His Father Called Him Dobe: Remembering Harry Carey, Jr.

Harry Carey JrHe could be seen frequently alongside John Wayne, and his father nicknamed him Dobe for his red hair that resembled adobe soil. Along with actors Paul Fix, Ward Bond and Mildred Natwick, Harry Carey, Jr. was a staple in John Ford westerns. Following in the footsteps of his character actor dad, Harry Carey, Carey, Jr. usually seemed to play a baby-faced innocent in westerns.

Coming from a veteran acting family, Carey, Jr. appeared with his father in 1948’s Red River and with his mother, Olive Carey, in The Searchers (1956) and Two Rode Together (1961). Three of his first movies starred John Wayne: Red River, 3 Godfathers (1949) and She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949). But Carey, Jr. wasn’t just a character actor in Ford’s films; he was also close friends with the dirtector and with Wayne.

 “I loved Duke and he loved me,” Carey said in an interview with in 2009 for the book Duke, We’re Glad We Knew You. “The thing is, I don’t think he ever forgave me for being the son of Harry Carey. Harry Carey was his absolute hero.”

 Carey, Jr. even married within the John Ford stock company, marrying Paul Fix’s daughter, Marilyn, from 1944 until his death at the age of 91 on Dec. 27, 2012.

 Though Carey, Jr. usually didn’t have a large role, he always added something special to his films, whether it be a comedic moment or an emotional scene.

 Out of all of the John Ford stock players, he was one of my favorites.

“My journey has been that of a character actor,” the New York Times quoted from Carey’s autobiography. “I’ve worked with the great and the not-so-great. But mostly I’ve worked with men and women who loved their profession, and who like me, had kids to raise and houses to pay for.”

 Comet Over Hollywood, named for the 1938 Kay Francis film Comet Over Broadway, offers anything from Hollywood beauty tips to rants about Katherine Hepburn. Jessica Pickens is a journalism student at Winthrop University who is interested in silent films to anything made before 1964. She writes for Winthrop’s student newspaper, The Johnsonian, and the Shelby Star in Shelby North Carolina. Check out her Facebook page.