Sunday, February 8, 2009

Harry Carey

Harry Carey was an American actor and one of silent film's earliest superstars.

Carey was born Henry DeWitt Carey II in The Bronx, New York, the son of Ella J. Ludlum and Henry DeWitt Carey, a prominent lawyer and judge. He attended Hamilton Military Academy then studied law at New York University. After a boating accident which led to pneumonia, Carey wrote a play while recuperating and toured the country in it for three years, earning a great deal of money, all of which evaporated after his next play was a failure. In 1911, his friend Henry B. Walthall introduced him to director D.W. Griffith, for whom Carey was to make many films.

Although Carey, one of Hollywood's finest character actors of the sound era, received an Oscar nomination for his role as the President of the Senate in the 1939 film, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, he is best remembered as one of the first stars of the Western film genre. He married at least twice and perhaps a third time (census records for 1910 indicate he had a wife named Clare E. Carey, and some references state that he was also married to actress Fern Foster). His last marriage was to actress Olive Fuller Golden (1896-1988). They purchased a large ranch in Saugus, California, north of Los Angeles. Their son, Harry Carey, Jr. would become a character actor, and most famous for his roles in Westerns. Father and son both appeared (albeit in different scenes) in the 1948 film, Red River, which was filmed late in 1946 and went unreleased for almost two years.

Carey made his Broadway stage debut in 1940.

A smoker, Harry Carey died in 1947 from a combination of lung cancer, emphysema and coronary thrombosis, at the age of 69. He was interred in Woodlawn Cemetery in the family mausoleum in The Bronx, New York.