Gene Barry, 90, who played the dapper Bat Masterson in the TV series of the same name, died Wednesday at a rest home in Los Angeles.

He overcame his reluctance to take the starring role when he found out the Western lawman had worn a derby and carried a gold-handled cane in real life. "I went over to the wardrobe department, picked out a brocaded vest, looked in the mirror, and there was this elegant gentleman," Mr. Barry recalled in 1999. "I said: 'Hey, that's Bat! That's me!' "

Mr. Barry played other well-dressed men of action in the television series Burke's Law and The Name of the Game. He essentially played the same character in all three series, which spanned the 1950s to the 1970s. Always fashionably dressed, the tall, handsome actor with the commanding voice dominated his scenes and bested the bad guys.

After two decades as a TV star, Mr. Barry was typecast as a television actor even though he had starred in the science-fiction classic War of the Worlds in 1953 and opposite Clark Gable in Soldier of Fortune in 1955.

But he stayed active with stage appearances and dozens of TV guest appearances. He sang in such musicals as Kismet and Destry Rides Again and created the Broadway role of Georges, the gay nightclub owner in the hit musical La Cage aux Folles. That role brought him a Tony nomination in 1984.

When The Name of the Game ended in 1972, he filmed a syndicated show, The Adventurer, in England.

He was born Eugene Klass in New York City in 1919. He and his wife, Betty, were married for 58 years before her death in 2003. He is survived by sons Frederic and Michael and daughter Elizabeth.

- Associated Press