Maurice of Northern Exposure
"A leading man is almost always trapped in an image, but a character actor is too. There was a time in my career when I turned down any part whose first name was Sheriff. I've been very lucky in my career, because when I would start to get typecast, I'd be able to break out of it." Barry Corbin
Having worked steadily on stage, screen and television since the mid '70s, Barry Corbin garnered recognition as Maurice Minnifield, a patriotic ex-astronaut and millionaire entrepreneur, on CBS' quirky, surreal, character-driven dramatic comedy television series "Northern Exposure" (1990-1995), and as Whitey Durham, coach to the famous high school basketball team "The Tree Hill Ravens" on The WB/CW teen drama series "One Tree Hill" (2003-Present).
The burly, beady-eyed character player with a stocky build and big voice is noted for his portrayals of cops, soldiers and father figures. He began his feature-film career in 1980 by appearing in that years' popular films ''Any Which Way You Can,'' ''Stir Crazy,'' and ''Urban Cowboy.'' He has since acted in the films "Six Pack" (1982), "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" (1982), "WarGames" (1983), "My Science Project" (1985), "Nothing in Common" (1986), "Who's Harry Crumb?" (1989), "The Hot Spot" (1990), "Timequest" (2002), "The Dukes of Hazzard" (2005), "No Country for Old Men" (2007) and "In the Valley of Elah" (2007).
"Westerns are my first love. Unfortunately, there aren't enough being done to make a living doing them." Barry Corbin
Corbin has appeared in the TV series "The Closer," "M*A*S*H," "Reba" and "Dallas," as well as in the miniseries "The Thorn Birds" (1983) and "Lonesome Dove" (1989). He was also involved in a number of interactive video games, including "The Pandora Directive" (1996), "Steven Spielberg's Directors Chair" (1996), "Red Alert: Retaliation" (1998), "Red Alert 2" (2000) and "Command & Conquer: Yuri's Revenge" (2001).
The 5' 11" Texas native has been married twice and has three sons and one daughter. He was inducted into the West Texas Walk of Fame in Lubbock in 1985 and has been honored with lifetime achievement awards and praise.
"That I'm scary, I'm mean, or that I'm dangerous in some way. I think that's the biggest (misconception). And I have no idea where that comes from. I've played some dangerous people, but there are, you know, there are people who are very afraid of me when they meet me. I don't know why." Barry Corbin
Childhood and Family:
In Lamesa, Texas, Leonard Barrie Corbin was born on October 16, 1940. His father, Kilmer Blaine Corbin (1919-1993), was a successful lawyer who graduated from Texas Tech University and the University of Texas Law School. Barry's mother, Alma LaMerle Corbin (1918-1994), was an elementary-school teacher. The eldest of three children, Barry has two younger siblings, brother Blaine and sister Jane.
"My father passed away in 1993. He had retired some years before that but he practiced law in Lubbock. He was also the youngest State Senator at the time he entered the Senate at 26. He was there for 2 terms but was beat by Preston Smith and never ran again." Barry Corbin
Barry attended Monterey High School in Lubbock, where he appeared regularly in school plays and musicals. After serving in the United States Marines, he studied theater at Texas Tech University, in Lubbock, Texas (1959-1964). After graduation, he enrolled at the University of Colorado, in Boulder, Colorado. At 21, he left the university to join the Marine Corps for two years.
"I never have been much of a one to like regimentation. If I couldn't see a practical application for something, I almost couldn't learn it. Mathematics is very dramatic stuff. I found that out from reading Bertrand Russell, but I didn't know that then." Barry Corbin (on his school years)
Barry was married to and divorced from Elyse Soap (1966-1970) and Susan Berger (May 29, 1976-June 14, 1993). He has three sons: Bernard Weiss Corbin, Christopher Clayton Corbin (born on September 22, 1982; mother, Susan Berger) and James Barry Corbin (born on May 26, 1979; mother, Susan Berger). A daughter (Shannon Katy Ross) that he didn't know he had, found him in 1991. He shares his 15-acre ranch in Fort Worth, Texas, with her when he isn't working.
Just like in most Western films that he acted in, in real life Barry enjoys riding horses on his small Texas ranch every chance he gets. He also volunteered his time to charity rodeos for many years.
"I originally wanted to be the hero, but then, by the time I turned 10, something changed and I can't really explain it. I watched those ‘B’ movie Westerns and realized that Fuzzy Jones, Smiley Burnett and Gabby Hayes had more fun than the heroes. I wanted to be them. I wanted to be Walter Brennan and Ben Johnson. Those guys were my heroes." Barry Corbin
Making his first public performance playing a piano at church at the age of six, Barry Corbin organized neighborhood plays by the age of seven and told his parents he planned to be an actor.
After spending two years in the Marines, Texas-born Corbin began performing in local theater. He then headed to New York where he acted on and off-Broadway in such roles as Jud in "Oklahoma," Henry II in "Beckett," Falstaff in "The Merry Wives of Windsor," and Macbeth in "Macbeth." He also appeared in several musicals, including "Kiss Me Kate" and "My Fair Lady."
Relocating to Los Angeles in 1977, Corbin penned radio plays for the National Public Radio (NPR) for two years. He wrote a number of radio, film and stage scripts and one published play, "Throckmorton, Texas 76083." Meanwhile, he began appearing on television in the recurring role of Sheriff Fenton Washburn (1979-1984) on the hit TV series "Dallas."
In 1980, Corbin's career sky-rocketed when he appeared in the films "Any Which Way You Can," director Buddy Van Horn's action/comedy starring Clint Eastwood and the sequel to the 1978 hit comedy film "Every Which Way But Loose," "Stir Crazy," Sidney Poitier's comedy starring Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor, and "Urban Cowboy," James Bridges' drama starring John Travolta and Debra Winger in which he portrayed Travolta's uncle. He followed it up with roles in actor/director Clint Eastwood's low-key period film set in the Great Depression and based on the novel by Clancy Carlile, "Honkytonk Man" (1982) and John Badham's box office hit suspense film starring Matthew Broderick, "WarGames" (1983), in which he played General Jack Beringer.
Throughout the 1980s, Corbin worked primarily on the small screen and was seen in NBC’s TV movie ''Rage'' (1980). He then starred in the notable miniseries "The Thorn Birds" (1983; starring Richard Chamberlain), the Emmy-winning adaptation of the 1977 best-selling novel by Australian author Colleen McCullough, and "Lonesome Dove" (1989; with Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones).
Recalling his work in the acclaimed miniseries "Lonesome Dove," Corbin said, "LD was one of the high points of my professional career. When I first read the book, I called my agents and told them I had to be in it when, not if, they made the miniseries. I told them I'd play anything just to be a part of the show. Fortunately for me, Simon Wincer, Bill Witliffe and Suzanne De Passe thought I was right for Roscoe. I had about as much fun making LD as I've ever had doing anything and judging from the letters and comments I've had over the past few years, the public agreed. The funny thing is, I only worked on LD for about three weeks, but that's usually the first or second project people ask me about. It just goes to show you, you can't keep a good Western down. The audience loves good old fashioned shoot-'em-ups as we called them when I was a kid."
Meanwhile, Corbin had first TV guest spots on two series in the same week in 1986 in NBC’s "The A-Team" and in the revival of the anthology series "The Twilight Zone." He also starred opposite George Hamilton in the short-lived TV series "Spies" (1987). He was spotted as Davy Crocket's (played by Tim Dunigan) long-lost uncle in a 1988 episode of "The Magical World of Disney" and played an officer in the intriguing made-for-television movie "I Know My First Name Is Steven" (1989). He also had a recurring role in the short-lived and highly regarded CBS sitcom "The Famous Teddy Z" (1989).
From 1990 to 1995, Corbin played the regular role of Maurice Minnifield, a patriotic ex-astronaut and millionaire entrepreneur, on CBS' quirky, surreal, character-driven dramatic comedy television series "Northern Exposure," alongside Rob Morrow. His performance in the show garnered positive reviews and earned two Emmy nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series category.
During his "Northern Exposure" stint, Corbin also played a sheriff in the Dennis Hopper directed romantic drama film based on a book by Charles Williams, "The Hot Spot" (1990; starring Don Johnson, Virginia Madsen and Jennifer Connelly), and played an officer in Bryan Gordon's romantic comedy film "Career Opportunities" (1991; starring Frank Whaley and Jennifer Connelly). He also won a Bronze Wrangler award for his role as Charlie McCloud in the romantic Western TV movie based on Louis L'Amour's novel, "Conagher" (1991; alongside Sam Elliott) and was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Informational Special for his work as narrator in the space program documentary, ''Moon Shot'' (1994).
Following the cancellation of "Northern Exposure" in 1995, Corbin played the regular role of Sheriff C.D. LeBlanc on the USA Network TV series based on the 1987 movie, "The Big Easy" (1996), and guest starred in "Ellen," "Ink," "The Magnificent Seven," "Spin City," the pilot episode of "The Closer," "JAG," "The Drew Carey Show," "The Outer Limits," "Chicken Soup for the Soul" and "Walker, Texas Ranger." His TV movie credits also include "Kiss and Tell" (1996), "My Son Is Innocent" (1996), "Columbo: A Trace of Murder" (1997), "The Hired Heart" (1997), "A Face to Kill for" (1999) and "Sealed with a Kiss" (1999).
On the wide screen, he could be seen in the films "Solo" (1996), "Curdled" (1996), "The Fanatics" (1997), "Judgment Day: The Ellie Nesler Story" (1999) and "Held Up" (1999). He was also involved in a number of interactive video games and was in "The Pandora Directive" (1996) with Tanya Roberts, "Steven Spielberg's Directors Chair" (1996) with Quentin Tarantino, "Red Alert: Retaliation" (1998), "Red Alert 2" (2000), and "Command & Conquer: Yuri's Revenge.”
When asked what it likes to work on a video game, Corbin explained, "It usually takes one long day to do my part in a game. So, as you can see, there are not a whole lot of takes. It is an entirely new technology to me and I have to depend on the director a lot more than I normally do because there are alternate ways to play the game and there are some scenes that must be played very neutral so that you can go in either direction."
Since 2003, Corbin has been playing Whitey Durham, coach to the famous high school basketball team "The Tree Hill Ravens" and also a father figure to most of the players, on The WB/CW teen drama series ''One Tree Hill.'' The show premiered on September 23, 2003, and will begin its fifth season on January 8, 2008.
Meanwhile, Corbin has also worked in a bunch of films, including "Timequest" (2002), "The Dukes of Hazzard" (2005), "No Country for Old Men" (2007), and "In the Valley of Elah" (2007). He is currently busy working on his upcoming films projects, "Lake City," a Southern drama by writers/directors Hunter Hill and Perry Moore and stars Sissy Spacek, "The Hill," a romantic drama by Jeff Stephenson, and "The House of Terror," a horror/thriller in which he will star as the President of Hungary, opposite Talia Shire.
Western Heritage: Bronze Wrangler--Television Feature Film, "Conagher" (TV), 1992