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Harry Carey Jr.

Updated on June 2, 2016
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I'm a fan of classic TV shows and films. My articles focus on the character actors and actress who usually played supporting roles.

Bio Stats

Born: 16 May 1921 (Saugus, California, USA)

Died: 27 December 2012 (Santa Barbara, California, USA)

Cause of Death: Natural causes

Film and TV Appearances: 154+

Award Nominations: 2 (2 Wins)

Years Active: 1946 - 2005

Wagon Master (1950)

as Sandy
as Sandy

Early Life

The son of actor and silent film star Harry Carey (Sr) and his wife Olive Fuller Gordon, Henry George Carey Jr was born in 1921. With red hair that resembled the colour of the adobe bricks that was on the ranch where he was born, he was given the nickname "Dobe" by his father (which family and friends called him for the rest of his life).

Growing up on his father's ranch, he learnt how to speak Navajo (the ranch had employed many Navajo workers) before he could speak English. When he was an infant he made his first screen appearance in one of this father's films and later on made his summer stock stage debut in Maine with his father.

He studied voice as he wanted to be a singer and graduated from the Black-Foxe Military Institute in Hollywood in the late 1930s. Shortly after he enlisted in the Navy where served for six years. During World War 2 he served in the Medical Corps in the South Pacific before getting transferred to the Office of Strategic Services to work with John Ford on propaganda films.

My journey has been that of a character actor.

— Harry Carey Jr

Tribute to his friend, John Wayne

Film

After his discharge from the Navy, Carey had initially planned on two different careers: singing and entering the cattle ranching business. Neither of these worked out and he ended up being cast as Dobey in his debut film, Rolling Home (1946).

Some of the films he appeared in were Moonrise (1948); Copper Canyon (1950); Thunder Across the Pacific (1951); Sweethearts on Parade (1953); Silver Lode (1954); Spin and Marty: The Movie (1955); The River's Edge (1957); Manhunt (1958); Noose for a Gunman (1960); A Public Affair (1962); The Raiders (1963); Shenandoah (1965); The Rare Breed (1966); The Way West (1967); Bandolero! (1968); Death of a Gunfighter (1969); The Moonshine War (1970); Trinity Is STILL My Name! (1971); Man of the East (1972); Cahill (1973); The Return of White Fang (1974); Take a Hard Ride (1975); Nickelodeon (1976); The Long Riders (1980); Endangered Species (1982); Gremlins (1984); Mask (1985); Crossroads (1986); The Whales of August (1987); Illegally Yours (1988); Bad Jim (1990); Tombstone (1993); Wyatt Earp: Return to Tombstone (1994); and The Sunchaser (1996).

Big Jake (1971)

as Pop Dawson
as Pop Dawson

John Ford

Carey's association with John Ford started before he was born. Ford was a friend of his father's (the two had spent the night drinking while waiting for the birth of Harry Jr.) whom he had met during the early days of Universal Studios. He often called Ford "Uncle Jack".

In 1948, after the death of Carey Sr, John Ford out of respect decided to give a Carey a starring role in his film Three Godfathers. It was a role that launched Carey's career proper and was consider by some as his best one.

Other John Ford films Carey appeared in were She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949); Wagon Master (1950); Rio Grande (1950); The Long Gray Line (1955); Mister Roberts (1955); The Searchers (1956); Two Rode Together (1961); and Cheyenne Autumn (1964).

Back to the Future Part III (1990)

as Zeke (Saloon Old Timer #2)
as Zeke (Saloon Old Timer #2)

Television

Carey made his television debut in 1952 in the Chevron Theatre episode "The Bacular Clock".

TV films and mini-series he appeared in were Black Beauty (1978); The Shadow Riders (1982); Princess Daisy (1983); Once Upon a Texas Train (1988); and Last Stand at Saber River (1997).

Some of the TV shows he guest starred on were Racket Squad; Waterfront; Climax!; Matinee Theatre; Broken Arrow; Men Into Space; The Rifleman; Rawhide; Laramie; Ripcord; Have Gun - Will Travel; Lassie; Branded; Wagon Train; Bonanza; Mannix; The Virginian; Gunsmoke; Police Woman; Wild Times; Little House on the Prairie; Dallas; Knight Rider; William Tell; and B.L. Stryker.

Carey also appeared and starred in a number of television productions for Walt Disney...

  • The Adventures of Spin and Marty (1955) as Bill Burnett in six episodes
  • Further Adventures of Spin and Marty (1956) as Bill Burnett
  • The New Adventures of Spin and Marty (1957) as Bill Burnett
  • Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color: "Texas John Slaughter" (1958) as Ben Jenkins; "Ride a Northbound Horse" (1969); "Run, Cougar, Run" (1973) as Barney.

I've worked with the great and the not-so-great. But mostly I've worked with men and women who loved their profession, and who like me, had kids to raise and houses to pay for.

— Harry Carey Jr

During his lifetime, Carey received the following accolades...

  • 1960: Hollywood Walk of Fame for television - located at 6363 Hollywood Blvd.
  • 1987: Golden Boot - Motion Picture and Television Fund Foundation
  • 2003: Silver Spur Award - Reel Cowboys
  • 2003: Inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers of the Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.

In 1944, Carey married Marilyn Frances Fix (the daughter of actor Paul Fix) and they remained married until his death. They had a son and two daughters.

Towards the end of his life, Carey wrote and produced video documentary shorts about working with John Wayne. He also wrote about his life as a John Ford stock company actor in the book "Company of Heroes: My Life as an Actor in the John Ford Stock Company" which was published in 1994.

Harry Carey Jr. died on 27 December 2012 from natural causes. He is buried in Westwood Memorial Park in Los Angeles.

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