Harry Carey: Western Movie Veteran Dies At 91

Harry Carey: Western Movie Veteran Dies At 91

Character actor Harry Carey Jr, who appeared in nine of Hollywood director John Ford's classic Westerns, has died at the age of 91.

He died peacefully of natural causes in the seaside town of Santa Barbara, California, surrounded by family members, said his daughter, Melinda Carey.

"No cancer or nothing, he just got old. He went out as gracefully as he came in," she said of her father, who is survived by his wife of 68 years, Marilyn, and three adult children.

Carey made 11 movies alongside Ford's favourite leading man, John Wayne, and had scores of other films and television shows to his credit.

His career spanned more than 50 years and included such Ford classics as She Wore A Yellow Ribbon, The Searchers and The Long Gray Line.

He began his association with Wayne in another 1948 release, Howard Hawks' Red River, which also starred his father, silent movie star Harry Carey.

While he lacked Wayne's leading-man stature, Carey Jr's boyish looks and horse-riding skills kept him in demand.

He and fellow character actor Ben Johnson famously learned to stand simultaneously on two galloping horses - a trick known as Roman riding - for the 1950 film Rio Grande.

Among his last screen appearances were his turn as a US marshal in the 1993 film Tombstone alongside Val Kilmer and Kurt Russell, and a supporting role in the 1997 TV movie Last Stand At Saber River, which starred Tom Selleck.

In addition to a movie career that encompassed more than 90 films, Carey was a fixture on television during an era when Westerns proliferated on the small screen.

He popped up in various character roles on such prime-time hits as Bonanza, Gunsmoke and Wagon Train in the 1960s and 1970s.

Later in life, he appeared in the movies Gremlins and Back To The Future Part III.

His memoir, Company Of Heroes: My Life As An Actor In The John Ford Stock Company, was published in 1994.

In it he wrote: "My journey has been that of a character actor.

"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."

Carey was born in 1921 on his family's 1,000-acre ranch, which has now been turned into a Los Angeles County historic park called Tesoro Adobe.

He graduated from Hollywood's Black-Foxe Military Institute and during the Second World War he served in the Navy and worked with Ford on propaganda films for the US military.