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From Child Star to SAG President, Barry Gordon’s Journey in the Spotlight Leads to Musical Theatre

Pasadena resident and former SAG president to share passion for musical theater

Published on Sunday, May 19, 2024 | 5:28 am

In a life that has spanned child stardom, Hollywood success, and a foray into politics, Barry Gordon has worn many hats (and costumes). 

Wednesday, May 22, the Pasadena resident can add another to the list: musical theater advocate. Gordon, perhaps best known as the original voice of Donatello and Bebop in the iconic “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” franchise, will be the featured speaker at the open-to-the-public Rotary Club of Pasadena’s weekly meeting. 

Titled “Why I Love Musical Theatre,” his presentation promises glimpses into the lifelong passion that has fueled a multifaceted career.

Gordon’s artistic journey began at an incredibly young age. By the age of 3, he was already performing, scoring a second-place finish on “Ted Mack’s Amateur Hour” by singing Johnnie Ray’s “Cry.” At 6, he became the youngest performer to have a hit on the Billboard Top 100. This early success paved the way for a flourishing career as a child actor. He graced the screens of television and film, even earning a Tony nomination for his role in Herb Gardner’s Broadway play “A Thousand Clowns.”

Gordon’s adult career encompassed a steady stream of television appearances in shows like “Archie Bunker’s Place” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” He served a historic term as president of the Screen Actors Guild from 1988 to 1995, the longest tenure in the organization’s history. In a surprising turn of events, Gordon returned to academia in his mid-30s, graduating summa cum laude from California State University, Los Angeles, with a degree in political science. He later obtained his J.D. from Loyola Law School and even mounted an unsuccessful congressional bid in 1998.

Since then, Gordon has lent his talents to radio and academia, teaching courses in politics and media at Cal State LA. He remains deeply involved in the performing arts, serving as vice chair of the Board at Pasadena’s Parson’s Nose Theater and actively participating in the theater’s productions. Mary Chalon, co-founder and Board chair of Parson’s Nose Theater, will introduce Gordon at the Rotary Club event.

The Rotary Club meeting will be held at the University Club of Pasadena on Wednesday, May 22, at noon. Lunch is included in the $45 fee for non-members. Those interested in attending can RSVP by emailing or calling (626) 683-8243 by 4 p.m. on Monday, May 20. 

The event will also be accessible via Zoom, with the meeting opening at 12:15 p.m. To attend via Zoom, go to: The meeting ID is 865 1510 1523, and the passcode is 667356.

Overflow parking is available at Pasadena Heritage Blinn House, with entry off Madison Ave. Attendees are advised asked to park in any reserved parking space.

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