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The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture


A Hollywood publicist for several well-known movie stars, Beverly Theron Barnett was born to James and Mabel Barnett in Sweet Springs, Missouri, on September 12, 1911. He was raised in Cushing and Oklahoma City and attended Oklahoma City’s Central High School and Oklahoma Military Academy in Claremore before earning a degree in economics at Oklahoma A and M (now Oklahoma State University).

After college he traveled to Los Angeles, California, and started writing for radio. Barnett became one of two scriptwriters for Jack Benny’s show and then wrote for a series of Western shows whose actors included Gene Autry and John Wayne. In 1938 Republic Studios promoted him to the head of its radio department.

Barnett later began handling publicity for Republic’s stars, including Gene Autry. In Holly George-Warden’s biography of Autry, Public Cowboy No. 1 (2007), Barnett is credited with creating the story that Will Rogers had heard Autry playing guitar and singing while working at his telegraph job in Chelsea, Oklahoma, and advised him to go to New York. When Autry had a disagreement with the studio and parted ways, he took Barnett with him. Barnett soon expanded his clientele to include Eddie Cantor, Oklahoma’s Rochelle Hudson, John Wayne, Harry Carey, Johnny Weissmuller, and others.

After the United States joined the Allies in World War II, Barnett enlisted in the U.S. Navy. On February 14, 1960, he died unexpectedly of a heart attack at age 47. He left behind his second wife, Kathryn, two sons, and two daughters.

Larry O’Dell


“Beverly Barnett, 47, Movie Publicist Dies,” The Los Angeles Times, 15 February 1960.

“Beverly Barnett,” Vertical File, Research Center, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City.

“Former Central Student to Write Serial,” Oklahoma City Times, 2 September 1938.

Holly George-Warren, Public Cowboy No. 1: The Life and Times of Gene Autry (New York: Oxford University Press 2007).


The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Larry O’Dell, “Barnett, Beverly Theron,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry?entry=BA045.

Published September 22, 2023

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