The delicately beautiful Binnie Barnes displayed a versatility and talent that was equally at home in comedies or dramas. While her heyday was primarily from the 1930s to the mid-50s, younger audience...
Appeared in British vaudeville performing a lasso act; billed as 'Texas Binnie'
Portrayed Russian Empress Catherine the Great in "Shadow of the Eagle"
Moved to the USA
Delivered a fine turn as a golddiging vamp in "Three Smart Girls"
Appeared in support of Nelson Eddy and Jeannette MacDonald in the film adaptation of the Rodgers and Hart musical "I Married an Angel"
Co-starred with Louis Jourdan and Joan Fontaine in "Decameron Nights"
Starred onstage in Noel Coward's "Cavalcade"
Teamed with John Wayne in the Western "In Old California"
Reprised role of Sister Celestine in the sequel "Where Angels Go... Trouble Follows"
Co-starred as Milady De Winter in "The Three Muskateers"
Appeared opposite Randolph Scott in "The Last of the Mohicans"
Played Lady Mere, whose husband sues to end their marriage, in "The Divorce of Lady X"
Last film appearance for more than a decade, "Fire Over Africa"
Final screen appearance as Liv Ullmann's mother in "Forty Carats", produced by Frankovich
Sole producing credit, "Thunderstorm"
Hollywood debut in "There's Always Tomorrow"
Portrayed Lillian Russell in "Diamond Jim"
Supported Abbott and Costello in "The Timeof Their Lives"
Garnered laughs for her turn in the farcical "Up in Mabel's Room"
Returned to films to play Sister Celestine in "The Trouble With Angels", directed by Ida Lupino
Co-starred opposite Charles Laughton in "The Private Life of Henry VIII"
Film acting debut, in first of some 25 short comedies opposite Stanley Lupino
Final screen appearance as Liv Ullmann's mother in "40 Carats", produced by Frankovich
Offered a delightful comic turn in "Three Blind Mice"
Moved to Italy
Had first major feature role in "A Night in Montmartre"
Appeared in "La Strada Buia/Fugitive Lady", produced by second husband M J Frankovich
The delicately beautiful Binnie Barnes displayed a versatility and talent that was equally at home in comedies or dramas. While her heyday was primarily from the 1930s to the mid-50s, younger audiences may recall her as Sister Celestine in the genial romp "The Trouble With Angels" (1966) and its 1968 sequel "Where Angels Go... Trouble Follows" (The former was directed by Ida Lupino, whose father Stanley co-starred in several shorts with Barnes in the late 1920s.)<p> The London-born Barnes worked at various odd jobs including as a milkmaid and nurse before entering show business as a chorus girl. She began to make inroads in British music halls for a lasso act which billed her as 'Texas Binnie'. Starting in 1929, Barnes began appearing in short films before first garnering notice in "A Night in Montmartre" (1931). But it was her turn as Catherine Howard, the sixth and last wife of the monarch, opposite Charles Laughton in "The Private Life of Henry VIII" (1934) that catapulted her to stardom. Before long, Barnes had traveled to Hollywood where she began to appear in leading and supporting roles, often cast as the "other woman" or as wisecracking dames. She offered a delightful turn as Lillian Russell in the biopic "Diamond Jim" (1935) and was the romantic interest for Randolph Scott in "The Last of the Mohicans" (1936). "Three Smart Girls" (1937) cast her as a vampy golddigger who encounters resistance from the daughters of her intended. With Ernest Truex, she provided comic relief in the Gary Cooper vehicle "The Adventures of Marco Polo", was accused of adultery by her husband in the comedy of mistaken identity "The Divorce of Lady X", and played Katharine Hepburn's snooty cousin in "Holiday" (all 1938).<p> Barnes offered a delightful turn as the villainous Milady De Winter in "The Three Musketeers" (1939) and offered strong support to Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald in the otherwise pallid screen version of the Rodgers and Hart musical "I Married an Angel" (1941). She held her own opposite John Wayne in the undistinguished Western "In Old California" (1942) and garnered critical praise for her comic work in "Up in Mabel's Room" (1944). After co-starring with Abbott and Costello in "The Time of Their Lives" (1946) and Eddie Albert in "The Dude Goes West" (1948), Barnes moved to Italy with her second husband producer M J Frankovich. She offered a magnetic turn as Russian Empress Catherine the Great in "Shadow of the Eagle" (1950) but began to find it difficult to land good roles as she aged; after only three more acting roles (and one film as producer, 1956's "Thunderstorm") she retired from the screen.<p> Returning to the USA to live, Barnes came out of her self-imposed "retirement" in the early 60s to make a guest appearance on "The Donna Reed Show". Not long after, Ida Lupino tapped her to play the ear plug-wearing music teacher in "The Trouble With Angels" (1966). Barnes made her final screen appearance as Liv Ullmann's glamorous mother in the light romantic comedy "40 Carats" (1973), produced by Frankovich. In an interview around the time of the film's release, the actress explained that she took the role only because no other British actress offered the part wanted to play a grandmother and because her husband was the film's producer. After Frankovich's death in 1992, Barnes continued to remain active in charity work until her own death in July 1998.
Michelle De Motte
died on November 11, 2000 at age 80
married from 1940 until his death in 1992
British; married in 1932; divorced in 1936
"Frankly, I've never been mad about acting. It just happened to be hte only way I could make a living." --Binnie Barnes in a 1972 interview