Lobby Card: The SCV's own Harry Carey Sr. looks amused as Duncan Renaldo ravishes Edwina Booth in "Trader Horn" (MGM 1931).
"Trader Horn" was an Irving Thalberg vanity project that took Saugus residents Harry Carey Sr. (the title character) and wife Olive Fuller Golden — with their kids, Harry Jr. (Dobe) and Ella (Cappy) in tow — on a protracted tour of the African jungle. It was a silent film when production started in April 1929 with 35 Americans, 192 Africans and 90 tons of equipment. It switched to sound after filming started and stretched into seven months of hell. Four million feet of film later, it hardly seemed worth the trouble — even though it became MGM's biggest hit of 1931.
"You had to fight bugs all the time," Golden said in a later interview*, remembering how almost everyone immediately contracted malaria. And that was just the beginning. One African cast member was eaten by a crocodile; another was gored to death by a rhino. The latter scene made the final cut.
Back home, Thalberg realized his director, Woodbridge Strong "W.S." Van Dyke, hadn't brought back a movie. He had managed to spend $1 million, and he had some pretty nature shots of animals and actors running around Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and the Congo, but there was nothing to string them together. So Thalberg hired writers to fix it, and Van Dyke spent the rest of 1930 patching the holes with pickup shots in Culver City.
For her part, Golden was offered $300 a day for five days of studio shooting. She held out for $1,000 a day and got it, but she never worked for Thalberg again.
There were plenty of other controversies, but the biggest centered around Constance Woodruff, a 25-year-old Utah girl who went by the stage name Edwina Booth. She contracted a "jungle disease" (probably malaria) and sued MGM for $1 million. Rumor mongers believed it a cover for a miscarriage or abortion ... the wife of costar Duncan Renaldo sued him for estrangement ... but Booth grew sicker and ultimately settled for just $35,000. Many fans believed she died, but the only thing that died was her career. Nobody would touch her. It worked out, though. She married twice, outlived both husbands, and spent her later years working at the Los Angeles Mormon Temple. She died in 1991 at age 86.
* Vieira, Mark A. "Irving Thalberg: Boy Wonder to Producer Prince." Berkeley 2010: University of California Press.
Actor Harry Carey (Sr.) acquired a homestead at the mouth of San Francisquito Canyon in 1916 and established a rancho. The ranch included the Carey's wooden ranch home
as well as several outbuildings and the Harry Carey Trading Post, which was a tourist attraction that included billed entertainment from Navajo Indians and other performers,
along with a store that sold Western and Indian curios. The ranch was occasionally used for filming. The Careys'
son, Harry Carey Jr. (Dobe), who would follow in his father's acting footsteps, was born in the Carey ranch home in 1921.
The trading post washed away in the St. Francis Dam disaster of March 1928 and was not rebuilt. The Indians left about a month earlier. According to Dobe,
a shaman saw "a big crack and predicted it would break." The ranch house was situated at a higher
elevation and survived the flood, only to burn down in 1932. The Careys replaced it by building a Spanish adobe home, which they sold with the
rancho in 1945.
Harry Carey was born Henry DeWitt Carey II on January 16, 1878 on 116th Street in the Bronx section
of New York City. His father was a special-sessions judge and president of a sewing machine company.
Harry attended a military academy but declined an appointment to West Point, instead trying his hand as a playwright.
According to the Internet Movie Database: In 1911, his friend Henry B. Walthall
introduced him to director D.W. Griffith, for whom Carey
was to make many films. Carey married twice [correx: 3 times; see here], the [third]
time to actress Olive Fuller Golden (aka Olive Carey),
who introduced him to future director John Ford. Carey influenced Universal Studios head Carl Laemmle
to use Ford as a director, and a partnership was born that lasted until a rift in the friendship in 1921.
During this time, Carey grew into one of the most popular Western stars of the early motion picture,
occasionally writing and directing films as well. In the 1930s he moved slowly into character roles
and was nominated for an Oscar for one of them, the president of the Senate in "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington"
(1939). He worked once more with Ford, in "The Prisoner of Shark Island" (1936), and appeared
once with his son, Harry Carey Jr., in Howard Hawks' "Red River" (1948).
He died Sept. 21, 1947,
in Brentwood, after a protracted bout with emphysema and cancer. Ford dedicated his remake "3 Godfathers"
(1948) "To Harry Carey — Bright Star Of The Early Western Sky."
Carey would appear in at least 233 films, including short features, between 1909 and 1949.
Further reading: Harry Carey Ranch: Historic American Buildings Survey No. CA-2712.
LW3147: 9600 dpi jpeg from original lobby card purchased by Leon Worden.