Tribute to Barry Newman: The Iconic Star of TV's "Petrocelli" and the "Vanishing Point" Feature Film Who Died at 92

Herbie J Pilato


He was a Broadway actor best known for TV's unique legal/adventure series, Petrocelli (NBC, 1974-1976), a cross between Perry Mason and Mannix. With a legacy as one of the kindest and hardest-working actors in the entertainment industry, Barry Newman, who once studied law in real life, passed away on May 11, 2023. He was 92.

A Closer Look

Barry Foster Newman was born on November 7, 1930, in Boston, Massachusetts, to Sarah and Carl Newman. After graduating from Boston Latin School, the oldest public school in the country, he graduated from Brandeis University with a B.A. in Anthropology. While at Brandeis he met the famed Lee Strasberg, who was teaching a course in theater, which inspired Newman's venture into acting.

Newman went on to appear on Broadway in supporting roles in shows like the musical, What Makes Sammy Run, and Mel Tolin's Maybe Tuesday. He also starred in the New York production of the world's longest-running play, Agatha Christie's The Mouse Trap.

Newman's most famous part was that of the no-nonsense attorney Anthony Petrocelli, which he first portrayed in the 1970 movie, The Lawyer. A Harvard-educated attorney, Petrocelli opened his office in the fabricated town of San Remo, Arizona.

Newman, who was Jewish, returned to the role of Tony Petrocelli, an Italian-American, in the 1974 made-for-TV movie Night Games. That small-screen film led to the Petrocelli TV series, which aired for 44 episodes. Produced by Leonard Katzman (later of TV's Dallas), Petrocelli co-starred Susan Howard (also later of Dallas), as Tony's dedicated wife and assistant, and Albert Salmi as his go-to detective.

Newman starred in over 20 TV-movies including Second Sight: A Love Story, starring Bewitched legend Elizabeth Montgomery, and King Crab, for which he won the ABC Theater Award, and Fantasies, alongside Suzanne Pleshette (with whom he had starred in the early 1990s series Nightingales).

Additionally, Newman appeared in films like Daylight (1996), Bowfinger (1999), and 40 Days and 40 Nights (2002).

In 2009, Newman's career was derailed after he was diagnosed with vocal-cord cancer. But he returned to the screen one final time in the movie, Finding Hannah, which was released in 2022.

Besides Petrocelli, Barry Newman's most famous role was that of the legendary Kowalski in the feature film, Vanishing Point, which premiered in 1971. As Rolling Stone senior film editor David Fear recently noted in a tweet about Newman, he was "...rewatching Barry Newman films (Vanishing Point, Fear Is the Key)'s like producers fused Dustin Hoffman and Steve McQueen into one actor."

The Other Parts of Newman's Life and Career

Barry Newman was the first cousin to media industry multi-billionaire Sumner Redstone and penned the Forewords to the books Petrocelli: An Episode Guide and Much More, and Spotlights & Shadows: The Albert Salmi Story, both by Sandra Grabman, published by BearManor Media.

Newman's father Carl Newman managed the Boston outpost of the nightclub The Latin Quarter, while Barry himself played saxophone and clarinet in the U.S. Army band.


Although Petrocelli lasted only two original seasons on NBC, the show remains popular five decades later in reruns and on DVD, all of which is a testament to Barry Newman's talent, charisma, and likability. He will remain cherished by his countless fans around the world.

[Note: Unless otherwise indicated, certain facts and information in this article were resourced from various entertainment news and media outlets including,,,,, and]

This is original content from NewsBreak’s Creator Program. Join today to publish and share your own content.

Comments / 0

Published by

Herbie J Pilato is the author of several books about pop culture including RETRO ACTIVE TELEVISION, THE 12 BEST SECRETS OF CHRISTMAS, MARY: THE MARY TYLER MOORE STORY, TWITCH UPON A STAR, GLAMOUR, GIDGETS AND THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, DASHING, DARING AND DEBONAIR, and NBC & ME: MY LIFE AS A PAGE IN A BOOK, among others. He's also a TV writer/producer, and has worked for Reelz, Bravo, E!, TLC, and hosted THEN AGAIN WITH HERBIE J PILATO, the hit classic TV talk show (which premiered on Amazon Prime in 2019).

Los Angeles, CA

More from Herbie J Pilato

Comments / 0