THOM (GROSS) BARRY
Class of 1976
Farm-raised | Long before he ever dreamt of Hollywood, Thom Barry was a kid growing up on his parents’ farm in Williamsburg, Ohio. He dreaded the summer vacations because that meant working in the corn and soybean fields from sunup to sundown. But life on the farm taught him the value of labor. “I definitely have a work ethic,” he says. “Acting is nothing compared to what I grew up with. It’s like a cakewalk.”
Golden Voice | Williamsburg High School Principal Michael McEvoy—a Xavier alumnus—noticed Barry’s voice, a sonorous baritone even as a teenager. McEvoy taught him how to project, and Barry, a linebacker on the football team, started announcing the school’s theater productions.
California Dreamin’ | After graduating high school in 1969, Barry joined the Air Force and shipped out to a base in South Korea. Three years later, he returned and enrolled at Xavier on the GI Bill. At the behest of theater director Otto Kvapil, Barry auditioned for Molière’s play, “The Doctor in Spite of Himself.” He landed a leading role and went on to act in and direct more Xavier productions. “I had found something that I loved to do,” he says.
Almost an Emmy | Barry’s first acting award, for a minor role in “Bus Stop” at Xavier, still sits on the mantle in his Los Angeles home.
Riding the Radio Waves | Before heading to Hollywood, Barry first took his voice to radio, working as a journalist and disc jockey at WUBE, a country music station in Cincinnati.
Name Game | Born Thom Gross, Barry changed his name to have a better “sense of rhythm and flow” on the radio.
The Big Move | Barry decided to move to Los Angeles looking for radio and voiceover work. “It was between Chicago, New York and L.A.,” he says. “I picked the warm weather.”
The Gamble | “The beautiful thing about this town is there are no guarantees,” he says. “It may never happen, but it may happen tomorrow. You don’t know if you’re going to make it at all.”
Cold Case Veteran | Barry’s best-known role to date was as Det. Will Jeffries in “Cold Case.” He acted in the show for its entire seven-year run before it was taken off the air in May 2010. Barry’s credits also include “The West Wing,” “Independence Day,” “The Fast and the Furious” and dozens of other movies, TV shows and commercials. Now Barry is venturing into film-production.
Ohio Homecoming | Last summer, Barry came back to Ohio with his two teenage sons for a reunion at Williamsburg High School. “You kind of get a little jaded being here in Los Angles, but you forget how big it is to people back home when you’ve arisen to the place called stardom,” he says. It was nice to see faces from his past and to show his boys the lush Ohio River Valley, but Barry doesn’t plan on moving back to the Midwest any time soon. “I’m not that fond of cold weather anymore,” he says.