A curvaceous, dark-haired WWII pin-up beauty (aka “The Woo Woo Girl” and “The Girl with the Million Dollar Figure”), “B” film star Lynn Bari had the requisite looks and talent but few of the lucky breaks needed to penetrate the “A” rankings during her extensive Hollywood career. Nevertheless, some worthy performances of hers stand out in late-night viewings.
She was born with the elite-sounding name of Margaret Schuyler Fisher on December 18, 1913 (various sources also list 1915, 1917 and 1919), in Roanoke, Virginia. She and her younger brother, John, moved with their mother to Boston following the death of their father in 1926. Her mother remarried, this time to a minister, and the family relocated once again when her stepfather was assigned a ministry in California (the Institute of Religious Science in Los Angeles).
Paying her dues for years as a snappy bit-part chorine secretary, party girl and/or glorified extra while being groomed as a starlet under contract to MGM and Fox, her first released film was the MGM comedy Meet the Baron (1933), in which she provided typical window dressing as a collegiate. For the next few years there was little growth at either studio, as she was usually standing amidst others in crowd scenes and looking excited. Finally in Amour d’espionne (1937), she received her first billing on screen for a minor part as “Miss Fenwick”. Though more bit parts were to dribble in, the year 1938 proved to be her breakthrough year. She finally gained some ground playing the “other woman” role in glossy soaps and musicals, first giving Barbara Stanwyck some trouble in Adieu pour toujours (1938).
Fox Studios finally handed her some smart co-leads and top supports in such second-tier films as Return of the Cisco Kid (1939), Pack Up Your Troubles (1939), Hôtel pour femmes(1939), and Hollywood Cavalcade (1939). Anxiously waiting for “the big one”, she made do with her strong looks, tending toward unsympathetic parts. She enjoyed the attention she received playing disparaging society ladies, divas, villainesses, and even a strong-willed prairie flower in such films as Pier 13 (1940), Earthbound (1940), Kit Carson (1940), and Tu seras mon mari (1941), but they did little to advance her in the ranks.
The very best role of her frisky career came with the grade “A” comedy The Magnificent Dope (1942), in which she shared top billing with Henry Fonda and Don Ameche. But good roles were hard to find in Lynn’s case, and she good-naturedly took whatever was given her. Other above-average movies (she appeared in well over 150) of this period came withLa pagode en flammes (1942), Hello Frisco, Hello (1943), The Bridge of San Luis Rey(1944), and Nocturne (1946).
With diminishing offers for film parts by the 1950s, she started leaning heavily towards stage and TV work. She continued her career until the late ’60s and then retired. Her last work included the film The Young Runaways (1968) and TV episodes of “The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.” and “The F.B.I.” Divorced three times in all, husband #2 was volatile manager/producer Sidney Luft, better known as Judy Garland‘s hubby years later, who was the father of her only child.
Her third husband was a doctor/psychiatrist, and she worked as his nurse for quite some time. They divorced in 1972. Plagued by arthritis in later years, Bari passed away from heart problems on November 20, 1989. Although she may have been labeled a “B” leading lady, she definitely was in the “A” ranks when it came to class and beauty.
– IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh