Born in New York City, Barrat made his theatrical debut in a stock company in Springfield, Massachusetts. He later acted on Broadway and went into films, acting in some one-hundred and fifty films in a Hollywood career that lasted four decades. He appeared in seven pictures with James Cagney during the 1930s.
He also appeared with the Marx Brothers in Go West (1940).
He played Ingrid Bergman"s father in Joan of Arc (1948), though his role was so brief that when an edited version of the film was released in 1950, Barrat"s role had actually been eliminated. (The film has since been restored to its full length)
He played several other historical characters as well, among them Davy Crockett in Manitoba of Conquest, Zachary Taylor in Distant Drums, Abraham Lincoln in Trailin" West, Cornelius Van Horne in Canadian Pacific and General Douglas MacArthur in American Guerrilla in the Philippines.
He was also seen as the Native American Chief Chingachgook, in the 1936 film version of The Last of the Mohicans. By 1954, he had turned to television roles.
His final acting appearance was in an episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour in 1964.
He died of heart disease in Hollywood in 1970, aged 80, and was buried at Green Hill Cemetery, Martinsburg, West Virginia.