Sunday, September 12, 2010

RIP Kevin McCarthy

Kevin McCarthy, the veteran stage and screen actor best known for his starring role as the panicked doctor who tried to warn the world about the alien "pod people" who were taking over in the 1956 science-fiction suspense classic "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," died Saturday September 11th 2010. He was 96. McCarthy died of natural causes at Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis, Mass., said his daughter Lillah.

During a career that spanned more than 70 years, beginning on stage in New York in the late 1930s, McCarthy played Biff Loman opposite Paul Muni's Willy in the 1949 London production of "Death of a Salesman." McCarthy's long career included numerous guest appearances on TV series such as "The Twilight Zone," "Burke's Law," "Flamingo Road" and "Murder, She Wrote." He also appeared in about 50 films, including "An Annapolis Story," "40 Pounds of Trouble," "The Prize," "The Best Man," "Kansas City Bomber," Buffalo Bill and the Indians," "Piranha" and "The Howling." In addition to his many Broadway and other stage credits, McCarthy toured for many years as President Harry Truman in the one-man show "Give 'Em Hell, Harry."

The son of a lawyer and his homemaker wife, McCarthy was born Feb. 15, 1914, in Seattle, Washington. He and his two brothers and sister — Mary McCarthy [1912-1989], who later became an author and wrote the bestselling novel "The Group" — were orphaned when both parents died in the 1918 flu epidemic and were sent to live with relatives.

McCarthy began acting in the 1930s at the University of Minnesota, where, on a dare from a friend, he played a bit part in "Henry IV, Part 1."
"That day, I realized that I could do something," he told the Bangor Daily News in 1997. "I didn't study acting. I didn't even think about it. But evidently I have some innate ability, some talent. It was maybe a gift. In any case, I was in one play after another after that."

After moving to New York, he made his Broadway debut in a small role in " Abe Lincoln in Illinois," starring Raymond Massey, in 1938. As Sgt. Kevin McCarthy during World War II, he appeared in Moss Hart's "Winged Victory," the Broadway play produced by the Army Air Forces.

McCarthy appeared in several Broadway plays in the years immediately after the war, including Maxwell Anderson's short-lived "Truckline Cafe" with Marlon Brando and Karl Malden. He also was a founding member of the Actors Studio.

In addition to his daughter, he is survived by his wife of 31 years, Kate Crane McCarthy; children James Kevin McCarthy, Mary Dabney McCarthy, Tess McCarthy and Patrick McCarthy; stepdaughter Kara Lichtman; and three grandchildren. He was divorced from actress Augusta Dabney [1918-2008], who died in 2008.

Kevin McCarthy appeared as Drake along with Terence Hill, Bud Spencer and Eli Wallach in 1969's “Ace High”.

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