Philip Carey dies at 83; costarred in 'Laredo' and had long-running role on 'One Life to Live'
By By Dennis McLellan
Feb 10, 2009 | 12:00 AM
Philip Carey, the ruggedly handsome veteran actor who costarred in the 1960s TV western "Laredo" and more recently played the long-running role of a bigger-than-life Texas tycoon on the ABC soap opera "One Life to Live," has died. He was 83.
Carey, who also was known in Southern California in the 1960s for his tongue-in-cheek series of commercials for Granny Goose potato chips, died Friday at his home in New York City after a battle with lung cancer, said Lauri Hogan, publicity director for "One Life to Live."
The tall, deep-voiced actor began playing Asa Buchanan, the strong-willed Buchanan family patriarch who could be ruthless in business and would do whatever he had to do to protect his family, in 1980.
Carey was diagnosed with lung cancer in early 2006, said Hogan. He took a leave of absence from "One Life to Live" to undergo treatment and returned to the show later that year.
Carey's tycoon character died in his sleep in an August 2007 episode but was brought back twice in video wills and appeared on the show's 40th anniversary episodes in July 2008; Carey's last appearance was on Dec. 29.
"One Life to Live" cast member Erika Slezak said she was "incredibly fond" of Carey.
"He was a central figure on the show and to everyone at 'One Life to Live,' " she said in a statement. "When Phil was in the building, you knew it. He will be sorely missed."
Robert S. Woods, who played Carey's on-screen son, Bo Buchanan, said in a statement that Carey had been "like a father to me."
"I don't know if I could love him more if he was my dad," Woods said.
A former studio contract player in Hollywood in the 1950s, Carey made his film debut in a supporting role in the 1951 John Wayne war drama "Operation Pacific."
Under contract to Warner Bros. and then to Columbia Pictures over the next several years, he appeared in films such as "I Was a Communist for the FBI," "Springfield Rifle," "Calamity Jane," "The Long Gray Line" and "Mister Roberts."
Carey also starred in films such as "The Nebraskan," "Massacre Canyon" and "The Outlaw Stallion."
On television, he costarred in "Tales of the 77th Bengal Lancers," a 1956-57 NBC adventure series set in India in the late 19th century. He starred in "Philip Marlowe," a 1959-60 ABC detective drama. And he co-starred in "Laredo" on NBC from 1965 to '67.
At the same time Carey was playing Texas Ranger Capt. Edward Parmalee on "Laredo," Southern California TV viewers were watching him in his memorably humorous series of commercials for Granny Goose Potato Chips.
As noted on the TV Acres website, Carey's "main assignment in each TV spot was rescuing a beautiful woman caught in the middle of a treacherous situation.
"Just as it seemed the heroine was a goner, in popped our hero with the silly line, 'You may not believe this . . . but my name is Granny Goose.' "
Over the years, Carey made guest appearances on TV series such as "The Ford Television Theatre," "The Rifleman," "Cheyenne," "The Gallant Men," "77 Sunset Strip," "Felony Squad" and "All in the Family."
Born Eugene Joseph Carey on July 15, 1925, in Hackensack, N.J., he grew up in the suburban Long Island towns of Rosedale and Malverne.
He served in the Marine Corps during World War II and was wounded when the aircraft carrier Franklin was attacked off the Japanese coast in 1945 and hundreds of crew members were killed. He also served in the Korean War.
He studied drama at the University of Miami and was appearing in summer stock back on Long Island when he got his big break: A Warner Bros. talent scout asked him to audition for the role in "Operation Pacific."
"They flew me out to the coast," Carey said in a 1994 interview with the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, recalling the long flight on the relatively slow planes of the era.
"They were going to be seeing several other actors for the part," he said. "I was on the set with these other guys and suddenly I see John Wayne. He took one look at me and said, 'You look tired . . . Here's my dressing room -- go take a nap.' I did. After we did the scene, Wayne says to me, 'You got the part, kid.' "
Carey is survived by his wife, Colleen, and their two children, Shannon and Sean; and his three children from a previous marriage, Lisa, Linda and Jeff. He is also survived by three grandchildren.