Monday, November 1, 2010

Celebrity Grave: Actor Noah Berry Jr.

Noah Lindsey Beery (August 10, 1913 – November 1, 1994), known professionally as Noah Beery, Jr. or just Noah Beery, was an American actor specializing in warm, friendly character parts similar to the ones played by his uncle Wallace Beery, although Noah Beery, Jr., unlike his uncle, seldom broke away from playing supporting roles. His father, Noah Nicholas Beery (known professionally as Noah Beery or Noah Beery, Sr.), enjoyed a similarly lengthy film career as a supporting actor.

Beery was best known as James Garner's father, Joseph "Rocky" Rockford, in the 1970s television series The Rockford Files.

Life and career

Beery was born in New York City, New York where his father was working as a stage actor. The family moved to California in 1915 when his father began acting in motion pictures. After attending school in Los Angeles, they moved to a ranch in the San Fernando Valley, a style of living he would maintain for the rest of his life.

At the age of seven, he appeared with his father in The Mark of Zorro and like his father, who immediately began billing himself as "Noah Beery, Sr.," he went on to become a respected character actor. His uncle, Oscar-winning screen phenomenon Wallace Beery, became the world's highest-paid actor by 1932, and while neither Noah nor his father ever approached that level, both had extremely long and memorable film careers. All three acting Beerys physically resembled each other rather closely, but Noah, Jr. lacked a thrillingly powerful voice like his father's and uncle's (which is ironic, since both older Beerys made major careers as supporting actors in silent movies).

Noah Beery, Jr. appeared in dozens of films, including a large early role as John Wayne's action partner in 1934's The Trail Beyond (Wayne was 27 years old and Beery was 21), 20 Mule Team with his uncle, and Red River with Wayne, but is best known for his role as Joseph "Rocky" Rockford, the father of Jim Rockford, James Garner's character on the popular television series The Rockford Files (1974–1980). Beery's television work also included a weekly stint as a clown in Circus Boy with Mickey Dolenz in the mid-1950s. In 1960, he replaced Burt Reynolds in the co-starring role in Riverboat, an NBC western series starring Darren McGavin. He appeared three times on the long running TV western The Virginian in the 1960s.

Noah Beery, Jr. died in 1994 in Tehachapi, California of a cerebral thrombosis and was interred in the Forest Lawn - Hollywood Hills Cemetery with his father and mother, Margarite Lindsey. His uncle, Wallace Beery is interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California. His first wife was Maxine Jones, only child of Western star Buck Jones, until 1966. His second wife was Lisa Thorman, from 1968 until his death. He was survived by his wife, Lisa; two daughters, Muffett and Melissa; a son, actor Bucklind Beery; and three step children, Page, Sean, and Lorena. His television star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is at 7021 Hollywood Blvd.


Partial filmography

The Mark of Zorro (1920; uncredited) with Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. and Noah Beery, Sr.
Heroes of the West (1932)
Fighting with Kit Carson (1933) with Noah Beery, Sr.
The Trail Beyond (1934) with John Wayne and Noah Beery, Sr.
The cliff hanger series Ace Drummond (1936)
Only Angels Have Wings (1939) with Cary Grant and Rita Hayworth
Of Mice and Men (1939) with Burgess Meredith and Lon Chaney, Jr.
20 Mule Team (1940) with Wallace Beery and Anne Baxter
Sergeant York (1941) with Gary Cooper, Walter Brennan, and Joan Leslie
Overland Mail (1942) with Lon Chaney, Jr. and Noah Beery, Sr.
Follow the Boys (1944) with George Raft, Orson Welles, and Marlene Dietrich
Red River (1948) with John Wayne and Montgomery Clift
The Story of Will Rogers (1952) with Will Rogers, Jr. and Jane Wyman
War Arrow (1953) with Maureen O'Hara and Jeff Chandler
White Feather (1955) with Robert Wagner and Jeffrey Hunter
Circus Boy (1956 ~ 1958) Uncle Joey ~ The Clown
Decision at Sundown (1957) with Randolph Scott
Inherit the Wind (1960) with Spencer Tracy and Fredric March
Little Fauss and Big Halsey (1970) with Robert Redford, Michael J. Pollard, and Lauren Hutton
Walking Tall (1973) with Joe Don Baker and Elizabeth Hartman
The Spikes Gang (1974) with Lee Marvin and Gary Grimes
The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1982) with Burt Reynolds and Dolly Parton
Waltz Across Texas (1982) with Anne Archer

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