Quote of the Week

He was expelled from five schools in his native Brooklyn, the Marine Corps and nearly every job he’s tried while hitch-hiking across the country. He’s slept in vacant lots and cellars. Despite the fact he works regularly in Hollywood, he bought a four room house 25 miles away in a poor section of the city.

Plays With Cobra

“People are finally beginning to understand me,” barked Tim. “The trouble is, people in Hollywood never saw a guy like me before. They think I’m a man from another planet.”

Tim stands 6-feet-4 and has a mop of black hair hanging over his angular face. His behavior is so unruly that when I talked to him in a restaurant I often wished I was elsewhere. Carey kept jumping up to shout his answers and even demonstrated a sensual dance he does with a live cobra between pictures in little bistros downtown.

“I’ve been in and out of more jails on vagrancy charges – the police always arrest me on suspicion because I look suspicious,” said Tim.

“When I was little I had an insane desire to wear a uniform so I forged my way into the Marine Corps. My mother and father both worked – I wanted attention.

“Why are people afraid of me? One producer thought I was on dope. I don’t even drink or smoke. I’m just enthusiastic,” said Timothy Carey. “I don’t need any stimulation.”

Aline Mosby, “Carey Is Strangest, Wildest Actor”; newspaper column, March 7, 1957

Aline Mosby interview, 1957

East of Eden (1955)

 

Quote of the Week

Carey is a Brooklyn boy who never went far in high school but has acted in 16 films and six TV shows. He says: “What I really want to do is write. I’ve got a script right here, which I call L.A., that I’d like you to read.”

Carey isn’t about to quote Shakespeare but he’s living proof that “All the World’s a Stage…” He’ll say: “I joined the U.S. Marines at 15, was at Parris Island and finished boot training when they learned my age. Then I was out.”

That brief hitch with the Leathernecks was enough to entitle the unusually tall (6 feet 5 inches) Carey to go to school on the GI Bill. He elected drama school. He says: “When I got to Hollywood, I heard Henry Hathaway was casting Prince Valiant. I rented a Viking costume for $15, climbed a studio fence, confronted him with drawn sword. I didn’t get the part.”

Carey’s early penchant for such monkeyshines had him in the doghouse with half of Hollywood—but he’s acting and eating while many a more retiring youngster is waiting for a call, he says.

George Murray, “Loop Movies,” Chicago Daily News, January 15, 1958

Tim shooting AL in LA, 1956

Timothy during the unfinished A.L. shoot, 1956

Quote of the Week

Pounding the pavement of Bay Ridge in hot pursuit of his own myth, Timothy Carey’s youth presaged John Travolta’s Tony Manero (Saturday Night Fever).  Carey was born in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn in 1929 to a tightly knit Italian-Irish Catholic family. 

At age 15, Carey used his brother’s birth certificate to enlist in the Marines.  After an unsuccessful tryout for pitcher for the Boston Braves “B” team, Carey became a member of Bay Ridge’s Iron Masters Club, where he devoted much of his free time to weight lifting.  Carey’s interest in body building carried over to his acting career, where he was often used for his physicality.  His large, deft frame would spider across the screen and carry a role with little dialogue.

Carey expressed his acting “technique” plainly: “If you wanna be a good actor, go to the zoo and watch the rhino – look at the way he moves.  Watch the weasel, every part involves a new body pattern.”  This focus on the representational ran contrary to the internalized method acting of his peers.

Although Carey is often characterized as a Method actor (particularly due to his later association with John Cassavetes), he was, in fact, more likely to throw away the book, appropriate a part, and infuse it with energy.

– Alex de Laszlo, “The Wonderful Horrible Life of Timothy Carey”, Uno Mas magazine, 1996

Flight to Hong Kong

Quote of the Week

I believe I’ve posted this before, but I actually got ahold of a print version of this press release article, so here it is as it appeared in The Bay City [Michigan] Times TV TIMES, September 1, 1968. I like how Timothy mentions The World’s Greatest Sinner (1962) without naming it. Or maybe he did, and the higher-ups decided it wasn’t appropriate for family newspapers.

Article, Bay City Times, 1968

P.S. Yesterday was the busiest day ever on the blog! Welcome to all our new fans and friends! Thank you for stopping by – don’t be strangers now!

Quote of the Week

Our quote for this week comes from John Baxter‘s biography of Stanley Kubrick. It may generate some discussion. Obviously, I don’t share his low opinion of Timothy’s acting skills. I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts on this one.

On Spartacus, Kubrick’s next film, stills cameraman William Read Woodfield asked him why he cast people like Timothy Carey, “who couldn’t act at all.”

Kubrick replied, “They bring a texture to the picture that a better actor wouldn’t.”

“Are you sure, Stanley?” Woodfield pressed. “Or is it that you don’t really like good actors?”

“That may be, ” Kubrick conceded.

What could Kubrick have against good actors? It’s Woodfield’s theory, borne out by Kubrick’s later work, that he prefers performances which remove the film from reality. Given capable actors like George C. Scott or Jack Nicholson, Kubrick forced them by repeated takes to abandon naturalism for mannerism and hysteria. A protean actor like Peter Sellers, who stuffed half a dozen characters into a single film, and an abysmal one like Carey, who always played himself, gave the same distancing effect.

Kubrick had a soft spot for Carey, a New York contemporary of his, though from Brooklyn, not the Bronx. The gangling Carey bluffed his way into the Marines at fifteen and, after demobilisation, joined the thousands of dissatisfied young men milling around New York in search of artistic fulfilment. He took advantage of the GI Bill to study drama, and agent Walter Kohner got him bit parts in Billy Wilder‘s The Big Carnival [aka Ace in the Hole] and Laslo Benedek‘s The Wild One. These led to a role for Carey as the brothel bouncer Joe in Elia Kazan‘s version of East of Eden opposite James Dean.

None of this experience refined Carey’s technique, which always hovered somewhere between Elvis Presley and Lon Chaney Jr. On Paths of Glory, he could never remember to tear into his last meal of roast duck the same way twice. “Every take required an untouched duck,” says Kubrick. “I think we used up sixty-eight or so ducks before we got it right.” Kirk Douglas despised such unprofessionalism, which may have been why Kubrick insisted on flying Carey to Germany for the film. During the court-martial scene, when Douglas was making his disgust at Carey’s bad acting obvious, Kubrick whispered, “Make this a good one, ’cause Kirk doesn’t like it.”

– from Stanley Kubrick: A Biography by John Baxter (Carroll and Graf, 1997)

Quote of the Week

This week’s quote is actually a newspaper article about Tim that deserves to be reproduced in its entirety. It’s one of Mel Heimer’s My New York columns, from the Simpson’s Leader-Times of January 18, 1958.

MY NEW YORK

by Mel Heimer

I don’t want anyone out there to question my bravery ever again. I’ve just finished meeting Tim Carey and I’m still on my feet, still punching, still snarling all right, you guys, who’s next?

Timothy is this year’s Jayne Mansfield, male division. Ol’ Plain Jayne has slowed down a little now and no longer does anything short of murder to get her name in the publick printes. However, Timothy – “Hollywood’s wild man” – has taken up the slack.

He’s a big, black-haired Brooklynite of 24 [sic; he was actually pushing 29 at the time] who is, I am told, an actor. At least, he’s made pictures and currently is in Paths of Glory. Stanley Kubrick, its director, says of the wild man that he may be a clown offstage but he’s “an artistic giant” when you point the camera lens his way. Kubrick, of course, doesn’t have a detached viewpoint, so you’d better go see the picture and make up your own mind. I’ll go when I get my breath back.

“I’m in this other picture Bayou, see,” Timothy plunged in, smoothing out his Italian silk suit carefully, “and I do such a sensuous dance that it had to be censored. How about that? I got the inspiration for it from Lilli Christine, the burlesque ‘Cat Girl,’ who I saw dance in the 500 Club in New Orleans. It’s supposed to be an artistic dance. Hah, hah. It’s pure burlesque. Bayou‘s a good picture but you can’t understand most of the actors. Now Paths of Glory is a different kind of picture. It’s bold. You might say it’s brazen. Women get a spiritual cry out of it.”

Tim fingered his thick gold wristwatch.

“I’ve seen Paths of Glory 10 or 15 times. I think I’m very good in it. I was oh, kind of subdued in it. I liked the scene where I killed the cockroach.

“We were playing French soldiers and Ralph Meeker saw a cockroach on the table and said bitterly ‘Look at that cockroach; tomorrow we’ll be dead and he’ll be alive.’ So I slammed my hand on the cockroach and said ‘Now you got the edge on him.’

“I’m very good with snakes. I’ve got two, a 10-foot python named Zsa Zsa and an eight-foot boa constrictor called Emily. I hope they’re females. You can’t tell with snakes, you know.

“This friend of mine has a snake farm in Maryland and the first time he showed me some of his pets, I was enticed, you might say. I did a bit with a snake in the Oasis Club on Western Avenue, Los Angeles, and 30 people ran out of the joint. Snakes are all right. Once a snake is civilized, he’s no harm at all.

“I did a snake scene at a personal appearance in Hartford, Conn., and had trouble getting a girl to help. I mean, I didn’t want to get my mother for it. Got one, though. My snake-farm friend flew in from California to help out. He brought me a big python. Smuggled it on the plane by wrapping it around him.

“We registered the python at the Statler in Hartford as ‘Pete Cajun’ but it was disappointing; the hotel people didn’t bat an eye. Later I rode through the town with the python around my neck. I guess I might say I threw dignity to the winds.”

There was a lot more of this but maybe you should know some of Timothy’s background. He was expelled from five schools and joined the Marines at 15.

Billy Wilder, the director, who had had some unsettling experiences with Tim when the wild man was trying to break into films (Tim came into Billy’s bathroom at 4:30 a.m. when the director was getting ready for an early day’s work – and promptly asked him for a job, enraging Wilder so he slashed his chin), ran off the set when Tim turned up to act in East of Eden.

“I beat up James Dean in that picture,” Tim said thoughtfully. “It was a wonderful experience. In The Killing, I shot a racehorse. My mother wants me to be a priest.”

Tim’s the man who lasted a week with a Columbia, S.C., ballclub (he’s never played ball) by telling the manager he was a good pitcher but had a sore arm. There’s a studio in Hollywood that put up a sign reading “Let’s Make the Best Pictures Here But Let’s Make Them Without Timothy Carey.”

Tim is working on three projects: (1) to out-dance Elvis Presley in Macy’s window, (2) to kidnap Marilyn Monroe (“with her permission, of course”), and (3) to steal an Oscar.

“However, I’m pretty conservative now,” Tim concluded pensively. “I’m writing screenplays and I want to direct. Then I want to retire. Maybe I’ll go back to 79th Street in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, to live. I’ve always been very proud of Bay Ridge.”

Tim's interview with Mel Heimer, 1958

Quote of the Week

In New Haven, they put me on the stage to help whip up some interest in Bayou. They hollered when I did the dance. It out-Elvises Elvis… What I really want to do is write. I’ve got a script right here, which I call L.A., that I’d like you to read… I joined the U.S. Marines at 15, was at Parris Island and finished boot training when they learned my age. Then I was out… When I got to Hollywood, I heard Henry Hathaway was casting Prince Valiant. I rented a Viking costume for $15, climbed a studio fence, confronted him with drawn sword. I didn’t get the part.

– Interview with George Murray, Chicago Daily News, “Loop Movies,” January 15, 1958

Bayou lobby card