Until the age of 20, Barry Foster worked as a plastics chemist before embarking on a career in acting and winning a place at the prestigious London drama school - the Central School of Speech and Drama in 1947. Whilst at Central he became friends with the playwright Harold Pinter; he would go on to appear in two of Pinter's plays, The Basement and The Tea Party. Foster's professional stage debut came in 1952 as 'Lorenzo' in The Merchant of Venice, with his first film role in 1956 in the war film Battle of the River Plate.
Although he played in a wide variety of film and television roles, including David Lean's epic Ryan's Daughter, Battle of Britain, Joseph Losey's King and Country, he will probably be remembered for two roles - one on television asthe cynical Dutch detective Van der Valk and the other on film as Bob Rusk, the necktie murderer in Alfred Hitchcock's Frenzy
He married the actress and singer Judith Shergold in 1955 and they remained together for nearly 50 years until his death in 2002; they had two daughters and one son.