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Local News

Actor Harry Carey Jr., 91, Dies in Santa Barbara

His credits include a film career spanning more than 50 years, most notably for his roles in John Ford westerns

Harry Carey Jr., a character actor known for his roles in John Ford westerns, died Dec. 27 at the Sarah House hospice facility in Santa Barbara. He was 91.

Harry Carey Jr.
Harry Carey Jr. ( photo)

His film career lasted more than 50 years, ranging from western classics alongside John Wayne to the more recent Gremlins and Tombstone.

He was born May 16, 1921, in Saugus, Calif., where his family owned a ranch. Both parents were actors. His father, Harry Carey, starred in silent movie westerns and worked with Ford for many of his films. His mother, Olive Fuller Carey, was an actress.

Harry Carey Jr. served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, and then turned to film. When his father died in 1947, he was cast in 3 Godfathers by Ford, which became his breakout role.

He and his wife, Marilyn, lived in Durango, Colo., and California, and moved to Santa Barbara full-time 10 years ago, according to their daughter, Melinda Carey of Santa Barbara.

“It’s just been fantastic to have the whole family able to be so accessible to one another,” she said. “My kids got to see them more often, and my grandson got the experience of spending time with his great-grandparents — I think it’s so unusual these days.”

Harry Carey Jr. is survived by his wife, actress Marilyn Frances Fix Carey; his sister, Ella “Cappy” Carey, who lives in Santa Barbara; his son, Thomas, of Los Angeles; his daughter, Melinda, of Santa Barbara; his daughter, Lily, who lives in Los Angeles; his three grandchildren, Joe Carey, Alec Menoni and Vanessa Carson; and two great-grandchildren, Wesley Carson and Liam Menoni. 

“They just loved being in Santa Barbara, and people still came and visited,” Melinda Carey said. “They kept all their old friends to the end.”

Harry and Marilyn met people at western shows and movies, and “would just open up their home to everybody,” she added. “The whole thing with him, with both my parents really, they were just so welcoming, and everyone who met them felt they were their friends forever — and they were.”

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Jan. 12 at Trinity Episcopal Church, 1500 State St. in Santa Barbara.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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