Harry Carey

Harry Carey


Also Known As
Henry Dewitt Carey Ii, Harry Carey Sr., Harry D. Carey, H. D. Carey
Birth Place
Bronx, New York, USA
January 16, 1878
September 21, 1947
Cause of Death
Coronary Thrombosis


To moviegoers during the era of silent films, Harry Carey was the quintessential cowboy, despite having been born no closer to the frontier than the Bronx. A judge's son, Carey was pointed toward a career in law when a bout of pneumonia sent him westward to recuperate. Channeling his experiences among Montana ranch hands into a hit play, Carey parlayed his success onstage into a career i...

Family & Companions

Olive Fuller Golden
Actor. Born in 1895; died in 1988.


To moviegoers during the era of silent films, Harry Carey was the quintessential cowboy, despite having been born no closer to the frontier than the Bronx. A judge's son, Carey was pointed toward a career in law when a bout of pneumonia sent him westward to recuperate. Channeling his experiences among Montana ranch hands into a hit play, Carey parlayed his success onstage into a career in motion pictures, making his debut for D. W. Griffith in 1909. Following Griffith to Hollywood, Carey became the star of dozens of Western two-reelers in which he etched his rough-hewn characters with a leathery verisimilitude he had seen firsthand. By 1917, Carey was a bona fide movie star, earning $1,250 a week to play white-hatted Cheyenne Henry in several films for John Ford. Though his career sagged as he aged beyond the range of the average leading man, Carey enjoyed a comeback as the indefatigable "Trader Horn" (1931), a box office hit for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. While continuing to play heroes in B-Westerns, Carey enjoyed a sidebar career as a reliable character player in such contemporary urban fare as Michael Curtiz' "Kid Galahad" (1937) and Frank Capra's "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" (1939), which netted him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Towards the end of his life he partnered for several above-average prairie dramas with rising star John Wayne, who eulogized Carey at the time of his 1947 death as the greatest Western actor of all time.

Harry Carey was born Henry DeWitt Carey II in the New York City borough of the Bronx, on Nov. 16, 1878. It was the hope of his father, a New York Supreme Court judge, that Carey attend the United States Military Academy at West Point, to which end the boy was first sent to Virginia's Hamilton Military Academy. Dropping out after three years, Carey enrolled in pre-law classes at New York University, later continuing his education at the New York Law School. When he contracted pneumonia after a boating accident on Long Island Sound, Carey's father sent him to recuperate in Montana. While regaining his health, he wrote a play based on his experiences and environment. With production funds supplied by his family, Carey toured the country in "Montana" for four years. His follow-up, "The Heart of Alaska," was a flop, but by this point Carey had forgotten about a career in law in favor of making his way as an actor. Eschewing the stage, Carey set his eyes on the fledgling film business. Through his friendship with actor Henry B. Walthall, Carey met director D.W. Griffith, for whom he made his motion picture debut in "Bill Sharkey's Last Game" (1909), earning a salary of five dollars a day.

Carey appeared in several of Griffiths' films for the Biograph Company in New York - among them "The Musketeers of Pig Alley" (1912) and "Gold and Glitter" (1912) with Elmer Booth and Lillian Gish - before following the maverick filmmaker to California. After a journeyman phase playing stock parts - sheriffs, outlaws, sailors, and soldiers - Carey broke out as a leading man in "The Master Cracksman" (1914), which he wrote and directed. He also took the lead in "McVeagh of the South Seas" (1914), which he codirected with Cyril Bruce, and stood behind the camera for the last time with the comic Western "Love's Lariat" (1916), which he directed in tandem with George Marshall. Having weathered a failed early marriage, Carey wedded his 19-year-old "Just Jim" (1915) co-star Olive Fuller Golden. In 1915, Carey left Biograph for Universal. For up-and-coming director John Ford, Carey starred in "Straight Shooting" (1917), one of several two-reel entries in a long-running series of Westerns centered on the adventures of cowboy hero Cheyenne Henry. Carey's growing popularity resulted in a pay raise from Universal, bringing his $150-a-week salary up to $1,250 - a extraordinary amount of money at that time.

Having spent time in the west, Carey based his characters on the ranch hands and cowboys he had known, grounding his film performances in a weathered, broken-in reality that contrasted sharply with the flashier screen presence of Tom Mix and Ken Maynard. Carey's commitment to realism would ultimately be his undoing at Universal, where studio head Carl Laemmle came to favor Carey's young protégé, Hoot Gibson, and plots that veered from verisimilitude towards sensationalism and melodrama. The actor was in his mid-forties when he broke with Universal in 1922. For independent producer Hunt Stromberg, Carey headlined such oaters as "The Night Hawk" (1924), "The Prairie Pirate" (1925), and "The Man from Red Gulch" (1925) before he signed with Pathé Exchange to star in the hit "Satan Town" (1926). Carey played the villain in MGM's early sound film "The Trail of '98" (1928), bedeviling romantic leads Delores Del Rio and Ralph Forbes before meeting his comeuppance in a saloon fire. He enjoyed a dual role as twin brothers on opposite sides of the law in Pathé's "Burning Bridges" (1928), but when the studio failed to renew his contract, the 50-year-old Carey and his wife made up for the shortfall as stars of a vaudeville tour.

Carey's flagging career was given a boost when MGM cast him in the title role of the safari drama "Trader Horn" (1930), shot on location in Uganda and the African Congo. The film was an undeniable success, which relaunched Carey as the star of a slew of B-Westerns and other adventure tales, such as the Mascot Pictures serial "Last of the Mohicans" (1932), in which he played James Fennimore Cooper's immortal frontier scout Hawkeye. Universal tapped Carey to play a Doc Holliday surrogate in "Law and Order" (1932), a fictionalized account of the Gunfight at the OK Corral, and he retained top billing when reteamed with Hoot Gibson for "Powdersmoke Range" (1935) and "The Last Outlaw" (1937) at RKO. Carey also excelled in non-Western roles, bringing a laconic sense of purpose to his role as a boxing trainer in Michael Curtiz's "Kid Galahad" (1937) and earning an Academy Award nomination as the president of the U.S. Senate in Frank Capra's "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" (1939). Carey would go on to co-star with John Wayne in "The Shepherd of the Hills" (1941), "The Spoilers" (1942), and "The Angel and the Badman" (1947). Returning to the stage, he made a belated Broadway debut in 1940.

Carey enjoyed vivid character work in King Vidor's "Duel in the Sun" (1946) and Elia Kazan's "The Sea of Grass" (1947), though he turned down with considerable indignation the offer of a part as a Nazi spy in Alfred Hitchcock's "Saboteur" (1942). Carey and his namesake son, Harry Carey, Jr., were both given roles opposite John Wayne in Howard Hawks' "Red River" (1948), though père et fils shared no screen time. Diagnosed with lung cancer - a condition exacerbated by emphysema and the bite of a black widow spider - Carey completed just one more film, Disney's "So Dear to My Heart" (1948), before his death by coronary thrombosis on Sept. 21, 1947 at the age of 69. Frequent co-star John Wayne would eulogize Carey as an inspiration and as the greatest Western actor of all time. Wayne, John Ford, and Harry Carey, Jr. would dedicate "3 Godfathers" (1948) - a sound remake of Edward Le Saint's "The Three Godfathers" (1916), in which Carey had starred - to his memory. He was buried in the Bronx's Woodlawn Cemetery in full Western regalia, and in 1976, he was inducted posthumously into the Western Players Hall of Fame.

By Richard Harland Smith



Director (Feature Film)

Love's Lariat (1916)
Mcveagh of the South Seas (1914)
The Master Cracksman (1914)

Cast (Feature Film)

So Dear to My Heart (1949)
Head judge
Red River (1948)
Duel in the Sun (1947)
Lem Smoot
The Sea of Grass (1947)
Doc Reid
Angel and the Badman (1947)
Wistful McClintock
China's Little Devils (1945)
Doc Temple
The Great Moment (1944)
Professor John C. Warren
Happy Land (1943)
Edward "Gramp" Marsh
Air Force (1943)
Crew chief [Robbie White]
The Spoilers (1942)
[Al] Dextry
Among the Living (1941)
Doctor Ben Saunders
The Shepherd of the Hills (1941)
Daniel Howitt
Parachute Battalion (1941)
Bill Richards
Sundown (1941)
Outside the 3-Mile Limit (1940)
Captain Bailey
They Knew What They Wanted (1940)
A doctor
Beyond Tomorrow (1940)
George Melton
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
President of the Senate
Street of Missing Men (1939)
Charles Putnam
Inside Information (1939)
Captain Bill Dugan
Code of the Streets (1939)
Lieutenant Lewis
My Son Is Guilty (1939)
Tim Kerry
Burn 'Em Up O'Connor (1939)
P.G.["Pinky"] Delano
Gateway (1938)
Commissioner Nelson
The Port of Missing Girls (1938)
Captain Josiah Storm
The Law West of Tombstone (1938)
William "Bonanza Bill" Barker
King of Alcatraz (1938)
Captain [G. S.] Glennon
You and Me (1938)
Mr. Morris
Sky Giant (1938)
Colonel Cornelius Stockton
Kid Galahad (1937)
Silver Jackson
Souls at Sea (1937)
Captain of "William Brown"
Born Reckless (1937)
Dad Martin
Border Cafe (1937)
Tex Stevens
Racing Lady (1937)
Tom Martin
Danger Patrol (1937)
Sam "Easy" Street
Annapolis Salute (1937)
Chief Martin
Sutter's Gold (1936)
Kit Carson
The Prisoner of Shark Island (1936)
Valiant Is the Word for Carrie (1936)
Phil Yonne
The Accusing Finger (1936)
Senator Nash
Little Miss Nobody (1936)
John Russell [also known as Phil Ormsbey]
The Last Outlaw (1936)
Dean Payton
Ghost Town (1936)
Cheyenne Harry Morgan
Aces Wild (1936)
Harry "Cheyenne" Morgan
Barbary Coast (1935)
Jed Slocum
Wild Mustang (1935)
Joe "Mustang" Norton
Rustler's Paradise (1935)
Cheyenne Kincaid
Last of the Clintons (1935)
Trigger Carson
Powdersmoke Range (1935)
Tucson Smith
Wagon Trail (1935)
Sheriff Hartley
Man of the Forest (1933)
Jim Gayner
Sunset Pass (1933)
John Hesbitt
Thundering Herd (1933)
Clark Sprague
Law and Order (1932)
[Fred] Brandt
Border Devils (1932)
Jim Gray
The Night Rider (1932)
The stranger [John Brown]
Without Honor (1932)
Pete Marlan
The Devil Horse (1932)
The Last of the Mohicans (1932)
Bad Company (1931)
Cavalier of the West (1931)
Captain John Allister
Trader Horn (1931)
Aloysius "Trader" Horn
The Vanishing Legion (1931)
The Trail of '98 (1929)
Jack Locasto
Burning Bridges (1928)
Jim Whitely/Bob Whitely
The Border Patrol (1928)
Bill Storm
A Little Journey (1927)
Alexander Smith
Slide, Kelly, Slide (1927)
Tom Munson
Satan Town (1926)
Bill Scott
The Frontier Trail (1926)
Jim Cardigan
The Seventh Bandit (1926)
David Scanlon
Driftin' Thru (1926)
Daniel Brown
Silent Sanderson (1925)
Joel Parsons/Silent Sanderson
The Man from Red Gulch (1925)
Soft Shoes (1925)
Pat Halahan
The Bad Lands (1925)
Patrick Angus O'Toole
Beyond the Border (1925)
Bob Smith
The Texas Trail (1925)
Pete Grainger
The Prairie Pirate (1925)
Brian Delaney
Roaring Rails (1924)
Big Bill Benson
The Night Hawk (1924)
"The Hawk"
The Lightning Rider (1924)
Philip Morgan
The Flaming Forties (1924)
Bill Jones, Tennessee's Pardner
Tiger Thompson (1924)
Tiger Thompson
The Miracle Baby (1923)
Neil Allison
Canyon of the Fools (1923)
Crashin' Thru (1923)
Desert Driven (1923)
Good Men and True (1922)
J. Wesley Pringle
The Kick Back (1922)
White Horse Harry
Man to Man (1922)
Steve Packard
The Wallop (1921)
John Wesley Pringle
"If Only" Jim (1921)
Jim Golden
The Fox (1921)
Ol' Santa Fe
Desperate Trails (1921)
Bart Carson
The Freeze Out (1921)
Ohio, The Stranger
Bullet Proof (1920)
Pierre Winton
Human Stuff (1920)
James "Jim" Pierce
Overland Red (1920)
Overland Red
Blue Streak Mccoy (1920)
Job McCoy
West Is West (1920)
Dick Rainboldt
Hearts Up (1920)
David Brent
Sundown Slim (1920)
Sundown Slim
The Ace of the Saddle (1919)
Cheyenne Harry Henderson
Riders of Vengeance (1919)
Cheyenne Harry
Roped (1919)
Cheyenne Harry
The Outcasts of Poker Flats (1919)
Square Shootin' Harry Lanyon/John Oakhurst
The Rider of the Law (1919)
Jim Kyneton
Marked Men (1919)
A Fight for Love (1919)
Cheyenne Harry
Bare Fists (1919)
Cheyenne Harry
A Gun Fightin' Gentleman (1919)
Cheyenne Harry
Three Mounted Men (1918)
Cheyenne Harry
The Phantom Riders (1918)
Cheyenne Harry
Hell Bent (1918)
Cheyenne Harry
The Scarlet Drop (1918)
"Kaintuck" Cass
Thieves' Gold (1918)
Cheyenne Harry
A Woman's Fool (1918)
Lin McLean
Wild Women (1918)
Cheyenne Harry
Bucking Broadway (1917)
Cheyenne Harry
The Fighting Gringo (1917)
William "Red" Saunders
The Secret Man (1917)
Cheyenne Harry
Straight Shooting (1917)
Cheyenne Harry
A Marked Man (1917)
Cheyenne Harry
The Almost Good Man (1917)
Behind the Lines (1916)
Dr. Ralph Hamlin
The Three Godfathers (1916)
Bob Sangster
Love's Lariat (1916)
Sky High
A Knight of the Range (1916)
Cheyenne Harry
Secret Love (1916)
Fergus Derrick
Graft (1916)
Judge Not; or, the Woman of Mona Diggings (1915)
Miles Rand
Just Jim (1915)
Judith of Bethulia (1914)
The traitor
Mcveagh of the South Seas (1914)
Cyril Bruce McVeagh
The Master Cracksman (1914)
Gentleman Joe

Writer (Feature Film)

Soft Shoes (1925)
The Kick Back (1922)
Hearts Up (1920)
Human Stuff (1920)
Riders of Vengeance (1919)
A Gun Fightin' Gentleman (1919)
Hell Bent (1918)
Wild Women (1918)
Hell Bent (1918)
A Knight of the Range (1916)
Mcveagh of the South Seas (1914)

Producer (Feature Film)

Sundown Slim (1920)
Wild Women (1918)
The Phantom Riders (1918)

Cast (Short)

Lest We Forget (1937)

Misc. Crew (Short)

Film Fun (1955)
Archival Footage
Make Mine Memories (1955)
Archival Footage

Life Events


Wrote a stage melodrama, "Montana", in which he toured (dates approximate)


Joined D W Griffith at Biograph studios in New York; appeared in three Westerns shot on Staten Island


Began film acting career in earnest with film, "Bill Sharkley's Last Game"


Went to Hollywood


One-shot reunion with director John Ford; played supporting role in Ford's "The Prisoner of Shark Island"


Received Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actor for his role as the vice president in Frank Capra's "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington"


Broadway debut, "Heavenly Express"


Played a leading role in a stage revival of Eugene O'Neill's comedy drama, "Ah, Wilderness!"


Acted onstage in "But Not Goodbye"


Release of last films, "So Dear to My Heart" and "Red River"


Movie Clip

Kid Galahad (1937) -- (Movie Clip) He Used To Be A Farmer Harry Carey as trainer Silver has been sent by the girlfriend of his promoter boss (Bette Davis and Edward G. Robinson, not seen here) to hide novice prize-fighter Ward (Wayne Morris, title character) with Edward G’s mom (Soledad Jimenez) and, not previously mentioned, kid sister Marie (Jane Bryan), Michael Curtiz directing, in Warner Bros.’ Kid Galahad, 1937.
Kid Galahad (1937) -- (Movie Clip) A Fighter's A Machine Michael Curtiz directs with Warner Bros.’ pace, meeting nearly all the principals (except the title character, Wayne Morris), fighters William Haade and Hank Hankinson, opposing managers Edward G. Robinson and Humphrey Bogart, Harry Carey the corner-man and Bette Davis the squeeze, opening Kid Galahad, 1937.
Trader Horn (1931) -- (Movie Clip) You Made Her No Promise Horn (Harry Carey) and sidekick Peru (Duncan Renaldo) find the remains of missionary Edith (Olive Golden, Carey's wife) but resolve to carry on, on location at noisy Murchison Falls on the Nile in modern-day Uganda, in MGM's Trader Horn, 1931.
Trader Horn (1931) -- (Movie Clip) We're White, Like Herself! Now captives of an especially hungry East African tribe, Horn (Harry Carey) and Peru (Duncan Renaldo) meet Nina (Edwina Booth), the captive they planned to rescue, who has become the chief, in MGM's Trader Horn, 1931.
Beyond Tomorrow (1940) -- (Movie Clip) The Soul Of Man Is Immortal Quote from Benjamin Franklin, a city montage and the introduction of Harry Carey as Melton, C. Aubrey Smith as Major Chadwick, then joined by their more festive housemate and partner in their prosperous engineering firm, Charles Winninger as O’Brien, in Beyond Tomorrow, 1940, produced by the acclaimed cinematographer Lee Garmes.
Beyond Tomorrow (1940) -- (Movie Clip) It Rarely Seemed Like Christmas We’ve learned that housekeeper Tanya (Maria Ouspenskaya) is a refugee Russian noble, long part of the unrelated family household comprised of prosperous engineering-firm partners and roommates Chadwick (C. Aubrey Smith), Melton (Harry Carey) and O’Brien (Charles Winninger), on Christmas Eve, in Beyond Tomorrow, 1940.
Beyond Tomorrow (1940) -- (Movie Clip) Somebody Here Lose A Wallet? Alone for Christmas Eve dinner, New York engineering-firm partners and bachelor roommates Melton, O’Brien and Chadwick (Harry Carey, Charles Winninger, C. Aubrey Smith) tried a bet to see who would return deliberately lost wallets containing ten dollars cash, producing first Richard Carlson, then Jean Parker, in Beyond Tomorrow, 1940.
Spoilers, The (1942) -- (Movie Clip) You Disappointed Corpse, You! Nome, Alaska, 1900, with escort Bronco (Richard Barthelmess), saloon owner Cherry (Marlene Dietrich) meets boyfriend Roy (John Wayne) at the boat, not expecting pretty Helen (Margaret Lindsay) with her uncle the judge (Harry Carey), as clowny miners Flapjack and Banty (Russell Simpson, George Cleveland) get into trouble, in The Spoilers, 1942, from a Rex Beach novel.
Air Force (1943) -- (Movie Clip) Hickam Radio The crew on the "Mary Ann" (John Garfield, Harry Carey, George Tobias, Ward Wood, John Ridgely et al) is headed for Hickam Field at Pearl Harbor when the radio signal is interrupted, in Howard Hawks' Air Force, 1943.
Air Force (1943) -- (Movie Clip) God Bless Mary Ann Conversations in the cockpit (John Ridgely, Gig Young, Arthur Kennedy) and cabin (Harry Carey, George Tobias, John Garfield) as the "Mary Ann" leaves San Francisco for Hawaii, in Howard Hawks' Air Force, 1943.
Air Force (1943) -- (Movie Clip) Open, Prologue Martial opening credits and prologue in which director Howard Hawks summons the intentions of Abraham Lincoln, in the wartime hit Air Force, 1943, starring John Garfield, Harry Carey and Gig Young.
Air Force (1943) -- (Movie Clip) Take A Good Look At Pearl Harbor Captain Quincannon (John Ridgely) advises the crew (Harry Carey, Gig Young, John Garfield, Arthur Kennedy et al) to take a good look at Pearl Harbor, following the raid, in Howard Hawks' Air Force, 1943.



Henry DeWitt Carey
Special Sessions judge. Later operated a horse-car line.
Harry Carey Jr
Actor. Born on May 16, 1921; survived him.
Ellen Carey
Survived him.


Olive Fuller Golden
Actor. Born in 1895; died in 1988.