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  THE CRIMSON CORRAL: Western Memories
 
HARRY CARRY JR. - Interview With A Legend
 
An Interview With Harry Carry Jr. by Tim Lasiuta

On March 30, 2000  I was privileged to speak to Harry Carey Jr., the son of stuntman and Hollywood legend, Harry Carey Sr, and a legend in his own right.

Being a western fan for some years now, I loved watching John Wayne, the Ringo Kid crawl under the moving stagecoach only to come up from the back, relatively unscathed.  Then,  years later, as Indiana Jones performed the same magic, I remembered the man responsible for the original stunt, and the impact he had on the industry.  Harry Carey Sr was remarkable, and his son, in his own way, has followed in his large footsteps, and has blazed his own path in a different era

Tim:  I'm a writer up in Canada.
 
HC:  Oh my goodness, you're a long ways away.
 
Tim:  I was going to ask you a few questions about movies you've been in, what stars you've worked with, and you general impressions of the industry.
 
HC:  Fire away.

Tim:  You had an article in American Cowboy a couple of months ago.

HC: Oh yeah.

Tim: That was a great interview.

HC:  Yeah, that was really nice.  A nice picture of Marilyn and myself, and the house.  It was very nice.

Tim:  Your living room looks like Iíd like mine to be someday.

HC:  Well, I tell you.  We live a couple of minutes from town.  We live in the woods, it's very pleasant.  We've been here 11 years now.  Durango is down in South East Colorado, not near Denver.  Very nice to live here.

Tim:  You said in another interview that your favorite movie of all time is "The Searchers."

HC: It's not my favorite role.  I got killed early in, but it is the best film I was ever in.

Tim:  What do you mean best?  Actors?  Director?

HC:  Well, it was just a great story.  It had some great actors.  John Ford directed, I think it was the best he ever made.

Tim:  Did you ever work with your dad?

HC:  Well, I was in one picture with him.  We were never in the same scene in "Red River".  "Red River" of course, starred John Wayne and Montgomery Cliff.   I was in the beginning, and my father was in the end.  It was the last film my father ever made.  He passed away shortly after that.

Tim:  In all your life, what has been your favorite role?  Stuntman, actor, writer,  father?

HC:  I guess it would be father of some wonderful kids.  They're all grown up now.  They're in their 40's and 50's.  I think the best role I ever had was in the beginning of my career.  It was called "The Three Godfathers."  I played a lot of small parts too.  I haven't been a 'star', but I've been a supporting actor all my life.

Tim:  Did you ever work with Roy Rogers.

HC:  No, I never worked with Roy.  I worked with John Wayne on 11 movies, and I worked with Richard Whitmarch, William Logan, Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart five times, and a lot of different stars, but never Roy Rogers.  I hate to say, that he made B Westerns, I was fortunate to be in A Westerns.

Tim:  Roy did make B Westerns, but in some ways, they had more impact that A Westerns.  People seem to remember the might B's more fondly.

HC:  They do.

Tim:  Your wife was saying that you had received an award recently.

HC:  About 2 weeks ago, there's an outfit in Fort Collins, Colorado called Investment Arms, and they presented me with a rifle which is on display in town.  It's got 24 carat gold all over and my career engraved on it.  It's a beautiful piece of work.  Just terrific.

Archived Harry Carey Jr Investment Arms Issue

Tim: One thing I appreciate about the old westerns versus the new westerns that are out is the level of bloodshed.

HC:  They've overdone that I think.

Tim:  I've watched I don't know how many episodes of Roy Rogers, the Lone Ranger, and movies and you don't see any blood.  A guy gets shot, he falls down.  You know he's dead.

HC:  That started with a movie called the "Wild Bunch".  It was a wonderful movie but that was the beginning of the blood shed stuff.  That set the stage for it, and everybody started copying it.

Tim:  That set the stage for movie 'realism', I guess.

HC: They show a guy with his chest burst open and that ain't the way it happens.  The bullet goes out the back you know.

Tim:  I liked "Unforgiven" in some parts.  As a whole it was well done, and it is the last Western to win an Oscar.

HC:  It was a good movie.  I don't think that they needed all that swearing and sex.  I donít think the westerns are going to make a comeback until there's another tall rangy guy that'll fit the role.  There are no rangy type roles any more.  There are rangy actors, but they are not using them.

Tim: No, that's right.  I watch Walker, Texas Ranger every Saturday, and my favorite episodes are the flashbacks. I think they are great.

HC:  Yeah, they are.

Tim:  They did one flashback episode that had a connection I missed the first time I watched it.  Walker goes back in time to help a native youth get justice.  He has to leave the buck and his mother, and he gives the boy a bullet to seal his pledge that he would return.  I was thinking, how close to the Lone Ranger can you get?  There are other connections to the Lone Ranger in Walker as well.

HC:  Yeah, I did the Lone Ranger many years ago.  I worked with Clayton Moore.  He was a terrifically nice guy.  The schedule in those days was torture.  We shot those things in 2 1/2  to 3 days.  That's why Clayton Moore quit the show.  They just didn't take enough time to produce the show.  It was just wearing him out.  He quit for a while, and they had to get him back.

Tim:  I think Clayton Moore was born to be the Lone Ranger.

HC:  He really was.  He was, as I said, a real nice guy.

Tim:  John Hart was good.

HC:  He (John Hart) just didn't look right.

HC:  You know, there's one promising thing.  A lot of young people in their teens and little kids are watching westerns.  There's quite a few little kids that love the old Roy Rogers, and Gene Autry's. 

Tim:  I take a look at the future of westerns, like you say, unless there's a tall lanky guy, they won't make a comeback.

HC:  He'd be a star for it.

Tim:  It might be an unknown that does something amazing.

HC:  I think that's probably what will happen.

Tim:  What would an ideal western look like if you had to cast it?  What would it look like, and who would star in it?

HC:  The two guys I would have in it, and they're not young anymore are Tom Selleck and Sam Elliot.  They're both great and they ride well, and look like western guys.

Tim:  They both have that rugged look, and can ride a horse and be convincing.

HC:  They're good.  I know both of those guys.  I played both their dads once.

Tim:  One last thing.  Your wife said at the award ceremony two weeks ago "Let's get the movies out of the bedroom, and outdoors,"

HC:  Amen.  Good luck.

 

Interview/Article is (C)copyright Tim Lasiuta 2003 - And is printed here with the author's permission.
For more Western Fun, Check out WESTERN COLLECTIBLES.

 Selected Filmography

Dobe and A Company of Heroes (2002)

Last Stand at Saber River (1997)

Ben Johnson: 3rd Cowboy on Left (1996)

Tombstone (1993)

John Ford (1990)

Back To the Future III (1990)

The Shadow Riders (1982)

The Long Riders (1980)

Cahill, US Marshall (1973)

Shenandoah (1965)

Texas John Slaughter (1958 TV)

Spin and Marty (1957-8 TV)

The Searchers (1956)

Warpath (1951)

Copper Canyon (1950)

Rio Grande (1950)

She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949)

The 3 Godfathers (1948)

 Red River (1948)

Gunsmoke (TV various)

Wagon Train ( 1962 TV)

Lariamie ( 1962 TV)

Rawhide (1962 TV)

The Lone Ranger (1949 TV)

Have Gun Will Travel (1958 TV) 

 Harry Carey Jr Biography
 

 "A Company of Heroes: My Life as and Actor in the John Ford Stock Company"

 Scarecrow Filmmakers, 1994

Format:  Clothbound,
218 pages

Summary:  Harry Carey, Jr learned his craft at the feet of 2 masters, Harry Carey SR, and John Ford.  Harry Carey, Jr. has had a long career in the movies and this book recounts the high and low points during his journey.  Harry Carey, Jr  presents a well written entertaining volume complete with index and photographs. 

 

 

 

 

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