Kevin McCarthy

Active - 1944 - 2012  |   Born - Feb 15, 1914   |   Died - Sep 11, 2010   |   Genres - Drama, Comedy, Horror, Thriller, Western

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Kevin McCarthy and his older sister Mary Therese McCarthy both found careers in the entertainment industry, though in very different arenas -- Mary became a best-selling novelist, and Kevin became an actor after dabbling in student theatricals at the University of Minnesota. On Broadway from 1938 -- Kevin's first appearance was in Robert Sherwood's Abe Lincoln in Illinois -- McCarthy was critically hosannaed for his portrayal of Biff in the original 1948 production of Death of a Salesmen (who could tell that he was but three years younger than the actor playing his father, Lee J. Cobb?) In 1951, McCarthy re-created his Salesman role in the film version, launching a movie career that would thrive for four decades.

The film assignment that won McCarthy the hearts of adolescent boys of all ages was his portrayal of Dr. Miles Bennell in Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956). Bennell's losing battle against the invading pod people, and his climactic in-your-face warning "You're next!, " made so indelible an impression that it's surprising to discover that McCarthy's other sci-fi credits are relatively few. Reportedly, he resented the fact that Body Snatchers was the only film for which many viewers remembered him; if so, he has since come to terms with his discomfiture, to the extent of briefly reviving his "You're next!" admonition (he now screamed "They're here!" to passing motorists) in the 1978 remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

He has also shown up with regularity in the films of Body Snatchers aficionado Joe Dante, notably 1984's Twilight Zone: The Movie (McCarthy had earlier played the ageless title role in the 1959 Zone TV episode "Long Live Walter Jamieson") and 1993's Matinee, wherein an unbilled McCarthy appeared in the film-within-a-film Mant as General Ankrum (a tip of the cap to another Dante idol, horror-movie perennial Morris Ankrum). Kevin McCarthy would, of course, have had a healthy stage, screen and TV career without either Body Snatchers or Joe Dante; he continued showing up in films into the early 1990s, scored a personal theatrical triumph in the one-man show Give 'Em Hell, Harry!, and was starred in the TV series The Survivors (1969), Flamingo Road (1981), The Colbys (1983) and Bay City Blues (1984).

Movie Highlights

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