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Star of Republic Films, Radio Soap Opera Was 102

Star of Republic Films, Radio Soap Opera Was 102

Barbra Fuller, who starred as the daughter Claudia on the long-running radio soap opera One Man’s Family, all while appearing in films for Republic Pictures and such TV shows as Adventures of Superman, has died. She was 102.

Fuller, who lived in the Los Angeles area, died Wednesday, her godson J.P. Sloane announced.

On the San Francisco-set One Man’s Family, created by Carlton E. Morse, Fuller played one of the Barbour family’s five kids from 1945 until the NBC Radio drama completed its 27-year run in 1959. Her character, a twin with kids of her own, was gone from the program for a couple of years before she came aboard.

“It was a fun part. Claudia was a good girl with interesting qualities,” she said in Michael G. Fitzgerald and Boyd Magers’ 2006 book, Ladies of the Western.

In 1949, Fuller signed with Republic and was under contract with the B-picture studio for a year, during which she was busy making 13 movies, starting with the anti-communism noir The Red Menace (1949).

She followed with such other films as Flame of Youth and Alias the Champ (featuring the wrestler Gorgeous George), both released in 1949, and The Savage Horde, Lonely Heart Bandits, Tarnished (also starring Jimmy Lydon), Women From Headquarters and Harbor of Missing Men, all those hitting theaters in 1950.

On the first-season Adventures of Superman episode “Crime Wave,” which premiered in February 1953, Fuller portrayed a woman working for “Public Enemy No. 1,” a mysterious criminal waging war against the good citizens of Metropolis.

Tasked with uncovering the Man of Steel’s friends at the Daily Planet, her character films Clark Kent running into an alleyway and then Superman running out seconds later, but somehow the crooks don’t put two and two together.

From left: Jimmy Lydon, Barbra Fuller and Arthur Franz in 1950’s ‘Tarnished.’

Courtesy Everett Collection

Barbara Deane Fuller was born in July 1921 in Nahant, Massachusetts. After her father died when she was 3, she and her mother lived in St. Petersburg, Florida, and then moved to Chicago.

Her mom worked at a radio station in the Windy City, and that got her a part opposite George Gobel on a kids program. Fuller followed with lots of roles in soap operas, but when she found herself falling for one of her leading men — he was married and his wife was pregnant — she quit in 1942 and moved to New York.

Three years later, she relocated to California and with a recommendation from future Oscar-winning actress Mercedes McCambridge landed the part of Claudia.

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Somewhere along the way, Fuller tweaked how she spelled her first name. “I did the Barbra spelling as an attention-getter — before Streisand,” she noted.

She appeared alongside Robert Rockwell — perhaps best known for his turn as biology teacher Philip Boynton on the CBS comedy Our Miss Brooks — in six movies at Republic.

Her film résumé also included City of Bad Men (1953), starring Jeanne Crain and Dale Robertson, and The Roommates (1973).

Fuller starred alongside Charles Boyer on 1955-56 installments of the CBS anthology series Four Star Playhouse, and she appeared on a 1958 episode of the CBS series Trackdown that served as the pilot for another Western from Four Star Television, the Steve McQueen-starring Wanted: Dead or Alive.

She also showed up on installments of Ford Television Theater, State Trooper, The Millionaire, My Three Sons, U.S. Marshal, Perry Mason, Lassie and Daniel Boone.

Fuller married Lash LaRue, a star of low-budget Westerns, in February 1951 in Yuma, Arizona, but they were separated by November and divorced by the following June. She was one of his many wives.

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