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Probably best known as the affable father of James Garner on the Rockford Files, Noah Beery, Jr. was a familiar and well-liked character actor of very different persona than either his father Noah Beery or his uncle Wallace Beery. At age 19 he began playing amicable second leads and occasional leading roles, primarily Westerns, before settling into what would be the pattern for much of his career, of good-natured supporting roles, usually as a pal of a hero. He kept these likeable roles well into his late seventies, transforming slowly into warm rustic sages. He also kept the Beery tradition of acting alive for another generation by marrying the daughter of cowboy star Buck Jones.
Beery was born in New York City where his father was working as a stage actor. 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 uncle, Oscar-winning screen phenomenon Wallace Beery, became the world's highest-paid actor by 1932, and while neither Noah nor his father ever approached that level, both had extremely long and memorable film careers.
Noah Beery, Jr. appeared in dozens of films, including a large early role as John Wayne's action partner in 1934's The Trail Beyond (Wayne was 27 years old and Beery was 21), 20 Mule Team with his uncle, and Red River with Wayne, but is best known for his role as Joseph "Rocky" Rockford, the father of Jim Rockford, James Garner's character on the popular television series The Rockford Files (1974–1980). Beery's television work also included a weekly stint as a clown in Circus Boy with Mickey Dolenz in the mid-1950s. In 1960, he replaced Burt Reynolds in the co-starring role in Riverboat, an NBC western series starring Darren McGavin. He appeared three times on the long running TV western The Virginian in the 1960s.
Noah Beery, Jr. died in 1994 in Tehachapi, California. His first wife was Maxine Jones, only child of Western star Buck Jones, until 1966. His second wife was Lisa Thorman, from 1968 until his death. He was survived by his wife, Lisa; two daughters, Muffett and Melissa; a son, actor Bucklind Beery; and three step children, Page, Sean, and Lorena. His television star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is at 7021 Hollywood Blvd.