Carmelo Barbera was born in New York. His father, Salvatore Barbera, an Italian shoe maker, arrived on a ship from Naples in 1893. According to an article in the Cumberland Sunday Times on October 7, 1951, Carmelo Barbera graduated from the Cooper Union Institute of Arts and Science in New York. According to the 1920 Census, Carmelo lived in New York working as a clay molder. According to the 1930 Census he lived at 1007 North Harper Avenue in Beverly Hills. In 1933 he still lived in Beverly Hills and taught sculpture at the Los Angeles Evening High School. A September 15, 1951 photograph of him preserved in the Baltimore Sun newspaper archive shows him sculpting a female figure with wings. The press release with the photograph states that he worked for the Consolidated-Vultee Aircraft Corp in San Diego, making plaster models for airplane sections and developing safety ideas for the plant. The 1951 Cumberland Sunday Times article states that Barbera had sculpted church ornaments in Salt Lake City, the decorative parts of theaters in Houston and Fort Worth, Texas, and had also worked on movie sets in Hollywood. He is buried at the San Fernando Mission Cemetery.