For many, Macdonald Carey is best remembered as Dr. Tom Horton on NBC's soap opera Days of Our Lives, a role he had played for nearly three decades beginning with the shows inception in 1965. But before Carey became a fixture on daytime television he was a regular on radio and then later in Hollywood films. Some of his notable features include supporting parts or lead roles in Alfred Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt (1943), Suddenly It's Spring (1947) alongside Fred MacMurray and Paulette Goddard, Joseph Losey's The Lawless (1950), and Let's Make It Legal (1951) with Claudette Colbert.
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2711 Jones Street, Sioux City, Iowa
Carey's interest in films and performing started at an early age, back when he was growing up in Sioux City, Iowa. The family home was located at 2711 Jones Street, across the street from Hubbard Park. At the Jones Street home Carey had a theater in the parlor and then later in the basement where he would perform magic tricks and recitations. With a film projector given to him by his father, Carey would charge neighborhood kids ten or fifteen cents to watch Buster Keaton, Lloyd Hamilton, and Charlie Chaplin comedies that he had rented or purchased. When Carey wasn't performing or showing films he was interested in sports, playing pickup games of basketball, hockey, baseball and football with friends in the neighborhood.
Carey's childhood home. 2711 Jones Street
Carey's mother, a lover of the arts, encourages him to develop his musical talents. She has Carey take years of piano, violin, drum, and singing lessons. Carey writes in his autobiography, The Days of My Life:
"Besides all my music lessons, I am in the Boy Scouts, I take ballroom dancing and tap dancing, and, by the time I get to high school, I am playing drums in a little jazz combo. Every Saturday morning, I have French lessons from Professor Greynald. In the winter, I play hockey; each spring and fall, there is a constant basketball game in our backyard. Poor Grandfather complains in 1927 that the backyard is as white as the street. He should complain. We trample the grass flat and his garden is long gone."Carey had an educational and well rounded childhood in Sioux City, but it is also where he met his biggest burden in life - alcohol. For many years as an adult Carey struggled with alcoholism and it was in Sioux City that Carey first experimented with the bottle. At the time Carey was growing up in Sioux City, Prohibition is in full force, but nevertheless everyone drinks. Carey explains that "the rite of passage for a boy in Sioux City in the twenties is being able to drink twelve bottles of spiked beer sequentially without passing out." Spiked beer was "near beer" mixed with about one-and-a-half ounces of straight alcohol.
The backyard where Carey would play basketball.
The "Castle on the Hill," so called because of the building's turrets and ramparts, was originally Sioux City's Central High School. The building, located at 610 13th Street, is where Carey would attend high school. During high school Carey played on the school hockey team and organized a stamp club. He was an enthusiastic stamp collector. Two other famous Central High students were Esther and Pauline Friedman who later would be known as advice columnists Ann Landers and Abigail Van Buren (Dear Abby). The Friedman twins lived across the street from the Carey family on Jones Street. In 1972, the school had closed and in 2004 was renovated into apartments.
Central High School, "The Castle on the Hill."
After completing high school Carey attended Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire and then in 1931 went on to the University of Wisconsin in Madison (UW). A few old Hollywood actors attended the University of Wisconsin, including Fredric March, Don Ameche, and Agnes Moorehead to name a few. Carey only attended his freshman year at Madison. He notes that "while Prohibition was flourishing, so were a few of the old Wisconsin breweries - at least their rathskellers." Carey had trouble keeping his drinking under control in this atmosphere and so later returned to Iowa, completing his degree at the University of Iowa. It was at the University of Iowa that Carey got serious about acting, learning the skills that would take him to New York and then Hollywood.
Images of Macdonald Carey home (c) 2013 Google. Central High School image from Wikimedia Commons.