News Legendary Car Builder George Barris, dead at 89

Discussion in 'The Howard Stern Show' started by HS Cult Leader, Nov 6, 2015.

  1. HS Cult Leader

    HS Cult Leader Elite Member Gold

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    George Barris, creator of TV's original Batmobile, dead at 89
    Published November 05, 2015
    Associated Press

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    This 1966 photo provided by Lozzi Media Services and Barris Kustom Industries shows designer George Barris with the original Batmobile in Los Angeles. (Lozzi Media Services/Barris Kustom Industries via AP)



    LOS ANGELES – George Barris, the legendary custom car builder who created television's original Batmobile and helped define California's car culture with colorfully designed vehicles ranging from the stunningly beautiful to the simply outrageous, died Thursday. He was 89.

    Barris, who had been in declining health, died at his Los Angeles home with his family by his side, said Edward Lozzi, his longtime publicist and friend. No cause of death was given.

    Barris customized cars and buses for TV shows, movies, celebrities and heads of state and was a pioneer in designing small, plastic models of those customized cars. The models popularized his wildly imaginative vehicles all the more when they were assembled by millions of American youngsters in the 1950s, '60s and '70s.

    "He was the man who started the American pastime for Baby Boomers," Lozzi said.

    For decades Barris worked out of a shop in a modest North Hollywood neighborhood, just down the street from Universal Studios. Passers-by would often be startled to see the Batmobile or another stunning vehicle sitting inside the shop and to meet Barris if they strolled in to check it out.

    Barris also worked on The Munster Koach for the 1960s TV show "The Munsters," and "Black Beauty," the car Bruce Lee used in the TV show, "The Green Hornet."

    He also customized cars for numerous well-heeled private collectors, Lozzi said, as well as buses for traveling rock musicians.

    Born in Chicago on Nov. 20, 1925, to Greek immigrants James Salapatas and Fanicia Barakaris, who later Americanized the family name to Barris, George was 3 when he and his older brother, Sam, moved to Roseville, California, to live with their aunt and uncle after their mother died.

    Barris would say years later that they customized their first car as teenagers — a 1925 Buick they were given for helping in the family restaurant. They sold it and used the money to work on another.

    After fully customizing a 1936 Ford in high school, Barris formed the Kustom Car Club. The unusual spelling of "custom," never fully explained, came to be his signature.

    The brothers, meanwhile, moved to Southern California after World War II and began designing cars for private buyers. Their colorful, sometimes outlandish refurbishing of convertibles, coupes, sedans, hot rods, even lowrider cars soon brought them to the attention of Hollywood.

    Their clients came to include Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Burt Reynolds, Sylvester Stallone and numerous other celebrities and studio executives.

    For a brief time in the 1940s, Barris also raced his cars at speedways but gave it up when it took too much time from his customizing work.

    After Sam Barris left the business in the 1950s, George and his wife, Shirley, continued on their own.

    His most famous creations, such as the Ala Kart and the Hirohata Merc, remain instantly recognizable on the car collector circuit to this day.

    The most famous of all, the Batmobile, built from a refurbished 1955 Lincoln Futura, sold at auction two years ago for $4.2 million.

    Barris, meanwhile, remained active until recent months. He and his son, Brett, took part in a signing last summer at a Los Angeles car dealership for their recently published book, "King of the Kustomizers: The Art of George Barris."

    In addition to his son, Barris is survived by his daughter, Joji Barris-Paster, and a grandson. Barris was preceded in death by his wife.

    Funeral arrangements were pending.
     
  2. Joe Bauers

    Joe Bauers Well-Known Member

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    Awww, Bummer, RIP

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  3. HS Cult Leader

    HS Cult Leader Elite Member Gold

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  4. Joe Bauers

    Joe Bauers Well-Known Member

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  5. Joe Bauers

    Joe Bauers Well-Known Member

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  6. HS Cult Leader

    HS Cult Leader Elite Member Gold

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  7. Joe Bauers

    Joe Bauers Well-Known Member

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  8. maroon

    maroon Well-Known Member Banned User

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    god I loved those batman reruns as a kid. that's where batman should have ended. the movies are dumb.
     
  9. Shithead

    Shithead Well-Known Member

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    Brother Sam was the talent....His customs were classics.....George was the face, Sam was the talent

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    And the most famous of them all, the Hirohata Merc...

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  10. potroast

    potroast Well-Known Member

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    He will not be back with more... Stuff.

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  11. Honkey Donkey

    Honkey Donkey Well-Known Member

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    There was a book of his custom cars in the library in my elementary school. You had to get on a list to take it out for a week. When my week came I carried that book around everywhere . I hated having to return it . I loved his work.
     
  12. XXXXX

    XXXXX Well-Known Member

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  13. Fuzz Nuts

    Fuzz Nuts VIP Extreme Gold

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    Great cars. RIP

    Great avatar. Where is that hot chick from?
     
  14. PI Nate

    PI Nate Disenfranchised since 1984... Gold

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  15. Pelicanman

    Pelicanman Engorged Member VIP Gold

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    Wow, Barris did it all: Hosted The Gong Show, designed cars, killed for the CIA.
     
  16. scoobyla

    scoobyla Well-Known Member

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    i marvel at his work



    (first time i ever used that word)
     
  17. MutteringJohn

    MutteringJohn Well-Known Member

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    When I was kid in the sixties growing up I remember buying this Aurora Batmobile kit and assembling it.

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    PI Nate and SalsMasterShake like this.