Noah Lindsey Beery (August 10, 1913 – November 1, 1994), known professionally as Noah Beery Jr. or just Noah Beery, was an American actor specializing in warm, friendly character roles similar to many portrayed by his Oscar-winning uncle, Wallace Beery. Unlike his more famous uncle, however, Beery Jr. seldom broke away from playing supporting roles. He was best known for playing James Garner's character's father, Joseph "Rocky" Rockford, in the NBC television series The Rockford Files (1974–1980). His father, Noah Nicholas Beery (known professionally as Noah Beery or Noah Beery Sr.), enjoyed a similarly lengthy film career as a major supporting actor.
Life and career
Beery was born in New York City, New York, where his father was working as a stage actor. He was given his nickname "Pidge" by George M. Cohan's sister Josie.
The family moved to California in 1915 when his father began acting in motion pictures. After attending school in Los Angeles, they moved to a ranch in the San Fernando Valley, a style of living he would maintain for the rest of his life.
At the age of seven, he appeared with his father in The Mark of Zorro and like his father, who immediately began billing himself as "Noah Beery Sr.", he went on to become a respected character actor. His paternal uncle, Oscar-winning actor Wallace Beery, became the world's highest-paid actor by 1932. Although neither Beery Jr. nor his father ever approached that level, both had long and memorable acting careers. The three acting Beerys physically closely resembled each other, but Noah Beery Jr. lacked the powerful voice his father and uncle possessed, which is ironic since both older Beerys made major careers in silent movies.
Beery appeared in dozens of films, including a large early role as John Wayne's action partner in The Trail Beyond (1934; Wayne was 27 years old and Beery was 21), Only Angels Have Wings (1939) with Cary Grant, 20 Mule Team (1940) with his uncle Wallace Beery, and Red River (1948), again with John Wayne.
Beery's early television work included a weekly stint as Joey the Clown in Circus Boy with Micky Dolenz in the mid-1950s. In 1960, Beery replaced Burt Reynolds in the co-starring role of Bill Blake on Riverboat, an NBC Western series starring Darren McGavin.
He appeared once on the religion anthology series Crossroads and on Walter Brennan's ABC sitcom, The Real McCoys. He guest-starred three times on the long-running NBC Western series The Virginian in the 1960s, and twice during the same era on Wagon Train. In 1965, he made two guest appearances on Perry Mason (murderer Tony Claus in "The Case of the Golden Venom", and defendant Lucas Tolliver in "The Case of the Hasty Honeymooner").
Beery portrayed the buckskin-clad recurring sidekick character "Buffalo Baker" in the 17-episode 1967 television series Hondo starring Ralph Taeger, a role played by Ward Bond in the original 3D John Wayne film. In 1970 Beery appeared as Will Baxter on the TV western The Virginian. But Beery is best known for his role as Joseph "Rocky" Rockford, the father of Jim Rockford, James Garner's character on The Rockford Files (1974–1980).
Beery died on November 1, 1994 in Tehachapi, California of a cerebral thrombosis, aged 81. He was interred in Forest Lawn Memorial Park.
Beery Jr.'s first wife until 1966 was Maxine Jones, the only child of Western star Buck Jones. His second wife from 1968 until his death was Lisa Thorman. He had two daughters, Muffett and Melissa; a son, actor Bucklind Beery; and three step-children, Page, Sean, and Lorena Slattery.
On February 8, 1960, he received a star located at 7047 Hollywood Blvd. on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contributions to the television industry.
- Circus Boy (TV series) - series - Joey (1956–1957)
- Rawhide - Incident of the Chubasco - Arkansas (1959)
- The Real McCoys - episode - The Investors - Claude McCoy (1961)
- Wagon Train - episode - The Jonas Murdock Story - Jonas Murdock (1960)
- Wagon Train - episode—Path of the Serpent - Ruddy Blaine (1961)
- Wanted: Dead or Alive - episode - El Gato - El Gato (1961)
- Wanted: Dead or Alive - episode - Barney's Bounty - Barney Durant (1961)
- Gunsmoke (11th season)
- Route 66 - episode - 1800 Days to Justice - Emlyn Job (1962)
- Wagon Train - episode - The Kate Crawley Story - Stump Beasley (1964)
- Bonanza - episode - Lotherio Larkin - Lotherio Larkin (1965)
- Perry Mason - episode - The Case of the Hasty Honeymooner -Lucas Tolliver (1965)
- Lassie - episode - Danger Mountain (Season 13) as Carl Bryan (1966)
- Laredo - episode - A Taste of Money - Ezekiel Fry (1966)
- Combat! - episode - A Little Jazz - Hank (1967)
- Hondo - 17 episodes -Buffalo Baker (1967)
- Bonanza - episode - The Crime of Johnny Mule - Johnny Mule (1968)
- Alias Smith and Jones - episode - Something to Get Hung About - Sheriff (1971)
- Police Story - episode - The Big Walk - Hecker (1973)
- The Six Million Dollar Man - episode - Run, Steve, Run - Tom Molson (1974)
- The Waltons - episode - The Heritage - Charlie Harmon (1974)
- The Rockford Files - 121 episodes - Joseph "Rocky" Rockford (1974–1980)
- The Six Million Dollar Man - episode - The Bionic Badge - Officer Banner (1976)
- Ellery Queen - episode - The Adventure of the Sinister Scenario - Lionel Briggs (1976)
- Greatest Heroes of the Bible - episode - The Story of Esther - Mordechai (1979)
- Eight Is Enough - episode - Marriage and other flights of fancy (1979)
- The Love Boat - episode - Celebration; Captain Papa; Honeymoon Pressure (1980)
- Vega$ - episode - Sourdough Suite - Josiah Sparks (1981)
- Magnum, P.I. - episode - All Roads Lead to Floyd - Floyd Lewellen (1981)
- Fantasy Island - High Off the Hog/Reprisal - Otis T. Boggs (1981)
- Beyond Witch Mountain (with Eddie Albert) - Uncle Ben (1982)
- The Yellow Rose - 22 episodes - Luther Dillard (1983–1984)
- Murder, She Wrote - episode - Funeral at Fifty-Mile - Doc Wallace (1985)
- Trapper John, M.D. - episode - Buckaroo Bob Rides Again - Buckaroo Bob Morgan (1985)
- The Love Boat - episode - Hello, Emily/The Tour Guide/The Winning Number - Daryl Wilcox (1986) (final appearance)