May 16, 1921 – December 27, 2012
The young Dobe's dream was to become a classical singer like the opera singer/movie star Lawrence Tibbett, and he moved to New York City to study voice. In 1939 Dobe got his first paying job as a performer at the New York World's Fair, as a horse-rider in the show "Railroads on Parade." He become a page at the National Broadcasting Co. in 1941, but with the declaration of war he joined the Navy. In his three years as a sailor he served as a medical corpsman before being transferred to director John Ford's photographic unit, which was part of the Navy but also worked for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the predecessor of the CIA. Ford had been the director on many Dobe's father's silent westerns and was close to his parents. Dobe protested against the transfer, but it was made nonetheless.
Dobe married Marilyn Fix, the daughter of the actor Paul Fix, in 1944 while he was on leave from in the Navy. They have remained married for over 60 years, and have four children and three grandchildren (so far).
After being discharged from the Navy at the end of the war, Carey followed his father into acting in 1946 by accepting a role in Rolling Home (1946), and then following it up with a featured role in Raoul Walsh's Pursued (1947). Carey's long association with John Wayne began in Howard Hawks's classic western Red River (1948), and his long-time acting association with Ford began with his role as "The Abilene Kid" in 3 Godfathers (1948), a movie that was dedicated to his father, who had passed away in 1947. Ford had been the director of the original version of this movie in 1919, which had starred Carey's father. John Wayne was Carey's co-star, and the pair acted together in nine more movies.
Carey became a member in good standing of John Ford's stock company of actors. He appeared in the Ford/Wayne films She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949), Rio Grande (1950) and The Searchers (1956), and with Ford but without Wayne in Wagon Master (1950) and The Long Gray Line (1955). Carey also appeared in Mister Roberts (1955) (which was begun by Ford but completed by Mervyn LeRoy after a couple of weeks of filming). He worked with Ford again in Two Rode Together (1961), and in Cheyenne Autumn (1964) without Wayne. Other movies filmed in which he worked with Wayne, but not Ford, were Island in the Sky (1953), Rio Bravo (1959), The Undefeated (1969), Big Jake (1971) and Cahill U.S. Marshal (1973). Dobe’s film career stretched in the 1990’s (and beyond), with appearances in Mask (1985), Back to the Future III (1990) and Tombstone (1993).
Dobe Carey’s career also included several appearances on television. He appeared in programs such as Have Gun Will Travel, Wagon Train (starring his good friend Ward Bond), The Legend of Jesse James, Gray Ghost, Whispering Smith, Tombstone Territory, The Rounders, Bonanza and Gunsmoke. Carey also starred as ranch counselor Bill Burnett in the Disney serial Spin and Marty between 1955 and 1957.
Carey has also made two film documentaries, John Ford's America (1989) (TV) and Legends of the West (1992). Carey appeared with his father, Harry Carey Sr. in just one film, Red River (1948), although the two did not have any scenes together. Dobe was cast in two movies with his mother, Olive Carey: The Searchers (1956) and Two Rode Together (1961).
In total, Harry Carey Jr. appeared in nearly 100 movies and almost 100 television programs.
As he grew older, and reached an age where many people would seriously consider retiring completely, Dobe continued working. In addition to making many live appearances, he also appeared on several internet and radio programs, where he was interviewed. He also completed his autobiography, “Company of Heroes: My Life as an Actor in the John Ford Stock Company.”
Carey also appeared in Tales from the Set, a series of video interviews in which he discussed various individuals with whom he worked. The series debuted in France at the Epona Festival, an event devoted to horses, in October 2007. In 2001 Carey's life and career was documented in a feature length documentary, Dobe And A Company Of Heroes. In 2009, Carey and his partner Clyde Lucas completed Trader Horn: The Journey Back, a remembrance of the 1931 adventure film featuring the elder Carey. The younger Carey accompanied his father to Africa for the filming, the first motion picture filmed in Africa by a major studio.
In the years before his death, Carey attempted to produce a feature film called Comanche Stallion, a project which John Ford considered making in the early 1960s, based on the 1958 book by Tom Millstead.
In 1987 Dobe was awarded a Golden Boot by the Motion Picture & Television Fund Foundation, and in 2003 he won a Silver Spur Award from Reel Cowboys. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, awarded for his television activities, located at 6363 Hollywood Blvd. Also in 2003, he was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
On December 27, 2012, Harry “Dobe” Carey, Jr. passed away, dying of natural causes in Santa Barbara, California. He was surrounded by those he loved, and who loved him. He was 91. His body of work will forever remain as a testament to his great ability as an actor, and his memory will live on in the hearts and minds of fans around the world. He was a wonderful actor, a wonderful singer, and a true gentleman.
We’ll miss you Dobe.