Barbara Perry Dies: ‘The Dick Van Dyke Show’, ‘Baskets’ Actress Was 97

Star of stage and screen Barbara Perry died Sunday. Shutterstock

Stage performer and actress Barbara Perry died Sunday from natural causes in Hollywood. She appeared in several films and TV shows including Samuel Fuller’s Shock Corridor (1963) and The Naked Kiss (1964) as well as The Dick Van Dyke Show and most recently, Baskets as well   She was 97.

Born in Norfolk, Va. on June 22, 1921, Perry was a performer at a young age when she was a member of-of the children’s ballet of the Met’s corps de ballet, making her big stage debut in Madame Butterfly. She went on to study dance — with a specialty in tap — and performed at the Hollywood Bowl in the 1930s. Her talent for dancing was later on showcased at a variety of nightclubs including the Hotel Nacional de Cuba, the Chez Paris in Chicago, the Cocoanut Grove in Los Angeles and the Café de Paris in London. She also had the honor of opening for icons Lena Horne and Peggy Lee.

She first appeared on the big screen in the 1933 film Counsellor at Law starring John Barrymore. Two years later she had a small part in The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

Her stage career brought her to productions on and off Broadway. She was Eddie Foy Jr.’s dance partner in Rumple in 1957. The production starred Gretchen Wyler, Stephen Douglass and a young Elliott Gould. In 1950 she appeared in the Broadway production of Happy as Larry. She went on to study at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London during the mid-’50s and early ’60s. While there she performed in Zip Goes a Million with George Formby, Warde Donovan, and Sara Gregory.

She returned stateside and appeared in popular TV classics including the aforementioned The Dick Van Dyke Show where she played Buddy Sorrell’s wife Pickles. She was later replaced by Joan Shawlee. She also appeared in The Donna Reed Show, The Hathaways, My Three Sons, St. Elsewhere, Newhart and The Andy Griffith Show. Her film credits include Tap (1989), Father of the Bride (1991), Just Write (1997), Mr. Woodcock (2007) and The Back-up Plan (2010). She also wrote and performed the award-winning one-woman show Passionate Ladies.

Perry’s acting career continued through 2017 with appearances in CBS’s How I Met Your Mother as well as FX’s Baskets.

She is survived by her daughter, Laurel Lee, granddaughter Audrey Lee and stepdaughters Karin and Michele. Perry was the widow of  Disney veteran (Dumbo, Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs, Pinnochio) and Animation pioneer Art Babbitt. They were married from 1967 to his passing in 1992.


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