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An Afternoon with Dobe Carey and family

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An Afternoon with Dobe Carey and family

Postby Lzcutter » May 31st, 2009, 1:58 pm

"Picnicking, Mr. Pennell"

Yesterday I drove up to Valencia (where Mr Cutter and I used to live). The freeway traffic as I zoomed up the 5 freeway came to a halt. Being an old hand, I knew where to exit and take surface streets. After driving to what felt like the far side of the moon, (man, has Valencia grown in the five years we've been gone), I arrived at the historic park where they were honoring Harry "Dobe" Carey, Jr. This being the 21st Century with what passes for well paved freeways and streets here in the City of Angels, I was able to do the drive (from my home in Sherman Oaks) in about 45 minutes. I can't even imagine what that drive must have been like (or how long it would have taken) in the 1920s. I'm guessing if you "went to town" you were planning to stay overnight and likewise, if you were going to visit the Carey's, you were staying overnight.

The Tesoro Adobe Historic Park is centered around the Carey family home that Harry Carey, Sr built back in the late twenties after losing his first ranch in the flooding after the San Francis dam collapse in 1928. The Carey family donated the house and out buildings to Los Angeles County a few years back. The County Parks and Rec has done an admirable job of keeping the place up. The various out buildings all have well written and easy to read histories.

To say thank you, they invited Dobe Carey and his family to come for a pot-luck lunch as well as informal question and answer session.

I got there about ten minutes before the Q&A began. There was a nice crowd, many dressed in western garb. Our first SSO guest star, author and film historian Bob Birchard was there with Hollywood Heritage president Marc Wanamaker.

Dobe is now 88 years old and though he uses a wheel chair to get around for long walk, he looks to be in good health and has a great memory. He talked about how he met his wife Marilyn. She was a friend of his sister, Ellen, who he calls Cappy. She was also character actor Paul Fix's daughter. He was about eight years older than her when they first met in the early 1940s. He went off to World War II (ultimately becoming a member of Pappy's WWII Photography unit). He came home on leave in 1944 and fell in love with Marilyn. He married her six weeks later and they are celebrating their 64th wedding anniversary this year.

He talked about his dad's first ranch which was located over in nearby Saugus. It was over 2,000 acres. Harry Carey, Sr had Navajos working on the ranch. (In fact, Dobe grew up speaking Navajo but he says his sister was better at the language than he was.) Carey, sr was getting ready to go back to New York for a film shoot and the Navajos asked if they could return Arizona and the reservation. Carey, sr asked why and they told him that the St. Francis dam (a large earthen dam supported on both sides by concrete supports) had a crack in it and was leaking. They told him the dam was going to break. Carey, sr gave his okay for Navajos to return to Arizona and he packed up his family and went to New York.
The dam broke late at night a short time later. The flood waters tore through the canyon destroying everything in it's path including the Carey Ranchero. In fact, debris from the flooding was found on the shores of Ventura, a coastal city about 50 miles from Saugus.

Harry, sr and Olive moved the family to higher ground and they built a new ranch and home. (Even further from Los Angeles and Hollywood). These folks must have loved the rugged life. The original ranch house at the old homestead had been built out of wood and had caught fire one night and burned down. Though a second house at the old homestead had been built, it too was built out of wood. After losing that home in the flood, Olive Carey wanted a sturdier home. Harry obliged and built her an adobe home.

Dobe talked about working with Ben Johnson and learning to "Roman-ride" while they were making Rio Grande. His story was interrupted when L.Q. Jones stopped by to say "hey". LQ Jones looks just like he has the last twenty some odd years for those who were wondering.

Dobe talked at length about working with Wayne and how much he enjoyed it. His favorite film is The Searchers and like many of us here, he believes it to be Wayne's best role. While making the film in Monument Valley, Wayne wasn't his usual jovial self either on the set or off, leading Dobe to talk about how much the character of Ethan Edwards had gotten under Wayne's skin.

His favorite Ford film is She Wore a Yellow Ribbon and he talked about how primitive the living conditions on location back in 1948 in Monument Valley. Arthur Shields who plays the doctor (and is Barry Fitzgerald's brother) helped Dobe find the character of Ross Pennell. A young girl got up and asked some questions about {b]Yellow Ribbon[/b] and ended with her story of when she and her family go on an outing they say "Picnicking, Mr. Pennell" and the crowd laughed along with her. Dobe then imitated Duke delivering the line!

I got a chance to also tell him how much so many of us here and at TCM City love his work. The Q&A lasted about 45 minutes and Dobe's wife and one of his daughters were great assists! LQ Jones proved to be the gentleman he is by not allowing the spotlight to be taken off of Dobe.

They both talked about working on Tombstone. Dobe talked about wearing knee pads for his big scene so that he could fall to his knees after getting shot. He says it was the dropping to his knees that sold that scene.

Afterwards, I was able to talk with him and Marilyn for a few minutes and he autographed my very old copy "Company of Heroes". He and Marilyn then gave a tour of the main ranch house.

It was a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon!
Lynn in Lake Balboa

"Film is history. With every foot of film lost, we lose a link to our culture, to the world around us, to each other and to ourselves."

"For me, John Wayne has only become more impressive over time." Marty Scorsese

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Re: An Afternoon with Dobe Carey and family

Postby moira finnie » May 31st, 2009, 2:40 pm

This is great, Lynn.

I hope that if possible, you will post photos from the event. I found some older photos of the Carey park site and "Dobe" and his sister "Cappy" playing as children at the Santa Clarita Signal newpaper, found here. Thanks for writing about this event.
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Re: An Afternoon with Dobe Carey and family

Postby JackFavell » May 31st, 2009, 5:44 pm

Lynn, I am so envious! Thanks for reporting on your "picnic" with Mr. Pennell and friends..... It sounds awesome.

I just finished Mr. Carey, Jr.'s book, The Company of Heroes yesterday, after getting it on inter-library loan. It was so good, I regret that I did not buy it in the first place, so I will order an autographed copy. Carey is painfully honest about his life and work, but still respectful of his co-workers. His stories of John Ford's stock company offer great insight into how movies were made, (at least by Ford).

Here is the link to the Harry Carey Jr. website where you can get the book or even write to "Ol' Dobe" himself:

http://harrycareyjr.com/indexa.htm

I hope you don't mind if I post some pics of Harry, Jr. Sometimes I feel like he doesn't get his fair share of attention.....

Image
Image
Ol' Dobe roman riding in Rio Grande

Image
from Three Godfathers

Image
from Wagon Master

Image
as Brad Jorgensen in The Searchers

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Re: An Afternoon with Dobe Carey and family

Postby Lzcutter » May 31st, 2009, 7:24 pm

Kathy,

According to Dobe, they shot The Searchers in 28 days!!! Can you imagine!

Thanks for the wonderful photos and the link to Dobe's website. If there is anyone out there who hasn't read "Company of Heroes", I highly recommend it!

Here's a link to an interview with Dobe that Moira sent me:

http://tinyurl.com/ldjtfj
Lynn in Lake Balboa

"Film is history. With every foot of film lost, we lose a link to our culture, to the world around us, to each other and to ourselves."

"For me, John Wayne has only become more impressive over time." Marty Scorsese

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Re: An Afternoon with Dobe Carey and family

Postby JackFavell » May 31st, 2009, 8:41 pm

Great article! I love the way he writes, he's very down to earth, and gets right to the point. He writes like I would assume he speaks...

Again, like in his book, he gets this story across, while remaining respectful of his subjects. Respect of elders and co-workers is so rare nowadays, it seems quite refreshing to me.

I also love his asides because they give so much background. His description of the apple box, and how grips refer to it is priceless information to me.

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Re: An Afternoon with Dobe Carey and family

Postby JackFavell » June 1st, 2009, 7:51 am

Lynn,

I just realized I didn't respond to the most interesting part of your post.... that THE SEARCHERS was made in 28 days!

Now, I would have a hard time believing that any movie could be made in 28 days, but a film like Wagon Master or maybe Rio Grande being made in that amount of time wouldn't surprise me as much. THE SEARCHERS is so intricate, with plot details and travel back and forth across rivers and through different climates, it just seems CRAZY that it could possibly have been been done. Ford must have had everything mapped out like a military exercise....why does THAT not surprise me?

Then again, in spite of it's intricacies, I realize that it is a smaller movie in many ways.... though the scope is huge, the action relies greatly on small numbers, sometimes only Wayne and Hunter. Perhaps it was a breeze to film, compared to the huge wagon trains and military expeditions of, say, the Trilogy.

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Re: An Afternoon with Dobe Carey and family

Postby mrsl » June 3rd, 2009, 5:50 pm

What a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon! I so envy you folks who live out West and can take advantage of these different re-built ranches and ghost towns. Illinois is filled with indoor museums and such but they are nothing like crawling around the ruins of the Hopi village we visited while we were driving West, or the ghost town just outside of Vegas. And Harry Carey, Jr. and his family home, of course, would be one of my favorite places to see. I still can't believe at one time I didn't realize that cute little blond fellow was the son of Harry Carey Sr.

Anne
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Re: An Afternoon with Dobe Carey and family

Postby movieman1957 » June 4th, 2009, 9:28 pm

I caught our guest of honor playing a nasty town sheriff in an episode of "Have Gun, Will Travel." Not only did he help steal Paladin's money he shot his own brother in the back. He was dispatched shortly thereafter. He lied to Paladin too.
Chris

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Re: An Afternoon with Dobe Carey and family

Postby moira finnie » December 10th, 2013, 12:12 pm

I just came across the article entitled "Harry Carey, Jr. 1921 - 2012: My Memories of Dobe" by Jennie Knudsen on the Classic Images site. I thought others might enjoy it
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