Prepare to be regaled with stories of growing up with his grandfather, a West Texas farmer. Barry will also speak about drought and the need for water conservation.
Equally at home in a Shakespearean doublet or a cowboy hat, native Texan Barry Corbin has become the kind of actor who makes an impression on audiences no matter how large or small the role. While he’s a dynamic lead, Corbin has become a favored pinch hitter to whom directors turn when they need a performer who can set the stage with just one or two scenes.
Born in Lamesa, Corbin began acting while a student at Texas Tech. Following a stint in the Marines, he took to the stage on Broadway and around the country throughout the ’60s in plays as varied as Becket, The Odd Couple, and The Merry Wives of Windsor. He moved to Los Angeles in the late 1970s to write plays for National Public Radio, but his movie career took off following his memorable portrayal of Uncle Bob in Urban Cowboy.
Over the course of his extraordinary career, Corbin has played everything from con men to cowpokes and military men to millionaires. The ’80s saw him stealing scenes in films like WarGames (as a general who doesn’t believe in trusting computers to manage nuclear warfare) and Nothing in Common (as a no-nonsense airline tycoon who loves horses more than airplanes), and of course in his unforgettable role as the bumbling deputy Roscoe Brown in the acclaimed mini-series adaptation of Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove. And yes, Dallas fans, that was Corbin playing Sheriff Washburn, the lawman who tangled with the Ewing clan many times over the run of the series.
1990 saw the premiere of Northern Exposure, which gave Corbin a plum role for five seasons as former astronaut Maurice J. Minnifield, the real estate tycoon and entrepreneur who pretty much owns the entire town of Cicely, Alaska, but whose wealth can’t mend the heartbreak of losing his fiancee to his one-time best friend. The role brought Corbin international recognition as well as two well-deserved Emmy nominations.
Maurice’s irascible nature was clearly something both character and actor shared: Corbin wrote an open letter to CBS accusing them of harming Northern Exposure when they moved the show from Monday to Wednesday, and when Universal refused to pay to transport the show’s cast and crew to the Emmys, Corbin and his daughter rode up to the ceremony on horseback.
But as a real-life cowboy – who got the acting bug as a child, when he decided he wanted to be Gabby Hayes – it’s Corbin’s roles as a good ol’ boy, generally one who’s smarter than observers give him credit for, that stand out the most. In recent films like No Country for Old Men, In the Valley of Elah, and That Evening Sun, Corbin has dazzled audiences and critics alike with some of his richest work, all of which happened after his 65th birthday.
And with a full plate of upcoming projects, Corbin shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon.
You may find out more about Barry’s storied career on his website.