Roy Barnett, known professionally as Mike Barnett, passed away peacefully May 26th with his family by his side. Born in Oakland, California, March 25, 1927 to Peter and Doris Barnett, Roy attended Oakland High School was active in football, but his main interests were writing, singing and dancing in school plays.
After serving in the Navy, Roy volunteered with the Bill Hayes Group through The Red Cross singing to injured war veterans in various hospitals. He eventually relocated to Hollywood. In 1955 as an usher for CBS, he had an opportunity to sing on the Art Linkletter Show. That led to offers as a singer/dancer in Las Vegas where he was cast in the chorus as well as specialty spots in many shows, backing headliners like Ann Southern. He also toured the country with Bandleader Freddy Martin and sang with Tex Beneke, who popularized the song "I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo" with the Glen Miller Orchestra.
Roy wanted to break out on his own. His wife Elaine came up with the name The Lettermen, for a vocal trio in 1957. The group worked for 13 weeks in comedy writer Sid Kuller's Jewish spoof of the Broadway smash hit "My Fair Lady" and called it 'my Fairfax Lady." They later worked in a second Kuller parody of the movie "Baby Doll," in the same theater. When the last revue closed, and everyone went their separate ways, Roy decided to revise his group so he called upon two solo singers in Hollywood, Dick Stewart and Tony Butala.
The Lettermen in 1958, opened at the Desert Inn in Las Vegas, as a headlining act in a record-breaking revue entitled "Newcomers of 1928" which starred Paul Whitman, Buster Keaton, Rudy Vallee, Harry Richman, Fifi D'orsay and Billy Gilbert. A few months later, Roy left the group to become a lighting director for movies and television. In 1979 he earned an Emmy award for the best lighting for a television special entitled "You Can't Take it With You" starring Art Carney and Jean Stapleton.
Roy had many talents and passions. His skills were superb whether it was designing or building houses. He truly believed in energy conservation and was one of the first in the Oxnard Beach area to install solar panels.
Roy and Elaine loved volunteering with numerous organizations, including the Channel Islands Harbor Maritime Museum and helping with the launch of Ed Hunt Rehab Point. They eventually moved to Camarillo to be closer to family.
After Elaine died, despite a broken heart, Roy still kept his positive attitude, always having a smile on his face. We lovingly called him the energizer bunny because he kept defying death, bouncing back each time, with renewed energy laughing and singing with his friends and staff at Royal Gardens. However, he couldn't keep beating the odds and it became time in spirit to join wife Elaine, daughter Pam, son Jonathan, parents, brother Frank and others.
Left behind to cherish his memories are his daughter Melanie Ehrlich (Jerry), grandsons, Dave Tierney (Toni), Levi Boston, Roy Richard Ehrlich, Brian Ehrlich (Karen) granddaughters Yahna Boston-Malander, Angela Vanover and great grandchildren. Thank you to Dr kumar, Dr. Sonbol, and Fidelity Hospice, for your support and compassion. Royal Gardens staff, for providing care, support and friendship. Zandra for always looking out for him and being like another daughter. Aloha Steak House for VIP treatment on his birthdays. Tony Butala, of The Lettermen, for remaining in Roy's life and making him so proud of your extraordinary success. Milton, for being the best friend he could ever ask for. The music didn't die with him. He's up there singing for eternity. Thanks for being my Dad. We love you now and always. Que Sera Sera
Published in Ventura County Star from June 9 to June 12, 2016