I just finished reading “Company of Heroes, My Life as an Actor in the John Ford Stock Company” by Harry Carey, Jr.He was the son of Harry Carey, Sr. and had a long film career, attaining a reputation as an authority on Western films.
To me, he is always Dobe (a nickname because of his hair the color of adobe brick)who i first know on his father’s ranch in 1936-38. I am 10 years old, his sister, Cappy, l3, and he is 16. Cappy and I ride out nearly every day to explore the l,000 plus acres of the ranch, find the horses and the cattle, and stampede them up the canyons. Dobe, shy, riding more sedately, always chooses a direction opposite to ours, singing opera all the while. He keeps busy with his two friends, Al Taylor and Bobby Robertson. Al is a short, sturdy, wirey tough guy who Dobe wants to train to be a prizefighter, and who, eventually, marries Cappy. Bobby is a tall,handsome teenager who eventually becomes a professional football player. Dobe does not become an opera singer.
After we move from the ranch and go back to New York, our families are not as close, although Dobe, working in New York at the World’s Fair for a short while, comes to visit us. I am l4. He is 20. One day, he takes me to see “Dumbo” and we both sit in the theater crying our eyes out. Soon after, he enters the Navy. We, again, return to California and frequently see the Carey family once more. Dobe gets married to Marilyn Fix, daughter of actor Paul Fix, and we attend, along with half of Hollywood, including John Wayne and John Ford.After the war, Dobe becomes an actor, performing in many, many films such as ” 3 Godfathers, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, Wagonmaster, Rio Grande, Red River, Mr. Roberts, The Searchers,and Cheyenne Autumn,” as well as Tv shows. “Red River” is a film that brings Dobe and his father together in the cast, along with others who play small parts in my life: writer Borden Chase, Joanne Dru, and Walter Brennan.
Around 1965 or so, there is a strike in the industry, and the actors are having a rough time. I happen to be the casting director for The Standard School Broadcast then, and we shoot 3 or 4 scripts at one time with actors playing historical figures. I gather together an acting troupe, among which is Dobe. At $200 a script, I can give them 3 scripts at a time to record in one day, so that they walk away with $600 or more for a couple of hours of work.
At the age of 91, Dobe dies of natural causes. A year earlier, a friend and I plan to visit him and Marilyn, but before the date we all set, Marilyn calls to say, “Dobe fell down in the bathroom, and he’s in the hospital.We’ll have to postpone.” We never do make that vijsit.
Even though I have known him for many years in the industry, I always think of Dobe as riding on the ranch, singing into the wind. My daughter ran into him at a meeting several years ago. She introduced herself to him as my daughter, and Dobe’s first remark to the friend by his side was, “Her mother rode like an Indian, bareback and wide open!” I guess those childhood memories stamp us forever in other’s minds.
Now, he is off singing opera in the widest of open spaces with God as an audience.