 Pyramid of the Sun God Dr. Karl SternauOriginal (German) title: Die Pyramide des Sonnengottes
1965 Twenty-Four Hours to Kill Captain Jamie FaulknerUK film
1965 The Hell of Manitoba a.k.a.A Place Called GloryClint BrennerOriginal (German) title: Die Hölle von Manitoba
1965 The Wild Men of Kurdistan  [ de ]Kara Ben NemsiOriginal (German) title: Durchs wilde Kurdistan
1965 The Desperado Trail Old ShatterhandOriginal (German) title: Winnetou III
1965 Fury of the Sabers  [ de ]Kara Ben NemsiOriginal (German) title: Im Reiche des silbernen Löwen
1966 Who Killed Johnny R.?  [ de ]Sam DobieOriginal (German) title: Wer kennt Johnny R.?
1966 Killer's Carnival Glenn CassidyOriginal (French) title: Le carnaval des barbouzes, (Rio segment)
1966 Winnetou and the Crossbreed Old ShatterhandOriginal (German) title: Winnetou und das Halbblut Apanatschi
1967 Woman Times Seven Rik(segment "Super Simone")
1967 Spy Today, Die Tomorrow Bob UrbanOriginal (German) title: Mister Dynamit – Morgen küßt Euch der Tod
1967 The Blood Demon Roger Mont EliseOriginal (German) title: Die Schlangengrube und das Pendel
Also released as: The Torture Chamber of Dr. Sadism
1968 The Valley of Death Old ShatterhandOriginal (German) title: Winnetou und Shatterhand im Tal der Toten
1970AoomRistolSpanish film
1970 When You're With Me Kapitän Hannes SchneiderOriginal (German) title: Wenn du bei mir bist


1952 Tales of Tomorrow KurtEpisode: "Red Dust"
1956 Lux Video Theatre Stephen DexterEpisode: "Hired Wife"
1956–1957 Studio 57 Brad / Robin Ridour2 episodes
1960 Tales of the Vikings König GordarEpisode: "The Shield"
1963Berlin-MelodieTelevision film
1969 It Takes a Thief Kurt 'Matt' MatsonEpisode: "The King of Thieves"
1971 The Name of the Game Will CheyenneEpisode: "The Man Who Killed a Ghost"
1971 The F.B.I. Owen StuartEpisode: "Three-Way Split"
1972 Night Gallery Charlie McKinleySegment: "The Waiting Room"


See also

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<i>Tarzans Magic Fountain</i> 1950 film by Lee Sholem

Tarzan's Magic Fountain is a 1949 Tarzan film directed by Lee Sholem and starring Lex Barker as Tarzan and Brenda Joyce as his companion Jane. The film also features Albert Dekker and Evelyn Ankers. It was co-written by Curt Siodmak.

<i>Tarzan and the Slave Girl</i> 1950 film by Lee Sholem

Tarzan and the Slave Girl is a 1950 film directed by Lee Sholem and starring Lex Barker as Tarzan, Vanessa Brown as Jane, and Robert Alda as big game hunter Neil. The plot involves a lost civilization in Africa, a strange illness, and an evil counselor manipulating a prince into kidnapping large numbers of local women.

<i>Tarzan and the She-Devil</i> 1953 film by Kurt Neumann

Tarzan and the She-Devil is a 1953 American film directed by Kurt Neumann and starring Lex Barker as Tarzan and Joyce MacKenzie as Jane. It also features Raymond Burr, Tom Conway and Monique van Vooren, who plays the "She-Devil."

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<i>Last of the Renegades</i> 1964 film by Harald Reinl

Last of the Renegades is a 1964 German Western film directed by Harald Reinl and starring Lex Barker.

<i>The Desperado Trail</i> 1965 film by Harald Reinl

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<i>Winnetou and the Crossbreed</i> 1966 film by Harald Philipp

Winnetou and the Crossbreed is a 1966 West German Western film directed by Harald Philipp and starring Lex Barker, Pierre Brice, Götz George and Uschi Glas. It is part of the series of Karl May adaptations produced by Rialto Film during the decade. It was co-produced with Italy and Yugoslavia. The budget was an estimated three and a half million Deutschmarks.

<i>The Valley of Death</i> (film) 1968 film by Harald Reinl

The Valley of Death or Winnetou and Shatterhand in the Valley of Death is a 1968 western film directed by Harald Reinl and starring Lex Barker, Pierre Brice and Rik Battaglia. It was the last in a series of films based on Karl May novels. These had previously enjoyed major commercial success, although this film's box office returns were disappointing. It was effectively a remake of an earlier film in the series Treasure of the Silver Lake.

<i>The Hell of Manitoba</i> 1965 film by Sheldon Reynolds

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