Monday, May 16, 2011

Happy 90th Birthday Harry Carey, Jr.

Henry G. ‘Harry’ Carey, Jr. Was born on May 16, 1921 in Saugus, California. The son of actors Harry Carey [1878-1947] and Olive Golden [1896-1988], Harry Carey Jr. never answered to "Harry" or "Junior"; to his friends, family and film buffs, he was always "Dobe" Carey. Raised on his father's California ranch, the younger Carey spent his first six adult years in the Navy. While it is commonly assumed that he made his film debut under the direction of his dad's longtime friend John Ford, Carey in fact was first seen in a fleeting bit in 1946's "Rolling Home", directed by William Berke. It wasn't until his third film, "The Three Godfathers" (1948) (dedicated to the memory of his father) that Carey worked with Ford. Honoring his promise to Harry Sr. that he'd "look after" Dobe, Ford saw to it that the younger Carey was given a starring assignment (along with another of the director's proteges, Ben Johnson), in "Wagonmaster" (1950). Though he handled this assignment nicely, exuding an appealing earnest boyishness, Carey wasn't quite ready for stardom so far as the Hollywood "higher-ups" were concerned, so he settled for supporting roles, mostly in westerns. John Ford continued to use Carey whenever possible; in "The Long Gray Line" (1955), the actor has a few brief scenes as West Point undergraduate Dwight D. Eisenhower. Carey was also featured on the "Spin and Marty" segments of Walt Disney's daily TV series The Mickey Mouse Club (1955-59). In recent years, Carey's weather-beaten face has been seen in choice character assignments in films ranging from "the Whales of August" (1987) to "Back to the Future III (1990); he has often been hired by such John Ford aficionados as Peter Bogdanovich, who cast Carey as an old wrangler named Dobie (what else?) in "Nickelodeon" (1976), and as an ageing bike-gang member named Red in "Mask" (1985). Harry appeared in four Euro-westerns "Trinity is STILL My Name" (1971), "Man of the East" (1972), "Challenge to White Fang" (1974) and "Take a Hard Ride" (1975). In 1994, Harry Carey Jr. published his autobiography, Company of Heroes. - Hal Erickson. Today we celebrate Harry Carey, Jr.’s 90th birthday.

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