Whiting was born on May 19, 1931 in Los
Angeles to Eleanor and Richard A. Whiting.
She was welcomed into the world by her seven-year
old sister, Margaret.
Because of her father's role as one of
Hollywood's greatest composers, Barbara
grew up surrounded by the elite of the industry.
When she was just six-and-a-half years old,
her father, passed away. By the time she
was ten, her sister was making waves in
the recording industry with songs such as
That Ole Black Magic and their father's
composition My Ideal.
Quite by accident at the age of fourteen,
Barbara was discovered by the director George
Seaton, who was writing the script for Junior
Miss. He was visiting some friends in
Westwood one evening, where Barbara was
hanging out with her girlfriends listening
to "jive records." She had no
idea who Mr. Seaton was, and in the spirit
of having a good time with her friends,
she slapped him on the back and said, "Hi
Jackson, how about this dance?" Seaton
decided then and there she was a natural
for the role of "Fluffy" in Junior
Miss. Her performance led to her contract
with 20th Century Fox. One reviewer stated
that she's got "personality and is
determined to survive in the motion picture
Her second movie was directed by famed
director Otto Preminger. At the age of just
14, Barbara seemed to have a ready answer
for everything. Once when Preminger was
complimenting her for a stellar bit of work
he enthused, "You were very good. In
fact, I think you're a very precocious child."
Barbara replied, "Uh, uh. Nothing like
that. I'm just advanced, that's all."
On another occasion on the set Preminger
called Barbara from the trailer where she
attending school to prepare for a scene.
She arrived still reading her geometry book.
He commented that she must really like geometry.
Barbara replied, "Yes. It's just like
the movies - one darned triangle after another."
This quick wit was something she maintained
throughout her life and brought great joy
to those around her.
When Junior Miss moved to the
radio in 1952, Barbara continued as part
of the cast until it ended in 1954, but
this time in the role of Judy Graves.
the course of her movie career she would
appear in nine additional films:
- Centennial Summer;
- Home, Sweet Homicide;
- Carnival in Costa Rica
with Dick Haymes and Vera Ellen;
- City Across the River;
- I Can Get It for You Wholesale;
- Beware, My Lovely;
- Rainbow 'Round My Shoulder;
- Dangerous When Wet with Esther Williams;
- Paris Follies with her sister
It was prior to that last movie that
Barbara showed evidence of her kind and
generous spirit which were a staple of her
personality. When her sister Margaret was
opening at the Thunderbird in Las Vegas,
Barbara chartered a bus to take thirty of
their friends from Hollywood to Las Vegas
to see the show.
In between her film roles, Barbara also
starred on stage and on television, most
notably in the 1955 summer replacement series
for I Love Lucy. She and her sister
Margaret played themselves in the sitcom
Those Whiting Girls produced
by Desilu Studios for CBS. Desi and Lucy
saw the sisters on Ed Sullivan's Toast
of the Town and conceived the idea for
the show. It was during
the run of this series that Barbara received
her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
In 1959, Barbara married Gail Smith,
the General Director of Advertising and
Merchandising at General Motors. They moved
to Detroit where she settled into a quiet
life that revolved around their son, Richard
Whiting Smith, her extended family, charities
and her church.
After a devastating battle with cancer,
Barbara passed away on June 9, 2004 in Pontiac,
Michigan at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital where
she had been a longtime volunteer and patron.
She is survived by her son Richard, and
her granddaughter Naomi.