Sunday, September 12, 2010

Kevin McCarthy, R.I.P.

Excerpts from --

Kevin McCarthy, the veteran stage and screen actor best known for his starring role as the panicked doctor who tried to warn the world about the alien "pod people" who were taking over in the 1956 science-fiction suspense classic "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," died Saturday. He was 96.

McCarthy died of natural causes at Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis, Mass., said his daughter Lillah.

During a career that spanned more than 70 years, beginning on stage in New York in the late 1930s, McCarthy played Biff Loman opposite Paul Muni's Willy in the 1949 London production of "Death of a Salesman."

Reprising his role in the 1951 film version opposite Fredric March, he earned a supporting-actor Oscar nomination and won a Golden Globe as most promising male newcomer.

McCarthy had appeared in several other films and had a string of TV anthology-series credits behind him when he was cast as Dr. Miles Bennell in "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," director Don Siegel's thriller about an unsuspecting California town whose residents were being replaced by emotionless alien clones grown in oversized seed pods.

In the film's most memorable scene, McCarthy's frantic Bennell runs into traffic, screaming to motorists, "Stop and listen to me. …. They're not human. … Can't you see? Everyone! They're here already. You're next!"

The low-budget film became an enduring cult classic that was selected for preservation in the Library of Congress' National Film Registry in 1994.

McCarthy, who made a cameo appearance in the 1978 remake, got a lot of mileage out of the original film in his later years, appearing often as a guest at film festivals and autograph shows.

McCarthy's long career included numerous guest appearances on TV series such as "The Twilight Zone," "Burke's Law," "Flamingo Road" and "Murder, She Wrote."

He also appeared in about 50 films, including "An Annapolis Story," "40 Pounds of Trouble," "The Prize," "The Best Man," "Kansas City Bomber," Buffalo Bill and the Indians," "Piranha" and "The Howling."

In addition to his many Broadway and other stage credits, McCarthy toured for many years as President Harry Truman in the one-man show "Give 'Em Hell, Harry."

He also was a footnote in the movie career of Marilyn Monroe, playing the husband Monroe divorced in Reno at the outset of "The Misfits," the Arthur Miller-written, John Huston-directed 1961 drama starring Monroe, Clark Gable and Montgomery Clift.

The son of a lawyer and his homemaker wife, McCarthy was born Feb. 15, 1914, in Seattle. He and his two brothers and sister — Mary McCarthy, who later became an author and wrote the bestselling novel "The Group" — were orphaned when both parents died in the 1918 flu epidemic and were sent to live with relatives.

McCarthy began acting in the 1930s at the University of Minnesota, where, on a dare from a friend, he played a bit part in "Henry IV, Part 1."

After moving to New York, he made his Broadway debut in a small role in " Abe Lincoln in Illinois," starring Raymond Massey, in 1938. As Sgt. Kevin McCarthy during World War II, he appeared in Moss Hart's "Winged Victory," the Broadway play produced by the Army Air Forces.

McCarthy appeared in several Broadway plays in the years immediately after the war, including Maxwell Anderson's short-lived "Truckline Cafe" with Marlon Brando and Karl Malden. He also was a founding member of the Actors Studio.


Wings said...

Good, long life. He has been in so many things, I am sure everyone knows his work.


Mother Firefly said...

Nice tribute. I actually hadn't heard he'd passed away.

I also have passed along the Zombie Rabbit award to you: