Kevin McCarthy (actor)

Last updated

Kevin McCarthy
Kevin McCarthy 1.jpg
McCarthy in 2000
Born(1914-02-15)February 15, 1914
DiedSeptember 11, 2010(2010-09-11) (aged 96)
Alma mater University of Minnesota
Years active1937–2010
  • (m. 1941;div. 1961)
  • Kate Crane
    (m. 19792010)
Relatives Mary McCarthy (sister)

Kevin McCarthy (February 15, 1914 – September 11, 2010) [1] was an American stage, film and television actor remembered as the male lead in the horror science fiction film Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956). [2]


Following several television guest roles, McCarthy gave his first credited film performance in Death of a Salesman (1951), portraying Biff Loman to Fredric March's Willy Loman. The role earned him a Golden Globe Award [3] and a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. [4] [5]

Early life

McCarthy was born in Seattle, Washington, the son of Roy Winfield McCarthy and Martha Therese (née Preston). [6] His father was descended from a wealthy Irish American family based in Minnesota. His mother was born in Washington State to a Protestant father and a non-observant Jewish mother; McCarthy's mother converted to Roman Catholicism before her marriage. [7] He was the brother of author Mary McCarthy, and a distant cousin of U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Eugene McCarthy of Minnesota. His parents both died in the 1918 flu pandemic, and the four children went to live with relatives in Minneapolis. After five years of near-Dickensian mistreatment, described in Mary McCarthy's memoirs, the children were separated: Mary lived with their maternal grandparents, and Kevin and his younger brothers were raised by relatives in Minneapolis. [2] McCarthy graduated in 1932 from Campion High School in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, [8] then attended the University of Minnesota, where he appeared in his first play, Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part 1 , and discovered a love of acting.


Early career and military service

During his service in World War II in the United States Army Air Forces, in addition to his acting career, McCarthy appeared in a number of training films. At least one of these films (covering the Boeing B-17), has been distributed on DVD. McCarthy was a founding member of The Actors Studio. [9]

Breakthrough in film

McCarthy's breakthrough role was in Death of a Salesman (1951) portraying Biff Loman to Fredric March's Willy Loman. He had first performed the role in the London theatrical debut and was the only member of that ensemble to be cast in László Benedek's film adaptation. He received good notices for his onscreen work, receiving the Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year – Actor and a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.


McCarthy in Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) Kevin McCarthy in Invasion of the Body Snatchers trailer.jpg
McCarthy in Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

His starring roles include the lead in the science fiction film classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), which remains the film for which he is most widely known.[ opinion ][ citation needed ] On television, he starred the short-lived series The Survivors (1969) with Lana Turner. He also appeared as a guest star in many television programs, playing a wide variety of character roles.

McCarthy appeared with Alexis Smith in the NBC anthology series The Joseph Cotten Show in the episode "We Who Love Her" (1956). He was cast in an episode of the religion anthology series Crossroads . McCarthy appeared in the 1959 episode "The Wall Between" of CBS's The DuPont Show with June Allyson . He guest-starred in a classic episode of CBS's The Twilight Zone entitled "Long Live Walter Jameson" (1960) as the title character.

McCarthy made two appearances on The Rifleman , starring Chuck Connors and Johnny Crawford. He portrayed the historical Mark Twain in "The Shattered Idol" (episode 120; original air date: December 4, 1961) and Winslow Quince in "Suspicion" (episode 157; original air date: January 14, 1963). The Rifleman – Season 4 Episodes The Rifleman – Suspicion, Episode 157, Season 5

In 1963, McCarthy appeared in the ABC medical drama Breaking Point in the episode titled "Fire and Ice". He guest starred in the ABC drama Going My Way , about the Roman Catholic priesthood in New York City. He was cast as well in a 1964 episode of James Franciscus's NBC education drama Mr. Novak . In 1966, he appeared in the episode "Wife Killer" of the ABC adventure series The Fugitive . In 1967, he guest starred in the episode "Never Chase a Rainbow" of NBC's western series The Road West , starring Barry Sullivan. Also that year, he guest-starred in the episode "The Watchers" on the television series The Invaders.

In 1968, McCarthy guest starred on Hawaii Five-O in the episode "Full Fathom Five" as the chief antagonist, Victor Reese. He appeared as Maj. Gen Kroll in "The Night of the Doomsday Formula" in season 4 of The Wild Wild West . [10] In 1971, he guest-starred in the "Conqueror's Gold" episode of Bearcats! , which starred Rod Taylor, with whom McCarthy had appeared in the films A Gathering of Eagles , Hotel , and The Hell With Heroes .


In 1976, McCarthy starred in the Broadway play Poor Murderer . In 1977, he and Clu Gulager, previously cast with Barry Sullivan on NBC's The Tall Man , appeared in the episode "The Army Deserter" of the NBC western series The Oregon Trail with Rod Taylor. In 1978, McCarthy played a cameo role in a remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers as a man running through the streets shouting a warning in the same manner as his character did in the original 1956 film. He appeared in NBC's Flamingo Road (1980–1982) as Claude Weldon, father of Morgan Fairchild's character. McCarthy appeared as Judge Crandall in The Midnight Hour , a 1985 comedy/horror television movie. Also that year, he guest-starred in a fourth-season episode of The A-Team called "Members Only".

McCarthy was one of four actors (with Dick Miller, Belinda Balaski and Robert Picardo) often cast by director Joe Dante. McCarthy's most notable role in Dante's films was in 1987 as the prime antagonist, Victor Scrimshaw, in Innerspace . They also were in Dante's Matinee .

In 1996, he played Gordon Fitzpatrick in The Pandora Directive , a full-motion video (FMV) adventure game starring Tex Murphy.

21st century

In 2007, McCarthy appeared as himself in the Anthony Hopkins film Slipstream, which made references to McCarthy's film Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

On October 24, 2009, McCarthy was honored at the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival. [11]

His last role in a feature-length movie was as The Grand Inquisitor in the sci-fi musical comedy The Ghastly Love of Johnny X (2012).

Personal life

McCarthy was married to Augusta Dabney, with whom he had three children, from 1941 until their divorce in 1961. In 1979, he married Kate Crane, who survived him. The couple had two children. [2]

From 1942, McCarthy and his wife Augusta Dabney had a close friendship with actor Montgomery Clift. McCarthy and Clift were cast in a play together, Ramon Naya's Mexican Mural. They became best friends, acted together in several more projects, and were believed by some prominent individuals, including Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote [12] and George Whitmore, [13] to have been lovers. They also collaborated on a screenplay for a film adaptation of the Tennessee Williams/Donald Windham play You Touched Me!, but it never came to fruition. [14] [15]

McCarthy died of pneumonia on September 11, 2010, at Cape Cod Hospital in Massachusetts at the age of 96. [16]

Selected filmography

Radio appearances

1952 Theatre Guild on the Air The Damask Check [17]
1953Radio PlayhouseRoutine Assignment [18]

See also

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  2. 1 2 3 Gates, Anita (September 12, 2010). "Kevin McCarthy, Actor, Dies at 96". The New York Times . Retrieved September 13, 2010.
  3. "Kevin McCarthy". Hollywood Foreign Press Association . Retrieved December 18, 2017.
  4. "THE 24TH ACADEMY AWARDS – 1952". Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences . Retrieved December 18, 2017.
  5. Bosworth, Patricia (March 1, 1978). Montgomery Clift: A Biography (1st ed.). Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. p. 225. ISBN   978-0-15-162123-1.
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  8. "Campion Graduate Notables..." Retrieved April 26, 2015.
  9. Garfield, David (1980). "Birth of The Actors Studio: 1947–1950". A Player's Place: The Story of the Actors Studio . New York: MacMillan Publishing Co., Inc. p. 52. ISBN   978-0-02-542650-4. Lewis' class included Herbert Berghof, Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift, Mildred Dunnock, Tom Ewell, John Forsythe, Anne Jackson, Sidney Lumet, Kevin McCarthy, Karl Malden, E.G. Marshall, Patricia Neal, William Redfield, Jerome Robbins, Maureen Stapleton, Beatrice Straight, Eli Wallach, and David Wayne.
  10. The Night of the Doomsday Formula at IMDb
  11. Mandelberger, Sandy (October 23, 2009). "Kevin McCarthy To Be Honored At FLIFF". Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival. Retrieved September 28, 2017.
  12. Grobel, Lawrence (February 1, 1985). Conversations with Truman Capote . Dutton. p. 164. ISBN   9780453004947.
  13. Leyland, Winston (1978). Gay Sunshine Interviews . Vol. 1. San Francisco: Gay Sunshine Press. p. 324. ISBN   978-0-917342-61-5.
  14. Hanks, Tara (September 20, 2010). "'That Orphan Charm': Marilyn and Kevin McCarthy". Retrieved July 27, 2019.
  15. Montgomery Clift papers, Additions, *T-Mss 1967-006. Billy Rose Theatre Division, The New York Public Library.
  16. BBC News (September 13, 2010). "Invasion of the Body Snatchers actor dies aged 96". BBC News. Retrieved July 27, 2019.
  17. Kirby, Walter (December 7, 1952). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review . p. 52. Retrieved June 14, 2015 via Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
  18. Kirby, Walter (October 11, 1953). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 50. Retrieved July 6, 2015 via Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg