biography

Born Alexander Barker Jr. in New York on May 8, 1919, Lex Barker came from a wealthy family that didn't think too much of performing artists. Therefore, in the early 1940s when Barker decided to drop out of Princeton to become an actor, his family practically disowned him. Although he was spotted by 20th Century-Fox talent scouts and was offered a contract, Barker enlisted in the Armed Forces during World War II, as many other actors had done. After the war, the talented Barker attempted to resume his acting career and began landing small roles in good films. But he would have to wait for stardom until 1949, when producer Sol Lesser selected Lex Barker, after screening hundreds of actors to replace Johnny Weissmuller, for the title role in Tarzan's Magic Fountain.

Lex BarkerLex BarkerLex Barker

LEFT: Barker as Tarzan. CENTER: Working out in the 1950s. RIGHT: Signed photo, thanks to Carol L. Simonson. You will find more photos like these in the Lex Barker Gallery

Barker's first outing as Tarzan, Tarzan's Magic Fountain (1949; with Brenda Joyce, Albert Dekker, and Evelyn Ankers) was arguably his best Tarzan film. In addition to Tarzan's Magic Fountain, Barker made four more Tarzan films for Sol Lesser: Tarzan and the Slave Girl (1950; with Robert Alda), Tarzan's Peril (1951; with George Macready), Tarzan's Savage Fury (1952; with Dorothy Hart), and Tarzan and the She-Devil (1953; with Raymond Burr, Tom Conway, and Monique van Vooren). The next actor to take on the role of Tarzan was Gordon Scott in 1955.

Lex BarkerLex BarkerLex BarkerLex Barker and Lana Turner

LEFT and CENTER: Studio photos of Lex Barker. RIGHT: With third wife Lana Turner in a photo taken right after their 1953 marriage


With the Tarzan series behind him, Barker's film career began to stall; the rise of television had erased many roles for the handsome leading man. He made a dozen or so pictures, including several westerns, between 1954 and 1958---the best of these includes The Girl in the Kremlin (1957; with Zsa Zsa Gabor) and Strange Awakening (1958). Lex Barker's career got a second wind in 1958, when he began making films in Europe, a move that saw his popularity explode once again. He was especially successful in Germany, where he made many films in several popular series. In the early 1960s, Barker was hailed as the best foreign actor in Germany.

Married five times, Barker's two most famous wives were Arlene Dahl (1951-52) and Lana Turner (1953-57). With his first wife, Constanze Thurlow, Barker had a son and daughter, but that union ended in 1950. His fourth wife, Irene Labhardt, bore Barker a son, Christopher, in 1960 (Christopher Barker is now an actor). Sadly, Labhardt died suddenly in 1962. By 1965, Barker married again, this time to Maria del Carmen Cervera, but this relationship soured quickly.

the films of lex barker

Tarzan's Magic Fountain (1949)

Lex BarkerLex BarkerLex BarkerLex Barker

Stills from RKO's Tarzan's Magic Fountain

Tarzan and the Slave Girl (1950)

Vanessa Brown, Denise Darcel, and Lex BarkerLex Barker

LEFT: Barker rescues Vanessa Brown and Denise Darcel in Tarzan and the Slave Girl. RIGHT: Barker in his second outing as Tarzan

Tarzan's Peril (1951)

Lex Barker on location

Barker on location while shooting Tarzan's Peril

Tarzan's Savage Fury (1952)

Lex Barker, Dorothy Hart, and Tommy CarltonLex Barker, Dorothy Hart, and Tommy CarltonLex Barker and Tommy Carlton

Studio photos with Dorothy Hart as Jane and Tommy Carlton as Joey

Tarzan and the She-Devil (1953)

Lex Barker and Monique van Vooren

Barker, in his last film as Tarzan, is captured by she-devil Monique van Vooren

Thunder Over the Plains (1953)

Lex Barker and Randolph Scott

With Randolph Scott in the Warner Bros. western Thunder Over the Plains

The Yellow Mountain (1954)

Mala Powers and Lex BarkerHoward Duff and Lex Barker

From the Universal-International western The Yellow Mountain. LEFT: With Mala Powers. RIGHT: With Howard Duff

The Man From Bitter Ridge (1955)

Lex Barker

Promotional still from The Man From Bitter Ridge

The Price of Fear (1956)

Lex BarkerGia Scala and Lex BarkerCharles Drake, Merle Oberon, and Lex Barker

From the Universal-International film noir crime drama The Price of Fear. LEFT: Barker as Dave Barrett. CENTER: With Gia Scala. RIGHT: With Charles Drake and Merle Oberon

The Girl in Black Stockings (1957)

Mamie Van Doren, Lex Barker, Anne Bancroft, and Marie WindsorJohn Dehner and Lex Barker

LEFT: Barker is surrounded by Mamie Van Doren, Anne Bancroft, and Marie Windsor in the film noir serial killer thriller The Girl in Black Stockings. RIGHT: With John Dehner

Jungle Heat (1957)

Lex BarkerLex Barker and Mari Blanchard

LEFT: From the campy jungle adventure Jungle Heat with Rhodes Reason, James Westerfield, Glenn Langan, and Mari Blanchard. RIGHT: With Mari Blanchard

The Deerslayer (1957)

Lex Barker and Rita Moreno

With Rita Moreno in the 20th Century Fox western The Deerslayer

The Girl in the Kremlin (1957)

Lex Barker and Zsa Zsa Gabor

From Universal-International's The Girl in the Kremlin with Zsa Zsa Gabor

The Return of Dr. Mabuse (1961)


Gert Frobe and Lex Barker

With Gert Frobe in the mystery The Return of Dr. Mabuse


Apache Gold (1963)


Lex Barker

Barker as Old Shatterhand in the German-made western Apache Gold


Code 7, Victim 5 (1964)


Lex BarkerLex Barker

From the detective thriller Code 7, Victim 5, lensed in South Africa


Last of the Renegades (1964)


Lex Barker

Barker as Old Shatterhand in Last of the Renegades


A Place Called Glory (1965)


Lex Barker

From the German western A Place Called Glory


later years

In the late 1960s, Barker cooled his European film career and moved back to the US. He decided to rebuild his acting career in the States by taking roles on television, where he made a number of guest appearances on popular series, such as It Takes a Thief with Robert Wagner and Rod Serling's Night Gallery. Tragically, Barker died suddenly of an apparent heart attack on the streets of Manhattan on May 11, 1973, at the age of 54. He was survived by his estranged fifth wife, a daughter, and two sons.

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filmography

FILM
Aoom (1970) with Fernando Rey
Wenn du bei mir bist (1970)
In the Valley of Death (1968) with Pierre Brice, Karin Dor, and Rik Battaglia
The Torture Chamber Of Dr. Sadism (1967) with Karin Dor and Christopher Lee
Spy Today, Die Tomorrow (1967) with Brad Harris
Woman Times Seven (1967) with Alan Arkin, Shirley MacLaine, and Rossano Brazzi
Who Killed Johnny Ringo? (1966) with Marianne Koch
Killer's Carnival (1966) with Klaus Kinski, Pierre Brice, Stewart Granger, Karin Dor, and Margaret Lee
Winnetou und das Halbblut Apanatschi (1966) with Pierre Brice
Fury of the Sabers (1965) with Ralf Wolter
The Wild Men of Kurdistan (1965) with Ralf Wolter
A Place Called Glory (1965) with Pierre Brice and Marianne Koch
Treasure of the Aztecs (1965) with Rik Battaglia and Jeff Corey
Pyramid of the Sun God (1965) with Rik Battaglia and Ralf Wolter
Twenty-Four Hours to Kill (1965) with Mickey Rooney and Walter Slezak
Winnetou: The Desperado Trail (1965) with Pierre Brice, Rik Battaglia, and Ralf Wolter
The Shoot (1964) with Rik Battaglia and Ralf Wolter
Victim Five (1964) with Ronald Fraser
Last of the Renegades (1964) with Pierre Brice, Terence Hill, Karin Dor, and Anthony Steel
Apaches' Last Battle (1964) with Guy Madison
Breakfast in Bed (1963)
The Executioner of Venice (1963) with Guy Madison and Raf Baldassarre
Il Mistero del tempio indiano (1963) with Senta Berger and Claudine Auger
The Scarlet Eye (1963)
Winnetou I (1963) with Pierre Brice
Der Schatz im Silbersee (1962)
Frauenarzt Dr. Sibelius (1962)
The Invisible Dr. Mabuse (1962) with Karin Dor
El Secreto de los hombres azules (1961)
The Return of Dr. Mabuse (1961) with Gert Frobe and Daliah Lavi
Marco Polo (1961)
Il Segreto dello sparviero nero (1961)
La Dolce vita (1960)
Il Cavaliere dei cento volti (1960)
I Pirati della costa (1960)
Capitan Fuoco (1959)
Mission in Morocco (1959)
La Scimitarra del Saraceno (1959)
Terrore della maschera rossa (1959)
Il Figlio del corsaro rosso (1958)
Strange Awakening (1958) with Carole Mathews and Lisa Gastoni
The Deerslayer (1958) with Forrest Tucker, Cathy O'Donnell, and Rita Moreno
The Girl in Black Stockings (1957) with Mamie Van Doren, Marie Windsor, Anne Bancroft, and Stuart Whitman
War Drums (1957) with Joan Taylor and Stuart Whitman
The Girl in the Kremlin (1957) with Zsa Zsa Gabor
Jungle Heat (1957) with Mari Blanchard, Rhodes Reason, and Glenn Langan
Away All Boats (1956) with Jeff Chandler, George Nader, Julie Adams, Grant Williams, and Keith Andes
The Price of Fear (1956) with Merle Oberon, Charles Drake, Gia Scala, and Warren Stevens
Duel on the Mississippi (1955) with Warren Stevens, Patricia Medina, and Craig Stevens
The Man from Bitter Ridge (1955) with Mara Corday, Myron Healey, and Warren Stevens
The Yellow Mountain (1954) with Howard Duff and Mala Powers
Tarzan and the She-Devil (1953) with Raymond Burr, Monique van Vooren, and Tom Conway
Thunder Over the Plains (1953) with Randolph Scott and Phyllis Kirk
Battles of Chief Pontiac (1952) with Lon Chaney Jr.
Tarzan's Savage Fury (1952) with Dorothy Hart
Tarzan's Peril (1951) with George Macready and Dorothy Dandridge
Tarzan and the Slave Girl (1950) with Vanessa Brown, Denise Darcel, and Robert Alda
Tarzan's Magic Fountain (1949) with Albert Dekker, Brenda Joyce, Evelyn Ankers, and Charles Drake
Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948) with Cary Grant
Return of the Bad Men (1948) with Randolph Scott, Robert Ryan, and Tom Tyler
The Velvet Touch (1948) with Rosalind Russell and Sydney Greenstreet
Crossfire (1947) with Robert Mitchum, Robert Young, Robert Ryan, and Gloria Grahame
Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome (1947) with Boris Karloff and Ralph Byrd
The Farmer's Daughter (1947) with Loretta Young and Joseph Cotten
Under the Tonto Rim (1947) with Tim Holt, Nan Leslie, and Robert Clarke
Do You Love Me (1946) with Maureen O'Hara and Dick Haymes
Doll Face (1945) with Vivian Blaine, Dennis O'Keefe, and Carmen Miranda

TELEVISION APPEARANCES
Night Gallery, episode The Waiting Room, originally aired January 26, 1972. This is another western role for Barker, with costars Buddy Ebsen, Steve Forrest, Jim Davis, and Gilbert Roland
The FBI, episode Three Way Split, originally aired March 21, 1971
It Takes a Thief, episode The King of Thieves, originally aired November 20, 1969
Studio 57, episode The Old Lady's Tears, originally aired May 13, 1956
Lux Video Theatre, episode The Hired Wife, originally aired February 23, 1956

lex barker links

Lex Barker
Visit this site for biographical information and photos of Lex Barker.

In Memoriam: Lex Barker
This is a terrific site entirely devoted to Lex Barker; look for an extensive gallery, filmography, and biographical information.

lex barker film now showing

Watch Lex Barker's 1952 film Battles of Chief Pontiac
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This page premiered April 15, 1999.