Ruler of the Roost Page 2By Andrea Payne Posted: Apr 15, 2003
Carey is the kind of guy who came to adulthood when men were men and women stayed home and Hollywood was in its glory days. A native of Hackensack, New Jersey, Carey grew up in the Long Island towns of Rosedale and Malverne. Fulfilling his life-long dream to act, Carey studied drama at the University of Miami. During a stock performance of OVER 21, the young Carey was spotted by a representative of Warner Bros. and offered a screen test. his first motion picture was OPERATION PACIFIC with John Wayne, and he went on to work with Gary Cooper in SPRINGFIELD RIFLE, with Henry Fonda in MR. ROBERTS, Peter Fonda in FIGHTING MAD and Doris Day in CALAMITY JANE. In between his film work, there were stints as a marine in World War II and the Korean War.Although acting has been good to him, he says, there are some regrets. "I did one picture called PUSHOVER, Kim Novak's first movie with Fred MacMurray. If I were smart then, I would have pushed myself a little more, hired a publicist because I liked what I saw of myself in that film. It did pretty well, but I was into money," he says ruefully, "and I got out of my contract with Columbia to do PHILIP MARLOW. It was a turning point in my life. There were not many people doings television and the money was good, so I gave it a shot. From then on it was difficult to go back to film because they felt that once you were exposed on the tube, you meant nothing in the box office. "I have a lot of regrets. I think, 'You shouldn't have done TV, you should have held out.' I did it though and things were a little rough." In addition to PHILIP MARLOW, Carey starred in the series BENGAL LANCERS, LAREDO and THE UNTAMED WORLD. He has also guest-starred in shows such as ALL IN THE FAMILY, POLICE WOMAN, THE BIONIC WOMAN, GUNSMOKE and LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE. It was during LITTLE HOUSE that Phil was tapped to play Asa Buchanan."I thought I would only be here for 26 weeks, then I'd go." Five years later, Phil seems a little surprised that he's still on the show. In the beginning, he admits, he was afraid he couldn't hack the fast-paced world of soap opera acting. "When I first got here, I was going to go home; I couldn't believe it. I was going to do a scene with Robin Strasser (Dorian)," he explains, "and I'm waiting to go on and there is a guy next door to me talking about Asa. The guy read about 12 pages and then he signaled for me to begin. I said, 'You mean I'm going to hear all that and then I'm going to walk in and do my stuff?' I said I would have to stop and get my mind together. They said, 'No, you just go on.' I called Colleen," Phil remembers with a smile, "and I said, 'I can't do this!' Finally you adjust to it but you are a nervous wreck for the first time. Soaps are a big adjustment for a film actor."One of the major adjustments, Carey notes, is not being recognized by your peers. In California, he says, "I had three prime time series and you tell someone to watch it and he's available to see it. He's at home with his family." Daytime is different. "There's really no gratification doing a job when so many of your peers don't see it....So the gratification comes from the actor himself. He either enjoys the part, or it becomes a very difficult medium to act in. So I do enjoy Asa. I do things I would never take a chance with on prime time." While Phil enjoys having a love interest "every once in a while," he prefers playing the tycoon. "Asa is a dynamic man and should be involved in the type of things the DYNASTY people are. Asa is that breed of big businessman. I like the business world on soaps, the oil and the conglomerates." While Phil is content with his role, he does have one dream: "I wish Asa was prime time. They were thinking about it for a while, but they already did it with BONANZA."To satisfy other creative needs, Phil has formed a production company to produce films. "I'd just like to have control of the script and to maybe get people who I have enjoyed watching some work. And maybe have something worthwhile to say. I'd like to say something in a film. In television, you can give a message. I thought that movie on incest was just marvelous," he observes.As the happy noise of children playing in the next room continues, I wonder if Phil would ever encourage Shannon and Sean to act. "Never," he says quickly. "I wouldn't stop anyone from doing anything. It's just that it is a very difficult field. Three thousand trying out for 20 parts in CHORUS LINE. Ten percent of the actors work and the rest are unemployed...I don't know why actors aren't half dead with ulcers," he says later. "But for some reason they can bite the bullet. You can get so many rejections you learn to hold it in." No, acting is not something he would want for his children. Thinking of the two "anklebiters" playing around, Phil smiles fondly. What he wants for them, Carey says, is "health, wealth, a good education and to be happy with what they choose for their vocation."