Barry Edward McGuire, 93, answered his final curtain call March 7, 2023, surrounded by close friends. Born March 7, 1930 in Caldwell, Ks to Alzura (Eisfelder) and Eugene McGuire, he spent his childhood with grandparents in Blackwell, Oklahoma. He graduated from Arkansas City High School in 1948, and headed to the University of Denver, where he graduated from the School of Acting in 1952.
After a season in Cripple Creek, Colorado, he headed to New York. Within a week he had a part in a Broadway production. He received stellar reviews throughout his acting career for his work on stages from New York to Kennebunkport, to Miami, Chicago, Philadelphia, Indianapolis, Wichita, and Elk Falls, delighting audiences everywhere. After frequent appearances on live television in New York, in 1958 he moved to Hollywood and appeared in motion pictures and television series like Gunsmoke, Perry Mason, and The Real McCoys. An entertainer through and through, Barry has danced with Debbie Reynolds, performed with stars such as Lois Smith, James Arness, Roddy McDowell, Amanda Blake, Barbara Bel Geddes, Raymond Burr, Gregory Peck, Walter Brennan, Shirley Temple, and many others.
His prairie roots called him to Elk Falls, Ks. in 1977 where he planted a garden and settled into “ghost town” life. A gypsy at heart, Barry left Elk Falls a few years later for work with the Indianapolis Repertory Theater. By 1991 he’d returned to Elk Falls. He discovered that the town’s tiny cemetery was the final resting place of abolitionist Prudence Crandall. He “formed himself into a committee” and worked with historians, biographers, and a museum in Connecticut dedicated to Crandall’s 1830s activism, to designate her resting place in Elk Falls as a Kansas historical site.
A whirlwind promoter, he tended his sunken flower gardens in Elk Falls and created a “Path of Wisdom” through an adjacent woodlot lined with literary quotes. His creative brochures attracted international attention. From 1991 to 1994, 30 busloads of tourists came to this humble community of talented artists. When the annual Elk Falls “Outhouse Festival” took hold, his tiny stage drew fans to puppet shows, magic shows, and one-man vaudeville-style entertainment. In 1995, he received the Kansas Governor’s tourism award. Not yet ready to call it quits, he was off again to California, tending his garden in the desert beyond Palm Springs. He returned to Elk Falls in 2010, and from there retired to Winfield where he lived independently until his health declined early this year.
Barry was preceded in death by grandparents Edward and Edith Eisfelder, mother Alzura McGuire, companion Don Fishel, lifelong friend Shirley Clarke, father Eugene McGuire, brother Eugene McGuire, Jr., and feline friends Groucho, Ambrose, and Snoddy among others.
He is survived by loving cousins from Oklahoma to Arizona and Washington, his beloved cat Miss Kitty, his piano tuner and friend Ann Fell and her family, the extended Elk Falls community, and multitudes of friends and fans from coast to coast and around the world.
Memorial contributions for Barry may be made to the Winfield Marquee Theatre and the Cowley County Community College Theatre Program. Donations may be left in the care of the Shelley Family Funeral Home of Winfield.