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The actor who inspired John Wayne’s entire personality

As a singular presence and towering figure in American cinema, it might be a cliché to say so, but it is also entirely true that there will only ever be one John Wayne.

After rising to fame in the late 1930s, “The Duke” carefully cultivated his on-screen persona that became part of the mythology that gradually built up around him. The laconic line, the signature stance, his embrace of the tough guy persona and his outspoken opinions have all become key parts of his legend.

However, Wayne might not have become such a legendary figure in the annals of celluloid without Harry Carey, who proved to be the biggest performative inspiration of his career. John Ford may be his most famous collaborator, but “The Duke,” as he recalls, would not have toured as it did without another regular partner.

Wayne and Carey starred together in The Shepherd of the Hills, Spoilers, Angel and the villainAnd Red River between 1941 and 1948, the latter being a posthumous release following Carey’s death in September 1947 at the age of 69. His son, Harry Carey Jr, and his wife, Olive Carey, were also actors, and they would eventually be welcomed into the Western superstar’s inner circle as well.

Carey’s boy has worked alongside ‘The Duke’ in a number of feature films, including Rio Bravo And Big Jakewhile his wife was part of the cast in The wings of the eagles And The Alamowhile both were present and represented the Researchers as Brad Jorgenson and Mrs. Jorgenson respectively.

As told in the book by Joseph McBride Looking for John Ford, Wayne told Carey Jr. about the impact his old man had on his entire personality. “I’ve been watching your dad since I was a kid,” he said. “I copied Harry Carey. That’s where I learned to speak the way I do, that’s where I learned so many of my manners. I’m watching your father.

According to Wayne, Carey “projected a quality that we like to think of in Western men”, which he used to shape his own on-screen iconography. The iconic final shot of Researchers with Ethan Edwards standing in the doorway was also a direct homage to Carey, with the character holding his right elbow with his left hand, a pose his hero often used in his own films.

Carey’s widow was on set that day, on the other side of the camera, in what must have been an extremely emotional moment for them both. Without him, there would be no “Duke” as everyone knows him, which, by extension, makes the modest and prolific artist one of the most influential figures in Hollywood history.