Western movie character actor Harry Carey Jr. dies at 91

Alex Dobuzinskis
Reuters Middle East

LOS ANGELES, Dec 28 (Reuters) - Veteran character actor

Harry Carey Jr., who appeared in scores of television shows and

films including nine of famed movie director John Ford's classic

Hollywood Westerns, has died at age 91, his family said on


Carey, a frequent supporting player in films starring John

Wayne, died peacefully of natural causes on Thursday morning 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," she said of her

father, who is survived by his wife of 68 years, Marilyn, and

three adult children.

Carey's more notable big-screen credits included a

co-starring role with John Wayne in Ford's 1948 outlaw film "3

Godfathers," the role of a young calvary officer in Ford's 1949

western "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon," also with Wayne, and a turn

decades later in a saloon scene in the 1990 sci-fi comedy "Back

to the Future Part III."

In all, he made 11 movie appearances with Wayne.

Among other Ford-directed films in which Carey appeared were

"The Searchers" (1956), "Wagon Master" (1950) and "Rio Grande"


In addition to a prodigious movie career that encompassed

more than 90 films, Carey was a fixture on television during an

era when westerns proliferated on the small screen, popping up

in various character roles on such prime-time hits as "Bonanza,"

"Gunsmoke" and "Wagon Train" in the 1960s and 1970s.

In the 1950s, he had a recurring role in "The Adventures of

Spin and Marty," a series of TV shorts that aired as part of

"The Mickey Mouse Club."

Carey was born in 1921, the son of silent film star Harry

Carey and his wife, Olive, who also was an actress.

The young Carey was raised among cattle and horses on his

parents' 1,000-acre (405 hectares) ranch in California's Santa

Clarita Valley, north of Los Angeles, and he earned the nickname

"Dobe" because his hair color was the hue of the ranch's reddish

adobe clay. Even late in life, he went by that nickname.


The family's affiliation with Ford dated back to the

director's earliest westerns, with Carey's father appearing in

some of Ford's silent films in 1917.

During World War Two, the younger Carey worked with Ford on

training and propaganda films for the U.S. military. He went on

to become a regular performer, along with his father, in the

John Ford Stock Company - actors and crew members who Ford used

repeatedly in his films. Carey Jr. was reported to be the last

surviving member of Ford's stock company.

Carey's first feature collaboration with Ford in "3

Godfathers," playing the Abilene Kid, saw Carey, Wayne and

Mexican-born actor Pedro Armendariz co-star as cattle rustlers

and bank robbers who care for an orphaned baby boy while dodging

the law. Carey's father starred in the original 1919 version,

also directed by Ford.

Carey began his association with Wayne in another 1948

release, the classic Howard Hawks Western movie "Red River,"

which also starred the elder Carey, though father and son had no

scenes together.

Among Carey's last screen appearances were his turn as a

U.S. marshal in the 1993 film "Tombstone," which starred Val

Kilmer and Kurt Russell, and a supporting role in the 1997 TV

movie "Last Stand at Saber River," which starred Tom Selleck.

The Carey family ranch, which was visited over the years by

Wayne and fellow actors William S. Hart and Gary Cooper, has

been turned into a Los Angeles County historic park called

Tesoro Adobe.

Laurene Weste, city councilwoman in Santa Clarita, said

Carey Jr. remains a beloved figure in the area where the family

ranch was once so prominent. "He was just a wonderful, loving,

kind, down-to-Earth man," she said.

(Additional reporting by Steve Gorman; Editing by Will Dunham)

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