Charles Briles, Rarely Seen Son on 'The Big Valley,' Dies at 70

Courtesy of Photofest
Charles Briles with (from left) Lee Majors, Barbara Stanwyck and Linda Evans on 'The Big Valley.'

He played Eugene Barkley, who went off to college to study medicine, on the first season of the Western that starred Barbara Stanwyck.

Charles Briles, who played the seldom-seen youngest son Eugene Barkley on the 1960s Barbara Stanwyck Western The Big Valley, has died. He was 70.

Jason Briles told The Hollywood Reporter that his father died June 12 in Portland, Ore., during a visit with Jason and his family. The cause of death was congestive heart failure.

Briles also appeared as a college student named Amherst in the 1969 Elvis Presley film The Trouble With Girls and showed up on other TV series like Mr. Novak, Petticoat Junction, Please Don't Eat the Daisies, Green Acres, Mayberry R.F.D. and Bonanza.

On The Big Valley, which aired on ABC from September 1965 to May 1969, Briles portrayed Eugene in eight first-season episodes. The actor received his draft notice after he started work on the series, Jason said, and the producers wrote his character out of the show by having Eugene go off to Berkeley to study medicine.

Briles volunteered for the California National Guard in lieu of serving in Vietnam and was on duty during the 1965 Watts riots in Los Angeles, his son noted.

Stanwyck starred as a widow of a wealthy 19th century California rancher on The Big Valley, and her other children were played by Lee Majors, Peter Breck, Richard Long and Linda Evans.  

Born in Gardena, Calif., Briles performed as a teenager with the Kentwood Players of the Westchester Playhouse in L.A. As an adult, he directed stage productions around Southern California and wrote, produced and helmed industrial films for 24 years with the Northrop Corporation of California.

Briles spent his retirement years in Orcutt, Calif.

He also is survived by his wife Kathy, sister Carolyn, another son Michael and grandchildren Maxwell, Alexandra, Jacoby, Ashlyn, Serenity and Sebastian.


 

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