James Lee Barrett

Screenwriter, Producer, Librettist
This prolific film and TV writer's work often reflected his Southern roots and salt-of-the earth American values. Barrett received his greatest recognition for "Shenandoah", the story of a Virginian family trying to ... Read more »
Born: 11/19/1929 in Charlotte, North Carolina, USA

Filmography

Writer (33)

Our House 1986 - 1988 (TV Show)

Writer

Stagecoach 1985 - 1986 (TV Show)

Screenplay

The Defiant Ones 1985 - 1986 (TV Show)

Screenplay

You Are the Jury 1983 - 1984 (TV Show)

Writer

Belle Starr 1979 - 1980 (TV Show)

Screenplay

Mayflower: The Pilgrim's Adventure 1979 - 1980 (TV Show)

Screenplay

Stubby Pringle's Christmas 1978 - 1979 (TV Show)

Writer

Wild Horse Hank 1979 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Smokey and the Bandit 1977 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Something Big 1971 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Fools' Parade 1970 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

The Cheyenne Social Club 1970 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

The Undefeated 1969 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Tick, Tick, Tick 1969 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Bandolero! 1968 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

The Green Berets 1968 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Shenandoah 1965 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

The Greatest Story Ever Told 1965 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

The Truth About Spring 1964 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

The D.I. 1957 (Movie)

(From Story)

The D.I. 1957 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Angel City (TV Show)

Screenplay

April Morning (TV Show)

Screenplay

Belle Starr (Movie)

(Screenwriter)

Jesse (TV Show)

Screenplay

Kraft Television Theater (TV Show)

Writer

Poker Alice (TV Show)

Screenplay

Ruby Jean and Joe (TV Show)

Screenplay

The Awakening Land (TV Show)

Screenplay

The Day Christ Died (TV Show)

Screenplay

The Quick and the Dead (TV Show)

Screenplay

Vengeance: The Story of Tony Cimo (TV Show)

Screenplay

Warden of Red Rock (TV Show)

Screenplay
Producer (5)

In the Heat of the Night 1987 - 1994 (Tv Show)

Producer

Big John 1983 - 1984 (TV Show)

Producer

Fools' Parade 1970 (Movie)

(Producer)

The Cheyenne Social Club 1970 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

Tick, Tick, Tick 1969 (Movie)

(Producer)
Executive (4)

In the Heat of the Night: A Matter of Justice 1994 - 1995 (TV Show)

Development Executive

In the Heat of the Night: Grow Old Along With Me 1994 - 1995 (TV Show)

Development Executive

In the Heat of the Night: By Duty Bound (TV Show)

Development Executive

In the Heat of the Night: Who Was Geli Bendl? (TV Show)

Development Executive
Actor (1)

Fools' Parade 1970 (Movie)

Sonny Boy (Actor)

Biography

This prolific film and TV writer's work often reflected his Southern roots and salt-of-the earth American values. Barrett received his greatest recognition for "Shenandoah", the story of a Virginian family trying to stay out of the fighting during the Civil War. First presented as a 1965 feature film starring James Stewart, the story provided the basis for a Broadway musical starring John Cullum in 1974. Barrett won a Tony Award for the book of the latter. He began writing after a stint in the Marine Corps, selling his first teleplay, "The Awakening Land", a story of an independent pioneer woman, to producer Stanley Kramer. His first produced screenplay, "The D.I.", starred Jack Webb and focused on Marine basic training. In 1965, besides "Shenendoah," Barrett received credit for scripting "The Greatest Story Ever Told" for director George Stevens in which John Wayne played a Roman centurion supervising the crucifixion of Christ. Wayne subsequently hired Barrett to write the 1968 feature "The Green Berets," a salute to the elite forces in Vietnam. James Stewart again performed Barrett's dialogue in light western "The Cheyenne Social Club" (1970) and Burt Reynolds did the same for the raucous hit "Smokey and the Bandit" (1977).

Although Barrett had some early TV credits, he did not begin working in the medium in earnest until the late 70s. He adapted the short story "Stubby Pringle's Christmas" for NBC in 1978. Also that year, Elizabeth Montgomery starred in the NBC miniseries version of "The Awakening Land," based on the Conrad Richter stories. Montgomery also starred in Barrett's teleplay of "Belle Starr" (CBS, 1980), about the western legend. He wrote the 1986 TV remake of "The Defiant Ones", as well as the story of the Lexington uprising that started the Revolutionary War in "April Morning," a 1988 Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation for CBS.

The 80s also marked Barrett's turning to TV series work. He created the NBC series "Our House," which starred Wilford Brimley as a crusty old man who takes in his widowed daughter-in-law and her three kids despite his cantankerous nature. The series ran from 1986-88 against "60 Minutes" on CBS. In 1988, Barrett wrote the TV-movie pilot for "In the Heat of the Night", adapted from the feature film, which became a long-running vehicle for Carroll O'Connor. But Barrett never got to see it succeed, as he passed away in 1989. Yet, in 1996, Showtime produced his script "Ruby Jean and Joe" starring Tom Selleck as a rodeo rider traveling with an young African American woman.

Relationships

James Hamlin Barrett

Father

Anne Barrett

Mother

Birgitte Barrett

Daughter

Jessica Barrett

Daughter

Penelope Barrett

Daughter

Christian Barrett

Son

David Barrett

Son

Merete Engelstoft

Wife
married in 1960

EDUCATION

Art Students League of New York

New York , New York

Furman University

Greenville , South Carolina

Columbia University

New York , New York

Pennsylvania State University

University Park , Pennsylvania

Milestones

1996

Seven years after Barrett's death, Showtime produced his script, "Ruby Jean and Joe"

1988

Wrote pilot for TV adaptation of "In the Heat of the Night"

1978

First collaboration with Elizabeth Montgomery; wrote NBC miniseries "The Awakening Land" in which she starred

1977

Wrote screenplay for "Smokey and the Bandit"

1968

Wrote "The Green Berets" for John Wayne

1965

Wrote feature film version of "Shenendoah"

1957

First produced screenplay, "The D.I."

1950

Served in the US Marine Corps

Created series "Our House" (NBC)

Wrote book for Broadway musical version of "Shenendoah"

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