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Harry Carey Jr.: Memories of a legend

Harry Carey Jr. and family visit Tesoro Adobe Historic Park

Posted: May 31, 2009 10:11 p.m.
Updated: June 1, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Harry "Dobe" Carey Jr., left, relates a childhood memory of his father to City Councilwoman Laurene Weste, center, and Western actor Ty Hardin at a gathering of family and friends at Tesoro Adobe Park on Saturday.

Whether they referred to him as their good friend "Dobe" or approached him with a more formal "Mr. Carey," friends and fans welcomed Harry Carey Jr. and his family back to what was once his old ranch at Tesoro Adobe Historic Park in Valencia on Saturday.

The "Return of the Careys," event found the famous Harry Cary Jr., his wife Marilyn, two daughters, Lily and Melinda, and friends sitting in the midst of more than 100 guests eager to see the Western film legend within a renovated version of his old ranch setting.

"It brings back a lot of memories," said Carey Jr. as he sat in the courtyard while enjoying fried chicken, bread rolls and live country music as olds friends and long-time fans awaited their moment with him and his family.

Many fellow Western stars such as Ty Hardin and L.Q. Jones also shared the table with Carey throughout the day.

Now a Los Angeles County park, Tesoro Adobe is on the site of the 1,000-acre ranch once owned by the Careys. Western film actor Harry Carey, credited with at least 233 movies, built the ranch in the 1920s and 1930s.

Carey's son, Harry Carey Jr. known to many by his nickname, "Dobe," was born on the ranch May 16, 1921.

"Everything that is beautiful and [that] I'm most proud of happened at this place," he said. "It was a great place to grow up. We had horses and livestock, and when I got into motion pictures, I didn't have to learn (how to ride a horse), because we did all that at the ranch."

Carey Jr., who is now 88 years old and lives in Santa Barbara, shared his memories of growing up on the ranch and in Santa Clarita.
"It was real wild country, every evening you went to sleep you could hear the coyotes," he said.

Carey elicited laughter from the crowd when he told of a time when William S. Hart ate too many chili peppers in one bite during a yearly visit to the ranch.

Carey and his sister, Cappy, were laughing so hard they had to go into the other room, he said.

"Bill starts chewing those things and he turns purple," Carey Jr. said. "That was one evening I remember best."

Carey's wife of 64 years, Marilyn, met him when her father, actor Paul Fix, and Carey Sr. were working on a movie together.

"I came up here (to the ranch) since I was 12," she said. "I was destined to marry him. I thought he was very cute at the time."

Genia Arnold, 88, of Santa Clarita, is a long-time friend of the Carey's who was asked to sit at the guests' table.

"Dobe and I have been friends since we were 8 years old," she said. "We had Shetland ponies and we used to ride up here from Newhall."

Carey Jr. got into the family film business after serving in the Navy and the Office of Strategic Services during World War II. He holds a long list of big and small screen credits.

Roydon Clark, a stuntman of La Crescenta, has known Carey for more than 40 years and worked with him in movies such as "The Undefeated" (1969) and "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon" (1949).

"It's my pleasure to come up and enjoy a moment with yesterday's heroes," he said. "We relive the yesterdays and enjoy tomorrows."

Valencia resident, Ray Acosta, 85, hadn't seen Carey Jr. since he was a child living at the ranch's guesthouse.

"My father, Trinidad, was a worker for the ranch in 1935," he said. "We lived here four or five years when I was around 12 (years old). His sister Cappy would come over, we'd let her in and play games."

Fans who had never met Carey Jr. were also present on Saturday.

"We're big fans of Harry Carey Jr., we love his movies," said Randy Osborne, of Saugus, who attended with his daughter Emily. "If you're into Westerns, this is huge."

Carey Jr. received awards and scrolls of recognition presented by many local dignitaries.

He also received an original painting of his adobe home from artist Lorelle Miller of the Santa Clarita Artists' Association, which co-hosted the event with the city of Santa and L.A. County, and presented a Western-themed art show displaying works by local artists throughout the ranch house as well as musical entertainment. 

"I'm having a wonderful time. Everyone here is real nice," said Carey Jr. on his way to tour his old adobe house.

He said he was looking most forward to seeing his old corner room at the front of the house, where he slept.

"Let's just say, I felt that he needed to know he was appreciated by even the newcomers and sure enough the family is appreciated," said Albert L. Ewing, the event's coordinator and recreation services leader for William S. Hart Park.


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