Character actor built career in Westerns, including 'She Wore a Yellow Ribbon' and 'The Searchers'

Harry Carey Jr., who starred in such oaters as “3 Godfathers” and “Wagon Master” during a career that spanned more than 50 years, died Thursday of natural causes in Santa Barbara. He was 91.

While Carey lacked the leading-man stature of longtime friend and co-star John Wayne, his boyish looks and horse-riding skills earned him roles in many John Ford’s films, including classics such as “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon,” “The Searchers” and “The Long Gray Line.” Later in life, he appeared in the movies “Gremlins” and “Back to the Future Part III.”

He and fellow character actor Ben Johnson famously learned to stand simultaneously on two galloping horses — a trick known as roman riding — for the 1950 film “Rio Grande” starring Wayne.

Carey was the son of silent-film Western star Harry Carey Sr. and actress Olive Carey. He was born on his family’s ranch and graduated from Hollywood’s Black-Foxe Military Institute. During WWII, he served in the Navy and worked with Ford on films for the Navy.

His memoir, “Company of Heroes: My Life as an Actor in the John Ford Stock Company,” was published in 1994.

“My journey has been that of a character actor,” he wrote in the book. “I’ve worked with the great and the not-so-great. But mostly I’ve worked with men and women who loved their profession, and who like me, had kids to raise and houses to pay for.”

He is survived by his wife, a son, two daughters, three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

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