Barry Atwater served as head of the UCLA Sound Department from 1948 to 1952, where he taught and supervised the recording, mixing and technical aspects of student film making. He soon began acting in all types of legitimate theater in the Los Angeles area and continued to be involved in stage plays for the rest of his life.
He debuted on television in an episode of You Are There in June of 1955, and made over 100 television appearances. He debuted in films with A Time Out Of War (1954) and his feature film appearances include, Nightmare (1956), The Rack (1956), The Hard Man (1957), Pork Chop Hill (1959), Vice Raid (1959), Sweet Bird Of Youth (1962), Captain Newman M.D. (1963), Alvarez Kelly (1966), The Teacher (1974), Win Place Or Steal (1974), The Kid from Not-So-Big (1978), and F.I.S.T. (1978).
He is best remembered for his role as the vampire on the TV movie, The Night Stalker in 1972. He also appeared in diverse roles in such series as, Frontier, Gunsmoke, Bonanza, Perry Mason, Have Gun - Will Travel, Cheyenne, Outer Limits, One Step Beyond, The Rebel, Mr. Lucky, Wagon Train, Night Gallery, Harry O, Kung Fu, Hawaii Five-O, Mannix, Police Story, Cannon, and his last show, The Rockford Files in 1977.
He made seven television movies including Return Of The Gunfighter (1966), The Young Lawyers (1969), Along Came A Spider (1970), Vanished (1971), and The Amazing Howard Hughes (1977). He was also a regular in the soap opera General Hospital from 1964 until 1967. Because of his appearances on Star Trek, Night Gallery, Twilight Zone, and Night Stalker he was a guest several times at the "Famous Monsters Of Filmland" conventions in the mid 70's.
Suffering from terminal cancer, he died of stroke in Los Angeles, California, in 1978 just after his 60th birthday.