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Edward "Ned" Harrigan
Ned Harrigan was an American playwright,
actor, producer, singer, lyricist, and
comedian with the popular comedy team of
Harrigan & Hart. He was an entertainment
pioneer who helped establish and popularize
musical-comedy theater in the United States.
Ned Harrigan was one of the most beloved
theatrical figures of his era.
Biographical fast facts
Full or original name at birth: Edward Green Harrigan
Date and place of birth: October 26, 1844,
at 34 Scammel Street, New York City, New York, U.S.A.*
Date, place and cause of death: June 6, 1911,
at 249 West 102nd Street (just west of Broadway),
New York City, New York, U.S.A. (Heart disease)
Spouse: Annie Braham (m. November 18, 1876 - June 6, 1911) (his death)
Wedding took place before Father Fritz Harris
at St. Joseph's Church, 371 Sixth Avenue, between
Waverly and Washington Place, New York City,
New York, U.S.A.
Sons: Edward "Eddie Jr." Harrigan (d. February 17, 1895, of peritonitis)
Anthony Hart Harrigan (1881-1932)
George Harrigan (b. March 1885 - d. May 9, 1885, at 9:30 a.m., of acute bronchitis)
William Harrigan (1886-1966)**
Philip Braham Harrigan (b. 1892, 46 West 68th Street, New York City, New York, - d. 1972)
Nolan Harrigan (1894-1966)
Daughters: Annie Harrigan (d. 1880 at the age of 10 months)
Adelaide Harrigan (1882-1960)
Grace "Nedda" Harrigan (1899-1989)
NOTE: Ned Harrigan and his wife,
Annie "The Duchess" Harrigan, had a total
of ten kids, three of which did not survive infancy.
Siblings: William Harrigan, Jr. (b. 1841, at
8 Gouverneur Street, New York City, New York) (older brother)
Sisters: Mary Harrigan
NOTE: Ned's parents had a total of thirteen
children, but only four (Ned and his three
siblings listed above) survived infancy.
Father: William Harrigan (b. 1799, Carbonear, Newfoundland,
Canada) (a caulker in area shipyards)
Mother: Ellen Ann Rogers (b. 1814, Charlestown, Massachusetts)
Burial site: Woodlawn Cemetery, Webster Avenue and
East 233rd Street, Bronx, New York, U.S.A.
Error corrections or clarifications
* A number of sources, including the
Encyclopedia Britannica, erroneously report
"1845" as the year of Ned's birth. A few
sources also report the incorrect street
address of "31 Scammel Street" for his birth.
The Harrigan family didn't move across the
street to 31 Scammel until a year after Ned
made his debut in the world. Note that Scammel
Street later ceased to exist when it was
swallowed up by a public school playground.
Also be aware that some government records
(including some census records) erroneously
spell their name "Harigan" and also "Harrington."
** His son, William Harrigan, was not born in
1893 or 1894 as most sources state. Government records
and family papers alike, confirm his 1886 birth.
Biography - Credits - Residences of Ned Harrigan
Edward Harrigan was raised in an area of
Manhattan known as Corlear's Hook, then more
commonly known as Cork Row. It was a racially
diverse area of Irish, Italian, and German
immigrants, as well as African-Americans.
His straightforward inclusion of those
minorities in the many skits and plays he
would later write, proved quite groundbreaking.
Because of his frequent inclusion of those
at the bottom of the social and economic
ladder, his audiences didn't just consist
of the elite Fifth Avenue crowd. It was
just one of the elements that contributed
to his phenomenal success and longevity on
stage. In fact, Harrigan & Hart dominated
the New York stage during the 1870s and
early 1880s. Harrigan made his stage debut
in San Francisco back in the 1860s, and
his Broadway debut in 1870.
Teaming with Anthony J. Cannon, who later changed
his name to Tony Hart, the comedy team
of Harrigan & Hart would become so
popular, Harrigan was later able to build
his own theater venue. Productions were
often a family affair, with Ned writing
the lyrics to their songs, and his
father-in-law, David Braham, composing
the music. Other family members were
frequently seen both onstage and off.
Harrigan & Hart were best known for
The Mulligan Guards, which premiered
in 1873. After becoming their signature
piece, the Guards would be featured in
many of their most popular slapstick skits
and plays. It may have been the centerpiece
of his career, but Harrigan didn't own
the rights to the song. He often bemoaned
the fact that he sold the tune for just
$50 in the early years of his career.
The acclaimed comedy team gave their final
Broadway performance on May 9th, 1885. Fans
were heartbroken when they learned the most
popular comedy duo on Broadway had gone
their separate ways. Tony Hart
died six years later at the age of 36.
Paresis and advanced syphilis, had caused
Ned's comic partner to suffer terribly
during his final years. Suffering from
dementia, Tony's last years were spent in
and out of a state mental institution.
Ned Harrigan continued to delight his fans
with new and old routines alike, for many
years. The Globe Theatre, Theatre Comique,
and his own Harrigan Theatre are the New York
venues that are most closely associated
The legendary George M. Cohan idolized Ned
Harrigan, and wrote the popular song,
Harrigan, in his honor. It was first
heard in the Broadway show Fifty Miles From
Boston, just a few years before Ned's death.
It became a favorite with barbershop quartettes,
and is likely better known to most audiences
than the man who inspired it.
Excerpt from the song Harrigan (By George M. Cohan):
"H-A double R I-G-A-N spells Harrigan.
Proud of all the Irish blood that's in me.
Divel a man that says a word agin me.
H-A double R I-G-A-N you see,
It's a name that a shame never has been connected with
HARRIGAN, That's me!"
Nearly a century after their heyday, a $2 million
Broadway musical, Harrigan 'n Hart opened.
Directed by Joe Layton, the musical told the
story of Ned Harrigan and comedy partner
Tony Hart's struggle to rise to the top of
late 19th century Broadway theater. Harry
Groener portrayed Ned Harrigan, and Mark
Hamill (of Star Wars fame) played Tony Hart.
The show opened at the renowned Longacre Theater,
January 31st, 1985, and closed February 3rd, 1985,
after just a handful of performances, and a
couple dozen previews. The show was a flop,
with the New York Times calling it "dull" and
"aimless." Nonetheless, both Harry Groener
and Mark Hamill received Drama Desk Award
nominations in the Outstanding Actor in a
Musical category, for their performances.
Selected stage credits:
The Mulligan Guards
The Mulligan Guards' Christmas
The Mulligan Guard Ball
The Last of the Hogans
The Regular Army O!
Reilly and the 400
Selected song credits (as lyricist):
The Babies on Our Block
The Gallant "69th"
I Never Drink behind the Bar
Maggie Murphy's Home
My Dad's Dinner Pail
Paddy Duffy's Cart
Singing at the Hallway Door
The Skidmore Fancy Ball
Residences of Ned Harrigan:
Note that these residences may no longer
exist, and it's possible the addresses
have changed over the past century. This
is not to suggest that Ned Harrigan owned
each and every one of these structures.
We're only reporting the fact that he
called them home at one point or another
in his life.
22 Varick Street, New York City, New York, U.S.A. (1876-1877)
26 King Street, New York City, New York, U.S.A. (c. 1877)
30 King Street, New York City, New York, U.S.A. (c. 1878-1881)
14 Perry Street, New York City, New York, U.S.A. (1881-1891)
236 West 44th Street, New York City, New York, U.S.A. (c. 1891-1893)
46 West 68th Street, New York City, New York, U.S.A. (c. 1894-1895)
122 West 113th Street, New York City, New York, U.S.A. (1895)
310 Park Place, Brooklyn, New York, U.S.A. (1895-1908)
249 West 102nd Street (just west of Broadway), New York, New York, U.S.A. (1908-1911)
The most in-depth of more than two dozen sources
consulted in preparing this profile, was
the 1980 biography, Ned Harrigan: From Corlear's Hook to Herald Square,
by Richard Moody.
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This page was last updated January 1, 2012. |