Eugene Joseph Carey was born July 15, 1925, in Hackensack, New Jersey. Raised in the suburban Long Island towns of Rosedale and Malverne, Carey harbored dreams of being an actor all his life. He studied drama at the University of Miami but it was back on Long Island where he got his break.
A former U.S. Marine in World War II and the Korean War, Phil spent a large portion of his professional career starring in motion pictures. In his first feature film, Operation Pacific, Carey appeared opposite John Wayne. Carey won over studio executive and he was quickly signed to a long-term contract with Warner Brothers. During his time at Warner Brothers and later at Columbia Pictures, Phil starred with some of Hollywood's biggest names: Gary Cooper in Springfield Rifle, Henry Fonda in Mister Roberts, Peter Fonda in Fighting Mad, and Tyrone Power in The Long Gray Line.
Carey has also starred in a number of primetime television series, such as Philip Marlowe, Bengal Lancers, Laredo and The Untamed World; and guest-starred on All in the Family, Little House on the Prairie, Police Woman, The Bionic Woman and Gunsmoke. Additionally, he has toured in such stage plays as Arthur Miller's All My Sons, and Cyrano de Bergerac.
To millions of daytime television fans, however, Carey will forever be known as One Life to Live's Asa Buchanan. Carey joined the cast of One Life to Live in 1979, having been offered the role after a strong, but unsuccessful, audition for the role of Palmer Cortlandt on All My Children. Carey remained a contract player with One Life to Live until 2007, when the show opted not to renew his contract. Carey refused to go on recurring status, and the show wrote a storyline that killed off Asa. Later, though, Carey would eventually agree to make a handful of guest appearances.
In January 2006, Carey was diagnosed with lung cancer and underwent chemotherapy.
"He was a very kind and considerate man. Always aware of the others feelings. NOT like Asa at all in that respect," Timothy D. Stickney (R.J. Gannon) said of Carey. "I grew to like him as much as I respected him. A good man from a time when not all were as open and respectful toward others."
"Phil Carey was a light in my life around the studio," Hillary B. Smith (Nora Hanen) reflected. " A big man, with a big heart that hated the idea that he had such a big heart. It is amazing to lose Clint Ritchie and Phil Carey in the same week, and yet I don't think they would have wanted it any other way. I just hope they both end up in the same place or there will be Hell to pay... literally! Phil's presence on the show is still palpable and will always be felt. I miss him. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family.
"He was like 'Pa' to me," said his on-screen son, Robert S. Woods (Bo Buchanan). "My own father passed away in 1975 and I met Philly in 1979. For those 30 years, he has been like a father to me. I don't know if I could love him more if he was my dad."
"I was incredibly fond of Phil Carey," said Erika Slezak (Victoria Davidson). "I loved that man very much. He was larger than life, like his character of Asa. He was a central figure on the show and to everyone at One Life to Live. When Phil was in the building, you knew it. He will be sorely missed. I was so honored to have the privilege to work with him one final time for our 40th Anniversary show."
Adds executive producer, Frank Valentini, "It's a sad day in Llanview."
Carey is survived by his wife, Colleen Welch, and five children, Linda, Jeffrey and Lisa Ann, with first wife Maureen Peppler; and Shannon and Sean, with Welch.
Additional details and a statement from ABC will follow.