Veteran character actor Harry Carey Jr., who appeared in numerous TV shows and movies including nine of director John Ford’s classic Hollywood Westerns, died December 27 at age 91 in Santa Barbara, Reuters reported. A frequent supporting player or sidekick in John Wayne films, including Ford’s 1948 outlaw film 3 Godfathers and 1949 western She Wore a Yellow Ribbon. In all, he made 11 movies with Wayne. In a career that encompassed more than 90 movies, others directed directed by Ford include The Searchers (1956), Wagon Master (1950) and Rio Grande (1950). Carey was born in 1921, the son of silent film star Harry Carey and his actress wife, Olive. Carey grew up on his parents’ cattle and horse ranch in the Santa Clarita Valley. The family’s ties to Ford dated to the director’s earliest Westerns — Carey’s father appeared in some of Ford’s silent films in 1917. During World War II the younger Carey worked with Ford on training and propaganda films for the U.S. military. He joined his father as a regular performer in the John Ford Stock Company. Carey Jr. was reported to be the last surviving member.
The actor’s first feature film with Ford, 3 Godfathers, featured Carey, Wayne and Mexican-born actor Pedro Armendariz as cattle rustlers and bank robbers who care for an orphaned baby boy. Carey’s father starred in Ford’s original 1919 version. Carey’s initial movie association with Wayne was Howard Hawks’ classic Red River, which also starred the elder Carey, but they had no scenes together. Carey also frequently appeared in character roles in TV westerns including Bonanza, Gunsmoke and Wagon Train in the 1960s and 1970s. In the 1950s, he appeared in a recurring role in a series of shorts on The Mickey Mouse Club, “The Adventures of Spin and Marty”. Among Carey’s last screen appearances were his turn in a saloon scene in 1990’s Back to the Future Part III. He also played a U.S. marshal in the 1993 film Tombstone and a supporting role in the 1997 TV movie Last Stand at Saber River. The Carey family ranch is now a Los Angeles County historic park called Tesoro Adobe.