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Kevin McCarthy, 1914 - 2010

Posted by Patrick Sauriol on Sunday, September 12, 2010

Throughout a career that spanned seven decades in film and television, and with over 100 roles to his name, it's still his starring role in the original 1956 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers that actor Kevin McCarthy will forever be known for. His portrayal of a doctor living in a small town that discovers most of his friends and townsfolk have been replaced by alien duplicates that hatched from pods is easily remembered, and his scene where a panic stricken McCarthy runs down a highway screaming to anyone that will listen that "You're next!" is one of the hallmarks of the golden age of sci-fi cinema.

Yesterday, at the age of 96, McCarthy passed away, in a Cape Cod hospital.

That role in a B-grade science fiction movie was the turn of fate McCarthy needed to give himself a lifelong roster of roles. Up until Invasion of the Body Snatchers McCarthy had about two dozen roles in TV and films, but it was the popular culture success of that film that turned McCarthy into an actor with a familiar but not quite A-list face. In the years following the release of Body Snatchers critics gave the movie a greater pedigree by drawing an allegory between the emotionless pod people and the red scare of Communism. Suddenly a movie about giant killer alien cucumbers from outer space became worthy of serious study and preservation, and eventually became included in the National Film Registry's archives in 1994. In 2008 Body Snatchers was lauded by the American Film Institute as one of the finest science fiction films ever made. Three remakes of the movie (which itself was based on a short story) have been made so far.

In the years after 1956 McCarthy continued to be seen across all channels and in smaller film roles. Among science fiction fans his genre status gave him credit and found him more work. Director Joe Dante embraced McCarthy and took him among his roster of frequently called upon actors, giving him roles in the original Piranha, The Howling, Innerspace, Looney Tunes: Back in Action and in Dante's segment of the 1983 Twilight Zone movie. On the tube McCarthy made guest appearances on practically every hit show between the years 1970 and 1990 including Mission: Impossible, The Love Boat, The A-Team, Fame, Hawaii Five-O, Simon and Simon, China Beach, The Colbys and The Golden Girls, to name some of them. You don't just get that much work by wanting the work, you get it by also being liked by casting agents, producers, other actors and directors. The breadth of Kevin McCarthy's résumé of work leads me to believe that he must have been a well-liked man, and a professional actors that could be relied upon to do good work.

In their obituary for him published today by The New York Times, reporter Anita Gates found an old quote offered by McCarthy to another reporter nearly 20 years ago. "I try to get as much work as I possibly can," McCarthy said back in 1991 at a spry 77 years of age. "I love to work. I love to be in things." That's perhaps the best place for an actor to be.

mckracken
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Posted: 12 years 2 weeks ago

Rest in Peace kevin... you will be missed!

nimadeb9j (not verified)
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Edit - Posted: 10 years 10 weeks ago

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