FIND MORE HISTORY of the Harry Carey Ranch in Saugus [here].
Harry Carey Jr. at SCVTV in 2005
Western actor and Saugus native Harry Carey Jr. died Friday at 91. He lived most recently in Santa Barbara with his wife, Marilyn.
Carey, who earned the nickname “Dobe” as a child for the adobe color of his hair, was born May 16, 1921, to Harry Carey Sr. and Olive Carey at their ranch in Saugus, which is now the Tesoro Del Valle housing development.
Dobe Carey’s birthplace is now the Los Angeles County-run Tesoro Adobe Park. He participated in its 2005 dedication and appeared on SCVTV’s “Newsmaker of the Week” program at that time. It can be viewed above.
Some of his biggest film appearances were opposite John Wayne in nine John Ford movies including “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon,” “The Searchers” and “3 Godfathers,” in which he sings.
He appeared in numerous Western television series filmed in Placerita Canyon at Gene Autry’s Melody Ranch and Walt Disney’s Golden Oak Ranch. Fans of more recent Western films might remember Dobe Carey as Marshal Fred White, who gets gunned down in the street in 1993’s “Tombstone” starring Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer.
Publicity photo: Dobe Carey in John Ford’s “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon”
Carey and his younger sister, Ella, nicknamed “Cappy,” attended Newhall School when it was on Lyons Avenue near Newhall Avenue. As children they got to know some of the regular visitors to the Saugus ranch, such as actor William S. Hart, humorist-actor Will Rogers, painter Charles Russell and their parents’ good friend, director John Ford.
Dobe went to high school at Black Foxe Military Institute in Hollywood with the sons of other Hollywood personalities. As a young man he yearned to be a singer. While taking voice lessons in New York City in 1939 he got his first paying job at the New York World’s Fair in the show, “Railroads on Parade” — not as a singer, but as a horseback rider, something he learned to do with great skill on the Saugus ranch.
In 1941 he was hired by NBC as a page boy and then entered in the Navy. He shipped out but was quickly recalled to Washington by John Ford, who was working for the OSS — the predecessor to the CIA. Under Ford’s “direction,” Dobe developed Allied and captured German spy film for the war effort. In 1944, while still in the Navy, Dobe married Marilyn Fix, the daughter of actor Paul Fix. She would remain his lifelong companion and gave him four children.
In 1946, Dobe followed his father into the motion picture business, landing a role in a “B” movie, “Rolling Home.” Next came a featured role in Raoul Walsh’s “Pursued,” and he was on his way. In 1947 he made his first of 11 films with John Wayne, appearing in the Howard Hawks classic, “Red River.” Harry Sr. appeared in the film, as well, although they did not appear on camera together. Senior never saw it; it was released posthumously in 1948.
In that year Ford remade “3 Godfathers,” which he had made in 1919 with Harry Sr. This time Junior shared the lead (and sang) with Duke Wayne and Mexican box-office sensation Pedro Armendariz. It was his first of nine films as a member of the John Ford Stock Company — the others being “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon,” “Wagonmaster,” “Rio Grande” (in which he did some Roman riding, standing on two horses while galloping through Monument Valley), “The Searchers,” “Two Rode Together,” “The Long Gray Line,” “Mister Roberts” and “Cheyenne Autumn.”
Dobe Carey and wife Marilyn, left, return to the old Saugus ranch in 2009 to take questions from friends and fans. (Follow link above to watch the video.) Photo by Stephen K. Peeples.
Harry Carey Jr. appeared in nearly 100 films and hundreds of television episodes, including numerous appearances in the Mickey Mouse Club series “The Adventures of Spin and Marty” (shot on the Walt Disney Co.’s Golden Oak Ranch in Placerita Canyon), “Gunsmoke” (early episodes shot on Gene Autry’s Melody Ranch in Placerita Canyon), “Rawhide” (ditto) and others. He has made two documentaries, “Legends of the American West” and “John Ford’s America” and is the author of the book, “Company of Heroes: My Life As an Actor in the John Ford Stock Company,” available in hard- and softcover editions.
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