Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures
Tres Hijos del Diablo (3 Godfathers)
Co-starring Harry Carey Jr.

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Mexican lobby card for "Tres Hijos del Diablo" (U.S. title: "3 Godfathers), 1948. Standard Mexican lobby card size, 12½x16½ inches.

We really don't know why the Mexican release was titled "Three Sons of the Devil," considering it's really a Christmas movie. It's about three bad guys finding redemption when, at great personal sacrifice and even in death, they place the life of a babe in swaddling clothes above their own. ("Three godfathers" in Spanish is "tres padrinos.") The tagline on this lobby card doesn't give justice to the plot: "Profugos de la justicia tres bandoleros buscan refugio en las candentes arenas del desierto, donde la muerte acecha a cada instante" (Fugitives from justice, three bandits seek refuge in the burning sands of the desert, where death lurks at every moment).

Filmed on location in Death Valley, the Owens Valley (including the Alambama Hills) and at the RKO ranch in Encino, "3 Godfathers" (Argosy Pictures/MGM 1948) was directed by John Ford and stars John Wayne, Pedro Armendariz and the SCV's own Harry Carey Jr. It was released Dec. 1, 1948, in the United States (a Christmas release), and we don't know the exact release date in Mexico.

About Harry Carey Jr. in "3 Godfathers"

"3 Godfathers" was the first of nine films Saugus native Harry Carey Jr. (aka Dobe) would make with director John Ford. Dobe's dad, Harry Carey Sr., had starred in 26 John Ford Westerns[1]. Senior died in September 1947; "3 Godfathers" started shooting in late May 1948, and Ford would dedicate the film "To the memory of Harry Carey / Bright star of the Western sky."

Dobe devotes an entire chapter to "3 Godfathers" in his 1994 autobiography, "Company of Heroes: My Life as an Actor in the John Ford Stock Company," and you really have to read it to get a complete picture of the interplay among Ford (whom Dobe calls "Uncle Jack") and the leading actors — 41-year-old John Wayne; Mexican film star Pedro Armendariz, 36; and Dobe, 27.

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Principal location filming was done in Death Valley. Cast and crew lodged at the Furnace Creek Inn. Studio filming was done at RKO Pathé Studios on Washington Boulevard in Culver City.

Dobe had sung once before on camera — part of a cowboy song in the Howard Hawks film he's just completed, "Red River" (1948). Now, Ford wanted him to sing "Streets of Laredo" to the ersatz Christ child. That was the plot: Three outlaws come across a dying woman in the desert and vow to save her baby, and in the process they redeem themselves.

Burl Ives had taught Dobe the first and last verses of "Streets of Laredo" in 1940.[2] Dobe sings it softly as a lullaby to the "baby," which he describes as a "pretty worn-out" doll. "It was hard to keep believing this doll was really alive," Dobe writes, "and it was doubly hard to keep the top of its head from being exposed to the camera."

Dobe's death scene was shot at the Devil's Golf Course — not an actual golf course but a large salt pan on the floor of Death Valley, more than 270 feet below sea level and 126 degrees under Ford's beach umbrella. Dobe delivered what he thought was a fantastic performance. Ford wasn't happy. Ford, who never liked to do more than one take, demanded a retake — but not before he made Dobe lie in the sun and think about it for a while.

On Ford's orders,

...everybody walked away, way back to where the location trucks were parked. I lay there, squinting up at the bright sky. My mouth got so dry I couldn't swallow. My back was on fire. That salt flat was so hot I felt I was in a frying pan. I was there about 30 minutes, and by then, I didn't care if I did die, but I still wanted to be very good for him! There we were, just me and the camera. It looked lonesome. They must have unloaded it. At 130 degrees, the film would melt into a glob.

Finally — finally, here they came back ... [Quoting Ford:] "Okay, okay, let's get this thing over with." He leaned over me. "How do you feel now, huh? How do you feel now, kid? Are you going to play the goddamn scene, or are you going to chicken out on me? Maybe it would be better just to say, the hell with it, and send you home, eh?" He kicked me on the hip with the side of his foot, just to get my attention. He yelled out, "Quiet on the set! This will be picture!" He was enjoying himself. "Everybody ready? We are rolling!"

The voice of the soundman, "Speed."

Ford: "Action!"

At last. It wasn't me talking. I heard a voice I'd never heard before, the voice of a dying young man. Who was this? It was like I was outside myself. The broken sentences went on, one after the other, until the last, "God bless Momma and Poppa, and make me a good boy. Amen."

It was over. Duke [Wayne] lifted me to my feet. He had his arms around me, holding me up. Ford took my face in his hands. He was smiling. "Why didn't you do that the first time? See how easy it was? You done Good! That's a wrap!"

I wandered around, delirious, until Pete [Armendariz] pointed me to the station wagon. I knew I had passed the test. From now on, it would be different.

1. SCVTV "Newsmaker of the Week" interview with Harry Carey Jr., Nov. 3, 2005.

2. "Company of Heroes," op. cit. (Subsequent quotes ibid.)

About Harry Carey Jr.

[Adapted from]: A Western character actor, Harry Carey Jr. is the son of early Western star Harry Carey Sr. and actress Olive Carey. He was born May 16, 1921, on his parents' ranch in San Francisquito Canyon (Saugus). He was nicknamed "Dobe" when he was a few hours old because his red hair reminded his father of the red soil in the area that was used to make adobe bricks. His sister, Ella, came along two years later (Nov. 16, 1923) and was nicknamed "Cappy" because her father, Harry Sr., was "captain" of his boat, the Ella Ada.

Dobe and Cappy attended Newhall School when it was on Lyons Avenue near Newhall Avenue. As children they got to know some of the regular visitors to the Saugus ranch, such as actor William S. Hart, humorist-actor Will Rogers, painter Charles Russell and their parents' good friend, director John Ford — who was at the ranch the day Dobe was born.

Dobe went to high school at Black Foxe Military Institute in Hollywood with the sons of other Hollywood personalities. As a young man he yearned to be a singer. While taking voice lessons in New York City in 1939 he got his first paying job at the New York World's Fair in the show, "Railroads on Parade" — not as a singer, but as a horseback rider, something he learned to do with great skill on the Saugus ranch. In 1941 he was hired by NBC as a page boy and then entered in the Navy. He shipped out but was quickly recalled to Washington by John Ford, who was working for the OSS — the predecessor to the CIA. Under Ford's "direction," Dobe developed Allied and captured German spy film for the war effort. In 1944, while still in the Navy, Dobe married Marilyn Fix, the daughter of actor Paul Fix. She would remain his lifelong companion and gave him four children.

In 1946, Dobe followed his father into the motion picture business, landing a role in a "B" movie, "Rolling Home." Next came a featured role in Raoul Walsh's "Pursued," and he was on his way. In 1947 he made his first of 11 films with John Wayne, appearing in the Howard Hawks classic, "Red River." Harry Sr. appeared in the film, as well, although they did not appear on camera together. Senior never saw it; it was released posthumously in 1948.

In that year Ford remade "3 Godfathers," which he had made in 1919 with Harry Sr. This time Junior shared the lead (and sang) with Duke Wayne and Mexican box-office sensation Pedro Armendariz. It was his first of nine films as a member of the John Ford Stock Company — the others being "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon," "Wagonmaster," "Rio Grande" (in which he did some Roman riding, standing on two horses while galloping through Monument Valley), "The Searchers," "Two Rode Together," "The Long Gray Line," "Mister Roberts" and "Cheyenne Autumn."

Harry Carey Jr. appeared in nearly 100 films and hundreds of television episodes, including numerous appearances in the Mickey Mouse Club series "The Adventures of Spin and Marty" (shot on the Walt Disney Co.'s Golden Oak Ranch in Placerita Canyon), "Gunsmoke" (early episodes shot on Gene Autry's Melody Ranch in Placerita Canyon), "Rawhide" (ditto) and others. He has made two documentaries, "Legends of the American West" and "John Ford's America" and is the author of the book, "Company of Heroes: My Life As an Actor in the John Ford Stock Company," available in hard- and softcover editions. Dobe and Marilyn — and Cappy — live in Santa Barbara.

Update: Dobe died Dec. 28, 2012.

Further reading: Harry Carey Ranch: Historic American Buildings Survey No. CA-2712.


Last Stand at Saber River (1997) (TV) ... James Sanford

Ben Johnson: Third Cowboy on the Right (1996) ... Himself

Sunchaser, The (1996) ... Cashier

Wyatt Earp: Return to Tombstone (1994)

Tombstone (1993) ... Tombstone Marshall Fred White

Exorcist III, The (1990) ... Father Kanavan

Back to the Future Part III (1990) ... Saloon Old Timer #2

Bad Jim (1990) ... J.C. Lee

John Ford (1990) (TV) ... Himself

Breaking In (1989) (as Harry Carey) ... Shoes

Once Upon a Texas Train (1988) (TV) (as Harry Carey) ... Herald Pitch

Illegally Yours (1988) ... Wally Finnegan

Cherry 2000 (1987) ... Snappy Tom

Whales of August, The (1987) ... Joshua Brackett

Crossroads (1986) ... Bartender

Adventures of William Tell (1986) (TV) ... Mutino

Mask (1985) ... Red

Gremlins (1984) ... Mr. Anderson

Princess Daisy (1983) (TV)

Shadow Riders, The (1982) (TV) ... Pa Traven

Endangered Species (1982) ... Dr. Emmer

Long Riders, The (1980) ... George Arthur

Wild Times (1980) (TV) ... Fitz Bragg

UFOria (1980) ... George Martin

Kate Bliss and the Ticker Tape Kid (1978) (TV) ... Deputy Luke

"Black Beauty" (1978) (mini) (TV Series) ... Mr. Bond

Nickelodeon (1976) ... Dobe

Take a Hard Ride (1975) ... Dumper

Challenge to White Fang (1974) ... Tarwater

Cahill U.S. Marshal (1973) ... Hank

Man From The East (1972) (Italy)

Run, Cougar, Run (1972)

Trinity Is STILL My Name! (1972) (USA/Italy)

Big Jake (1971) (as Harry Cary Jr.) ... Pop Dawson

One More Train to Rob (1971) ... Red

Something Big (1971) ... Joe Pickins

Moonshine War, The (1970) ... Arley Stamper

Dirty Dingus Magee (1970) ... Charles Stuart

One More Time (1970)

Undefeated, The (1969) ... Soloman Webster, Thomas Rider

Death of a Gunfighter (1969) ... Reverend Rork

Bandolero! (1968) (as Harry Carey) ... Cort Hayjack

Devil's Brigade, The (1968) ... Captain Rose

Way West, The (1967) ... Mr. McBee

Ballad of Josie, The (1967) ... Mooney, Meredith's Foreman

Rare Breed, The (1966) ... Ed Mabry

Alvarez Kelly (1966) ... Corporal Peterson

Billy the Kid versus Dracula (1966) ... Ben Dooley, wagonmaster

Cyborg 2087 (1966) ... Jay C

Shenandoah (1965) ... Rebel Soldier

Taggart (1965) ... Lt. Hudson

Cheyenne Autumn (1964) (uncredited) ... Trooper Smith

Raiders, The (1963) ... Jellicoe Flashing

Spikes (1962) (TV) ... Player in dugout

Public Affair, A (1962) ... Bill Martin

Two Rode Together (1961) ... Ortho Clegg

Noose for a Gunman (1960) ... Jim Ferguson

Great Impostor, The (1960) ... Dr. Joseph Mornay

Rio Bravo (1959) ... Harold (Final scene was cut but Screen Credit remained on print)

Gundown at Sandoval (1959)

Escort West (1958) ... Travis

"Texas John Slaughter" (1958) (TV Series) ... Ben Jenkins

From Hell to Texas (1958) ... Trueblood

"New Adventures of Spin and Marty, The" (1958) (TV Series) ... Bill Burnett

River's Edge, The (1957) ... Chet

"Further Adventures of Spin and Marty, The" (1957) (TV Series) ... Bill Burnett

Kiss Them for Me (1957) (uncredited)

Gun the Man Down (1956) ... Deputy Lee

Great Locomotive Chase, The (1956) ... William Bensinger

Searchers, The (1956) ... Brad Jorgensen

7th Cavalry (1956) ... Corporal Morrison

House of Bamboo (1955) (uncredited) ... John

Mister Roberts (1955) ... Stefanowski

Long Gray Line, The (1955) ... Dwight Eisenhower

"Spin and Marty" (1955) (TV Series) ... Bill Burnett

Spin and Marty: The Movie (1955) ... Bill Burnett

Outcast, The (1954) ... Bert

Silver Lode (1954) ... Johnson

Island in the Sky (1953) ... Hunt

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) (uncredited) ... Sims

Sweethearts on Parade (1953) ... Jim Riley

San Antone (1953) ... Dobe Frakus

Niagara (1953) (uncredited) ... Taxi Driver

Beneath the 12-Mile Reef (1953) ... Griff

Monkey Business (1952) (uncredited) ... Reporter

Wild Blue Yonder, The (1951) ... Sergeant Shaker Schuker

Warpath (1951) ... Captain Gregson

Rio Grande (1950) ... Trooper Daniel 'Sandy' Boone

Wagon Master (1950) ... Sandy

Copper Canyon (1950) ... Lt. Ord

She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949) ... Lt. Ross Pennell

3 Godfathers (1948) ... William Kearney, 'The Abilene Kid'

Moonrise (1948) ... Jimmy Biff

Red River (1948) ... Dan Latimer

Blood on the Moon (1948) (uncredited) ... Cowboy

Pursued (1947) ... Prentice McComber

Rolling Home (1946) (uncredited)

———Notable TV guest appearances———

"B.L. Stryker" (1989) ... in episode: "Auntie Sue" (episode #1.4) 4/17/1989

"Knight Rider" (1982) playing "Josh Morgan" ... in episode: "Not a Drop to Drink" (episode #1.7) 11/5/1982

"CHiPs" (1977) playing "Grandfather Criss" ... in episode: "Flare Up" (episode #5.20) 3/7/1982

"Little House on the Prairie" (1974) playing "sheriff Pike" ... in episode: "New Beginning, A" (episode #7.3) 10/6/1980

"B.J. and the Bear" (1979) ... in episode: "Fire In The Hole"

"Gunsmoke" (1955) playing "Amos Brody" ... in episode: "Trail of Bloodshed" (episode #19.21) 3/4/1974

"Doc Elliot" (1973) ... in episode: "Runner, The" (episode #1.6) 2/13/1974

"Banacek" (1972) playing "Dean Barrett" ... in episode: "Horse of a Slightly Different Color" (episode #2.5) 1/22/1974

"Gunsmoke" (1955) playing "Kelliher" ... in episode: "Gold Train: The Bullet: Part 3" (episode #17.14) 12/13/1971

"Gunsmoke" (1955) playing "Kelliher" ... in episode: "Gold Train: The Bullet: Part 2" (episode #17.13) 12/6/1971

"Gunsmoke" (1955) playing "Kelliher" ... in episode: "Gold Train: The Bullet: Part 1" (episode #17.12) 11/29/1971

"Gunsmoke" (1955) playing "Will Roniger" ... in episode: "Lost, The" (episode #17.1) 9/13/1971

"Virginian, The" (1962) playing "Thad" ... in episode: "Follow the Leader" (episode #9.11) 12/2/1970

"Mannix" (1967) ... in episode: "Missing: Sun and Sky" (episode #3.12) 12/20/1969

"Outcasts, The" (1968) ... in episode: "Thin Edge, The" (episode #1.17) 2/17/1969

"Gunsmoke" (1955) playing "Nathan Cade" ... in episode: "Waco" (episode #14.11) 12/9/1968

"Cimarron Strip" (1967) ... in episode: "Sound of a Drum" (episode #1.19) 2/1/1968

"Gunsmoke" (1955) playing "Will Roniger" ... in episode: "Baker's Dozen" (episode #13.15) 12/25/1967

"Bonanza" (1959) ... in episode: "Judgment at Red Creek" (episode #8.24) 2/26/1967

"Rounders, The" (1966) ... in episode: "Horse On Jim Ed Love, A" (episode #1.1) 9/6/1966

"Legend of Jesse James, The" (1965) ... in episode: "Celebrity, The" (episode #1.12) 12/6/1965

"Gunsmoke" (1955) ... in episode: "Bank Baby" (episode #10.26) 3/20/1965

"Branded" (1965) ... in episode: "Vindicator, The" (episode #1.2) 1/31/1965

"Redigo" (1963) ... in episode: "Man in a Blackout" (episode #1.7) 11/5/1963

"Wagon Train" (1957) playing "John Jay Burroughs" ... in episode: "Sam Pulaski Story, The" (episode #7.8) 11/4/1963

"Wagon Train" (1957) playing "Charlie Hankins" ... in episode: "Molly Kincaid Story, The" (episode #7.1) 9/16/1963

"Stoney Burke" (1962) ... in episode: "Tigress by the Tail" (episode #1.30) 5/6/1963

"Laramie" (1959) ... in episode: "Time of the Traitor" (episode #4.11) 12/11/1962

"Gunsmoke" (1955) playing "Jake" ... in episode: "Abe Blocker" (episode #8.11) 11/24/1962

"Laramie" (1959) ... in episode: "Lost Allegiance" (episode #4.6) 10/30/1962

"Gunsmoke" (1955) playing "Jim Grant" ... in episode: "Quint Asper Comes Home" (episode #8.3) 9/29/1962

"Checkmate" (1960) playing "Phil Cassidy" ... in episode: "Bold and the Tough, The" (episode #2.32) 5/16/1962

"Frontier Circus" (1961) ... in episode: "Race, The" (episode #1.24) 5/3/1962

"Lawman" (1958) playing "Mitch Evers" ... in episode: "Cort" (episode #4.33) 4/29/1962

"Wagon Train" (1957) ... in episode: "George B. Hanrahan Story, The" (episode #5.26) 3/28/1962

"Rawhide" (1959) ... in episode: "Deserter's Patrol" (episode #4.18) 2/9/1962

"Laramie" (1959) ... in episode: "Barefoot Kid, The" (episode #3.15) 1/9/1962

"Perry Mason" (1957) playing "Frank Deane" ... in episode: "Case of the Roving River, The" (episode #5.15) 12/30/1961

"Rifleman, The" (1958) playing "Lt. Bond" ... in episode: "Journey Back, The" (episode #4.5) 10/30/1961

"Whispering Smith" (1961) ... in episode: "Safety Value" (episode #1.5) 6/5/1961

"Laramie" (1959) playing "Harry Markle" ... in episode: "Debt, The" (episode #2.25) 4/18/1961

"Gunsmoke" (1955) playing "Turloe" ... in episode: "Bad Sheriff" (episode #6.17) 1/7/1961

"Tall Man, The" (1960) ... in episode: "One of One Thousand" (episode #1.16) 12/31/1960

"Bonanza" (1959) ... in episode: "Mission, The" (episode #2.2) 9/17/1960

"Overland Trail" (1960) ... in episode: "Sour Annie" (episode #1.13) 5/8/1960

"Hotel de Paree" (1959) ... in episode: "Sundance and the Long Trek" (episode #1.26) 4/22/1960

"Rifleman, The" (1958) playing "Lt. Paul Rolfe" ... in episode: "Deserter, The" (episode #2.25) 3/15/1960

"Tombstone Territory" (1957) ... in episode: "Holcomb Brothers" (episode #3.22) 3/4/1960

"Rawhide" (1959) ... in episode: "Incident of the Shambling Man" (episode #2.3) 10/9/1959

"Gunsmoke" (1955) playing "Deesha" ... in episode: "Horse Deal" (episode #5.3) 9/26/1959

"Wagon Train" (1957) ... in episode: "Chuck Wooster, Wagonmaster" (episode #2.33) 5/20/1959

"Have Gun Will Travel" (1957) ... in episode: "Road to Wickenberg, The" (episode #2.7) 10/25/1958

"Have Gun Will Travel" (1957) ... in episode: "Gentleman, The" (episode #2.3) 9/27/1958

"Broken Arrow" (1956) ... in episode: "Blood Brothers" (episode #2.33) 5/13/1958

"Lone Ranger, The" (1949) playing "Dice Dawson, alias Jay Thomason" ... in episode: "Return of Dice Dawson" (episode #4.44) 7/14/1955

LW2699: 19200 dpi jpeg from original lobby card purchased 2014 by Leon Worden.

• Harry Carey Jr. Photo Collection
• Harry Carey Ranch
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