Kevin McCarthy (actor)

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Kevin McCarthy
Kevin McCarthy 1.jpg
Kevin McCarthy in 2000
Born(1914-02-15)February 15, 1914
DiedSeptember 11, 2010(2010-09-11) (aged 96)
Alma materUniversity of Minnesota
Years active1937–2010
  • (m. 1941; div. 1961)
  • Kate Crane
    (m. 1979⁠–⁠2010)
RelativesMary McCarthy (sister)

Kevin McCarthy (February 15, 1914 – September 11, 2010)[1] was an American stage, film and television actor. He is best remembered for portraying 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]

Life and career[edit]

Kevin McCarthy was born in Seattle, Washington, the son of Roy Winfield McCarthy and Martha Therese (née Preston).[6] McCarthy's 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 nonobservant 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.

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]

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.

His starring roles include the lead in the science fiction film classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956). On television, he had starred in two short-lived series: The Survivors (1969) with Lana Turner; and NBC's Flamingo Road (1980–1982) as Claude Weldon, father of Morgan Fairchild's character. He also appeared as a guest star in countless 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. The Wild Wild West (CBS) Season 4 (1968–69). 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. 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 1989, he played television station owner R.J. Fletcher in Weird Al Yankovic's film UHF. Yankovic noted that "Kevin McCarthy was terrific. We had set him up to be this really rotten bad guy; but every time the director said, 'CUT!,' (Kevin) McCarthy would burst out laughing."[citation needed]

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

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 in Florida.[10]

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[edit]

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. The two became best friends, acted together in several more projects, and were believed by some prominent individuals, including Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote[11] and George Whitmore,[12] 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 the project never came to fruition.[13][14]

McCarthy died of pneumonia on September 11, 2010 at Cape Cod Hospital in Massachusetts at the age of ninety-six.[15]

Selected filmography[edit]

Radio appearances[edit]

Year Program Episode/source
1952 Theatre Guild on the Air The Damask Check[16]
1953 Radio Playhouse Routine Assignment[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ McLellan, Dennis (February 15, 1914). "Kevin McCarthy obituary: 'Body Snatchers' actor McCarthy dies". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 12, 2010.
  2. ^ a b c 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 978-0151621231.
  6. ^ "Kevin McCarthy Biography (1914-)". film reference. Retrieved April 26, 2015.
  7. ^ "Mary McCarthy, age 11, returns to Seattle to live with her maternal grandparents in 1923". Retrieved September 12, 2010.
  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 978-0025426504. 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. ^ Mandelberger, Sandy (October 23, 2009). "Kevin McCarthy To Be Honored At FLIFF". Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival. Retrieved September 28, 2017.
  11. ^ Grobel, Lawrence (February 1, 1985). Conversations with Truman Capote. Dutton. p. 164.
  12. ^ Leyland, Winston (1978). Gay Sunshine Interviews. 1. San Francisco: Gay Sunshine Press. p. 324. ISBN 978-0917342615.
  13. ^ Hanks, Tara (September 20, 2010). "'That Orphan Charm': Marilyn and Kevin McCarthy". Retrieved July 27, 2019.
  14. ^ Montgomery Clift papers, Additions, *T-Mss 1967-006. Billy Rose Theatre Division, The New York Public Library.
  15. ^ BBC News (September 13, 2010). "Invasion of the Body Snatchers actor dies aged 96". BBC News. Retrieved July 27, 2019.
  16. ^ Kirby, Walter (December 7, 1952). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 52. Retrieved June 14, 2015 – via open access
  17. ^ Kirby, Walter (October 11, 1953). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 50. Retrieved July 6, 2015 – via open access

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