Obituary: Robert Guy Barrows (1926-2008)

February 5, 2008

Television writer Robert Guy Barrows died on January 31.  Barrows penned scripts for some of the top dramas, action shows, and westerns of the mid-sixties and early seventies: Ben Casey, Big Valley, Daniel Boone, Mission: Impossible, The Virginian, Run For Your Life, four for The Man Who Never Was.  He wrote the Fugitive episode wherein Kimble hides out in a home for the sightless and solves the problems of several embittered blind people, and three Kraft Suspense Theatres including “The Gun,” a strident gun control piece starring Eddie Albert.  My favorite Barrows script was his first Kraft, “The Machine That Played God,” with Anne Francis as a woman who kills her abusive husband in self-defense, but starts to lose confidence in her version of events after she flunks a lie detector test.

Barrows wrote most (but not all) of those scripts with his second wife, Judith, who was nine years his junior.  Shortly after Judith died from an overdose of pills in 1970, Barrows’ productivity as a TV writer largely ceased.

In his later years Barrows returned to his home state of Colorado, and recently resurfaced on the web.

Correction, 11/16/11: The original version of this piece misstated the cause of Judith Barrows’s death.  Thanks to Jane Klain for some fast research assistance.

4 Responses to “Obituary: Robert Guy Barrows (1926-2008)”

  1. Hello, it is inaccurate to say that Judith Friedman Barrows died in a car accident. Where did you get that information? -David Barrows (son of Robert Guy Barrows and Judith Friedman Barrows)

  2. Stephen Bowie Says:

    David, you are quite right – I got that wrong. Looking back, I suspect this post was written in haste, and I misremembered a detail from her Variety obituary without going back to verify it. I apologize for the error.

    According to Variety, Judith Barrows died on August 19, 1970, from an overdose of pills. She had been missing for 24 hours and was found in her car outside the Mt. Sinai cemetery in Hollywood, where her father was buried. At the time, Judith and Robert Barrows were living in Cuba, New Mexico, and commuting to Los Angeles to meet with producers. (On this particular trip, they were meeting with their agent to discuss a screenplay called The Greaser.) Variety gave her age as 36 but if the Social Security Death Index is accurate Judith died four days before her thirty-sixth birthday.

    Judith Barrows had been an assistant to producer Roy Huggins and a secretary for Robert Barrows before she teamed with him as a writing partner. That pairing inaugurated a very prolific period that ended abruptly with Judith’s death. During the late sixties they sold two screenplays, Buffalo Man and Squaw Dance (the former to Martin Ransohoff), and wrote a great deal of television, some of it quite good. All three of the film scripts remained unproduced, as far as I can tell.

    Some of the Barrowses’ earliest TV credits were on series produced by Roy Huggins – Kraft Suspense Theatre and Run For Your Life – and that connection interests me. Huggins was a mentor to a number of young writers in his heyday, including Philip DeGuere, Robert Foster, and at least one other woman, Gloryette Clark, who had a substantive career as both a writer and a film editor.

    David, I imagine some of this might be painful, but if you can share more information about your parents’ work as writers and your mother’s untimely passing, I would be most interested and I’m sure my readers would as well.

  3. Hi Stephen, thanks for making that correction.

    I have actually been working on a musical piece about this very topic, and was doing research for that project, which is why I happened upon your post. I’ll be releasing a music CD in January 2012 which tells this story from my perspective. Meanwhile people can take a look at my website which is Thanks and I will be in touch soon. Best regards.

  4. Hi Stephen, as I mentioned previously I’ve come out with a new music CD called “Dead Man’s Cake” largely pertaining to the story of my parents Judith Friedman Barrows and Robert Guy Barrows… here is a link:

    Please consider purchasing a copy… thank you, -David Barrows

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