His run down a California highway trying to warn people of an insidious invasion that was already underway in the original Invasion Of The Body Snatchers is one of the most iconic scenes in 1950s cinema. But now, the man who warned us of an invasion that some critics have seen as allegorical to real world concerns over the Communist menace, Kevin McCarthy, passed away yesterday in a hospital in Massachusetts. He was 96.
McCarthy’s seven decade career started in the 1930s on the stage in New York. In 1949, he appeared as Biff Loman opposite Paul Muni’s Willy Loman in a London production of Death of a Salesman. He would reprise the role for the 1951 film version starring Frederick March, earning an Best Support Actor Academy Award nomination and a Golden Globe Award for most promising male newcomer.
Director Don Siegel’s Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, based on a novel by Jack Finney, was McCarthy’s next major film, and it was the one that firmly cemented the actor in to the pop culture zeitgeist. Although offers of what some would call A-list material were few and far between, McCarthy always delivered a fine performance no matter what the film. In between much television work, McCarthy appeared in such films as The Misfits, opposite Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe, Kansas City Bomber, Buffalo Bill And The Indians, My Tutor and UHF.
McCarthy never let his iconic Invasion role be an impediment to his career. In fact, he seemed to embrace it. He returned for a cameo in the 1978 remake of the film. He also appeared as himself in the 2005 film Slipstream, which made several Invasion Of The Body Snatchers references.
In the late 70s, the actor became a favorite of director Joe Dante, who was a fan ever since he saw Invasion as a child. McCarthy appeared in four of the director’s films – Piranha, The Howling, Inerspace and the Dante-helmed section of the anthology The Twilight Zone.
Via The Wrap.