Sunday, September 13, 2009

Thunderbirds Voice Actor Ray Barrett Passes On

Ray Barrett, who provided the voice for John Tracy on the TV series Thunderbirds and was one of the stars of the British Sixties series The Troubleshooters, passed on September 8 at the age of 82. The cause was a brain haemorrhage.

Ray Barrett was born on May 2, 1927 in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. From early age he had an interest in radio. At age 12 he even won a eisteddfod, which was broadcast on 4BH radio. After his graduation from Brisbane High School, Barrett received a job hosting a daily radio show. He was only 17 when he became the first actor to ever sign an exclusive contract with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. For much of the Fifties he appeared on various radio shows. He also made his first appearance on television in a guest shot on the Australian series The Adventures of Long John Silver. His first appearance in a feature film was in 1955 in The Desperate Women

In 1958 Ray Barrett decided to pursue his career in the United Kingdom. He guest starred twice on Armchair Theatre in the early Sixties. Small roles in the movies The Sundowners and Touch of Death followed by a recurring role in the soap opera Emergency-Ward 10 in 1961. For the next few years Barrett appeared both on television and in motion pictures. He guest starred on Out of This World, Man of the World, The Avengers, and Z Cars. He appeared in the movies Jigsaw, Mix Me a Person, 80,000 Suspects, and Valley of the Kings.

In 1963 Ray Barrett played the role of Peter Clarke on Ghost Squad, replacing Michael Quinn as Nick Craig. He guest starred on The Saint and Doctor Who before providing the voice of Commander Sam Shore and other characters on the Gerry Anderson, Supermarionation series Stingray. It was in 1965 that Barrett provided the voice of John Tracy on what may be the most famous Supermarionation show of all time, Thunderbirds. He also provided the voice of John Tracy in the feature film based on the show, Thunderbirds are GO. He also guest starred on Gideon's Way and The Spies, as well as the movie The Reptile.

It was in 1967 that Ray Barrett would be cast in what may be his most famous role aside from John Tracy on Thunderbirds. Barrett played Peter Thornton, field agent for the Mogul oil company. Most episodes nearly always placed Thornton in some kind of danger, ranging from industrial espionage to natural disasters. The Troubleshooters ran until 1972. From the Seventies into the Nineties, Barrett made guest appearances on such shows as Public Eye, The Adventures of Black Beauty, Dixon of Dock Green, The Outsiders, Five Mile Creek, Fire, and Medivac. He appeared in such films as Little Laura and Big John, The Hostages, The Earthling, A Dangerous Summer, Conferenceville, Rebel, Frenchman's Farm, As Time Goes By, Blood Oath, Hotel de Love, and In the Winter Dark.

It was in 2000 that Ray Barrett took the role of Len Taylor on the Australian soap opera Something in the Air. He guest starred on the shows Stingers and All Saints, and appeared in the movies Dalkieth and All Saints.

Ray Barrett was a remarkable actor with an impressive voice capable of doing various accents fairly well. He was quite versatile, playing characters from the soft spoken Peter Clarke of Ghost Squad to the more rough and tumble character of Peter Thornton on The Troubleshooters. It is little wonder his career, spent in radio, movies, and television, lasted over sixty years.


Holte Ender said...

How convincing an actor was Ray Barrett? I never knew he was Australian, I saw him a lot in the early 60s, thought he was a Brit.

Terence Towles Canote said...

I didn't know he was an Aussie until I did some research on Thunderbirds about a year or two ago. I always thought he was a Brit too!

Toby O'B said...

It's good to know you're out there, Merc. I don't think I'd even have known he died had it not been for your post. And then there are all the great articles that do over-views on various topics..... Thanks!