Barry Gordon – “Nuttin’ for Christmas”


Introduction to Barry Gordon

Barry Gordon is an American character actor, voice actor, talk show host and sometime recording artist. He has also served as president of the Screen Actors Guild in the years 1988-1995. Gordon started his career as a child actor when he was three years old. His first single was released when he was seven years old, called “Nuttin’ For Christmas;” it became a Top 10 hit during the holiday season in 1955. As a child actor, he made several appearances on film, play and television such as The Jackie Gleason Show, The Jack Benny Program, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, the play A Thousand Clowns (which earned him a nomination from the Tony Award) and The Girl Can’t Help It, his film debut. As a character actor, Gordon can be also seen in The Spirit Is Willing, Fish, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek Voyager, etc. Gordon is also a political talk show host, appearing on several radio programs in several different radio stations. He appeared on his first Internet-based show Left Talk in 2008. As a political science graduate from the California State University, he has lectured political and media courses at the same university since 2008.

Early life and start in showbusiness

Barry Gordon can be a renaissance man. The veteran character actor, recording artist, talk-show host and lecturer was born in Brookline, Massachusetts on December 21, 1948. His stepfather was singer Bob Manning, who is best remembered for his famous version of Hoagie Carmichael’s “The Nearness of You.”

Gordon started out quite young in show business — he made his TV debut when he was only three years old on Ted Mack’s Amateur Hour, where he won second place by his rendition of Johnny Ray’s “Cry.”

“Nuttin’ for Christmas”

When he was just six or seven years old, Gordon already had a big hit in his hands — it was the holiday favorite “Nuttin’ for Christmas,” written by Sid Tepper and Roy C. Bennett. The novelty song is also alternatively known as “Nothing for Christmas,” and the hit was credited also to Art Mooney and His Orchestra, who provided the music for little Barry Gordon’s singing.

“Nuttin’ for Christmas,” which was released on MGM, peaked at #6 on the Billboard pop chart in December 1955. The flip side of the single was “Santa Claus Just Looks Like Daddy.” “Nuttin’ for Christmas” remains undisputed as the best-selling Christmas recording of all time.

Other recorded songs by Barry Gordon

The following year Gordon achieved another hit with “Rock Around Mother Goose” which was a minor hit on the Hot 100 at #52. It was written by Sid Tepper and Roy Bennett.

His other recorded songs include “Seven,” “I Can’t Whistle,” “The Milkman’s Polka,” “I Like Christmas (I Like It, I Like it),” “Zoomah, the Santa Claus from Mars,” “Yes Sir, That’s My Baby,” and many others.

Acting and voice acting credits

However, Gordon became more of an actor, appearing in films such as The Girl Can’t Help It (1956, his film debut), Summer Playhouse (1964), and The Spirit Is Willing (1967), among a few others. He also appeared in the play A Thousand Clowns, which earned Gordon a Tony Award nomination.

Gordon’s many TV credits include Make Room for Daddy (1956; his TV acting debut), Sally (1957), The Jack Benny Program (1954 to 1961), Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1960), The New Dick Van Dyke Show (1973-1974), Fish (1977-1978), and many others. He has also done a lot of voice-over work mostly for television animated series such as Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle (1976-1979), The Kid Super Power Hour with Shazam! (1981), Smurfs (1981), Pac-Man (1982), and Pole Position (1984). His most notable voice roles being Donatello/Bebop in the TV cartoon series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987).

Gordon as president of Screen Actors Guild, talk show host and lecturer

Gordon became the president of the Screen Actors Guild from 1988 to 1995, becoming the president with the longest term in SAG’s history.

Despite his thriving showbiz career, he still returned to school in his mid-thirties, continuing his studies at the California State University in Los Angeles, graduating with highest honors. He also went on to receive his J.D. degree in Loyola High School.

Gordon has also been hosting talk shows, mostly of political nature, in different formats — radio, public-access television and the Internet. He launched his first Internet radio talk show Left Talk, in 2008. Aside from these commitments, Gordon also has also done lectures on politics and media at his alma mater, California State University in Los Angeles.

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