Albany stringer, Jane Barton, dies at 86

Show biz coverage part of her success story

Jane Barton, Variety’s Albany correspondent for 20 years covering the New York State capital and the state legislature, died April 1 at her longtime home at Windy Hill, Charleston in New York State’s Montgomery County. She was 86.

Barton was hired by late managing editor Bob Landry in 1970, joining an informal network of local correspondents nationwide filing regular entertainment news reports and dispatches to the Weekly.

Before and after World War II, Barton operated her own publicity office in New York City, specializing in public relations for radio artists and producers. The late television host Ed Sullivan, who also penned a three-dot showbiz column in the New York Daily News, wrote that Barton was one of Gotham’s best press agents.

Barton relocated to the Albany area in 1948, when she joined the state’s Department of Commerce as program director of the Radio-TV-Motion Picture Bureau, a post she held for 25 years. She was a charter member of American Women in Radio and Television, serving two terms as the organization’s national board of directors, and was founder-president of the New York State Capital District Chapter.

Born on April 3, 1918, in New York City, she earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism at Gotham’s Hunter College, and her master’s degree in public administration at New York University.

In addition to her show biz-related activities, Barton was the senior female Naval Reserve Officer in the Capital District, having retired as a full Commander following active service in the second World War. Her Navy career began in 1941 as a member of the fourth class of WAVES and the first class to attend boot camp. Over two decades, she was active in the Naval reserves alternating her civilian employment with stints in Navy public affairs and the training of enlisted women.

Barton’s obituary in the Albany Times Union puts her rank, “Commander USNR (R),” immediately after the opening mention of her given name and surname. In addition to her show biz and Navy activities, Barton was involved in a host of local and national organizations including the American Pioneer Broadcaster’s Foundation and the Actor’s Fund of America.

She is survived by two nieces, a nephew, several cousins, a great niece and great nephew. Among Barton’s friends at Variety are former muggs Joe Morella and John Madden; the latter was bequeathed furniture from Barton’s beloved Windy Hill Tree Farm home, her residence since 1957.