John Wayne idolized silent film star Harry Carey, who always played the cowboy.
And The Duke became friends with the family and did a chunk of movies with Harry Carey Jr. The John Wayne estate posted a short clip on Instagram about the Careys. It featured the voice of Carey Jr. talking about his relationship with Wayne.
The estate posted: “John Wayne was known as a cowboy, a calvary office, & a war hero to most, but to Harry Carey Jr, he was a friend. What role of John Wayne’s was your favorite?”
Careys Were Dear Friends of John Wayne
When the clip plays, you hear a voice say: “This is John Wayne, the cowboy, the cavalry officer, the war hero. That’s the John Wayne you know.
“I know John Wayne, too. John Wayne was a friend of my family. You see, my dad was a big western star in the old days. Harry Carey. Harry Carey Sr if you’d like. He was Duke’s idol.”
Carey Jr. then mentioned that Wayne hosted his wedding to his wife, Marilyn. Then the day his father died in 1947, Wayne, along with director John Ford, were with Carey Jr at Carey’s bedside. They were that close.
Wayne helped Carey Jr. secure his first role. That was in Red River, which also featured Carey’s dad. Howard Hawks directed the movie, which was all about a cattle drive from Texas to Kansas. Hawk gave Wayne, who portrayed Thomas Dunson, a belt buckle to commemorate the movie. And Wayne often wore it in his other westerns. As for Carey Jr., in his first role, he played a cattle wrangler.
Carey Made 11 Movies with Wayne
Carey Jr made 90 movies and 11 of them were with Wayne. He often played his sidekick. He had red hair and a light complexion. The New York Times reported he often turned up the front brim of his hats. That way, the hat wouldn’t overwhelm his features.
Carey Jr was in the movie The Searchers, which is considered one of the best westerns ever made. In the movie, John Wayne plays a Civil War vet who is in search of his long-lost niece Debbie, played by Natalie Woods. Comanches kidnapped both of Wayne’s nieces from his brother’s ranch. One was killed. Wayne went to find his other niece, who ended up marrying her kidnapper. He eventually brings her home.
John Wayne and Carey Jr also appeared in other movies, including She Wore a Yellow Ribbon and Wagon Master.
Wayne died in 1979. But Carey Jr didn’t retire from movies for another two decades. He was 91 when he died in 2012 of natural causes. He was the last surviving member of Ford’s stock of actors who he cast in his westerns.
Leonard Maltin, the film critic, told the Los Angeles Times that Carey evolved into a movie historian of the “modern era.”
“He would get hired on films by young directors who just wanted to work with him,” Maltin said. “To be one step away from the legends. Some hired him to just hear his stories between takes.”
And the Wayne estate preserved some of his stories about The Duke.