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Noah Beery
Actor Noah Beery (SAYRE 4533).jpg
Noah Beery in 1925
Noah Nicholas Beery

(1882-01-17)January 17, 1882
DiedApril 1, 1946(1946-04-01) (aged 64)
Years active1898–1946
Marguerite Lindsay
(m. 1910)
ChildrenNoah Beery Jr.
FamilyWallace Beery (brother)

Noah Nicholas Beery (January 17, 1882 – April 1, 1946) was an American actor who appeared in films from 1913 until his death in 1945. He was the older brother of Academy Award-winning actor Wallace Beery as well as the father of prominent character actor Noah Beery Jr.. Noah Beery was billed as either Noah Beery or Noah Beery Sr. depending upon the film.

Early life

Noah Nicholas Beery was born on a farm in Clay County, Missouri not far from Smithville.[1] The Beery family left the farm in the 1890s and moved to nearby Kansas City, Missouri where the father was employed as a police officer. While still a young boy Beery got his first exposure to theatre, and at the same time showed budding entrepreneurship by selling lemon drops at the Gillis Theater in Kansas City.[2]

Possessed of a deep, rich voice even in his early teens, several of the actors at the Gillis Theater encouraged Beery to take singing lessons and consider a career as a performer. A summer of singing at Kansas City's Electric Park amusement park led to Beery leaving for New York City while just sixteen years old.[1] Noah Beery was three years older than his brother Wallace, who also worked his way into becoming an actor as quickly as he could.


Isle of Lost Ships (1929) with Jason Robards Sr. and Noah Beery Sr.
Isle of Lost Ships (1929) with Jason Robards Sr. and Noah Beery Sr.
Noah Beery and son Noah Beery Jr. in 1922
Noah Beery and son Noah Beery Jr. in 1922
The Red Lantern (1919) with Alla Nazimova and Noah Beery
The Red Lantern (1919) with Alla Nazimova and Noah Beery
The Red Lantern (1919) with Nazimova and Noah Beery
The Red Lantern (1919) with Nazimova and Noah Beery
The Red Lantern (1919) with Nazimova and Noah Beery
The Red Lantern (1919) with Nazimova and Noah Beery
The Sea Wolf (1920) with Noah Beery as Wolf Larsen
The Sea Wolf (1920) with Noah Beery as Wolf Larsen
Belle of Alaska (1922)
Belle of Alaska (1922)
Stormswept (1923) with Wallace and Noah Beery
Stormswept (1923) with Wallace and Noah Beery
Stormswept (1923) with Noah and Wallace Beery
Stormswept (1923) with Noah and Wallace Beery
The Fighting Coward (1924) with Noah Beery and Cullen Landis
The Fighting Coward (1924) with Noah Beery and Cullen Landis
Betty Compson and Noah Beery in The Female (1924)
Betty Compson and Noah Beery in The Female (1924)
Paradise (1926)
Paradise (1926)
Noah Beery and Tom Kennedy in Man of the Forest (1933)
Noah Beery and Tom Kennedy in Man of the Forest (1933)

Noah Beery found work in vaudeville and in the chorus of musical comedies during his early years in New York. Soon though he would turn his attention to acting in melodramas of the period, often under the direction of William A. Brady.[1]

After a dozen years on the stage, he joined his brother Wallace in Hollywood in 1915 to make motion pictures. He became a respected character actor, adept at playing the villain but sometimes portraying the hero. One of his most memorable characterizations was as Sergeant Gonzales in The Mark of Zorro (1920) opposite Douglas Fairbanks. The tagline on the poster for Stormswept (1923) proclaimed "Wallace and Noah Beery, The Two Greatest Character Actors on the American Screen".[citation needed]

Beery acted through the silent film era, and successfully made the transition to "talkies". He appeared in lavish early Technicolor musicals, such as The Show of Shows (1929), the widescreen musical Song of the Flame (1930; the movie's poster noted that "Noah Beery will thrill you with his wonderful bass voice, twice as low as any ever recorded"), Bright Lights (1930), Under a Texas Moon (1930) and Golden Dawn (1930; in which he wore blackface as an African native).[citation needed]

He reached his peak in popularity in 1930, even recording a phonograph record for Brunswick Records with songs from two of his films. However, his popularity gradually declined while his brother Wallace became the highest-paid actor in the world, winning an Oscar and arranging a contract with MGM in which he would be paid $1 more than any other actor on their roster. Noah Beery Sr. played the flamboyant supporting role of Mae West's bar-owning lover until she leaves him for Cary Grant in She Done Him Wrong (1933), while his brother Wallace performed in an extremely similar part, as the top-billed lead, later the same year in Raoul Walsh's The Bowery.[citation needed]

At the height of his career, Noah Beery began billing himself as "Noah Beery Sr." in anticipation of his son's presence in films. After his death, his son dropped the "Junior" and became simply Noah Beery. Among other films, Noah Beery Sr. and Noah Beery Jr. appeared together in The Trail Beyond (1934) with John Wayne, in which Noah Jr. played Wayne's sidekick throughout the picture. Four decades later, Noah Jr. became best known as James Garner's character's father "Rocky" in the 1970s television series The Rockford Files. Noah Beery Sr. appeared in nearly 200 films during his career and in 1945 returned to New York City to star in the Mike Todd Broadway production of Up in Central Park.

Personal life

Noah Beery Sr. married fellow actor Marguerite Walker Lindsey in 1910. Their first child died in infancy. Their second child, actor Noah Lindsey Beery (stage name Noah Beery Jr.), was born in 1913 and was seriously ill in early childhood, prompting a brief move to Florida on the advice of doctors.[2]


Beery died on April 1, 1946 after suffering a heart attack at the Beverly Hills home of his brother Wallace Beery. It was Wallace's birthday and, in addition to celebrating the event, the brothers were rehearsing a radio drama they were scheduled to perform later in the evening.[1]

He was buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Hollywood Hills in Los Angeles.[3]

Selected filmography


  1. ^ a b c d Dictionary of Missouri Biography, Lawrence O. Christensen, University of Missouri Press, 1999.
  2. ^ a b "Characters and heavies - Noah Beery Sr". "Western Clippings" website. Retrieved July 15, 2012.
  3. ^ Wilson, Scott. Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed.: 2 (Kindle Locations 3178). McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. Kindle Edition.

External links

This page was last edited on 13 May 2021, at 02:04
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