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Richard Harris

Richard Harris was a multi-award-winning actor who was perhaps best known as King Arthur in the 1967 film version of Lerner and Loewe's musical Camelot. Other major films include, This Sporting Life, A Man Called Horse, The Return of a Man Called Horse, Juggernaut, Gladiator, Man in the Wilderness, Cry, the Beloved Country, Mutiny on the Bounty, The Guns of Navarone, The Wild Geese, Wrestling Ernest Hemingway, Patriot Games, Sam Peckinpah's Major Dundee and Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven. Near the end of his life he became known to a new generation as the wise old wizard headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, in the first two Harry Potter films, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001) and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002). Harris received Academy award nominations for his work in This Sporting Life and The Field.

As a singer, he is best remembered for the epic-length MacArthur Park (clocking in at over seven minutes). The 1968 smash hit sold several million copies and was followed by several additional albums including, The Yard Went on Forever, My Boy and Jonathan Livingston Seagull, for which he won a Grammy award.

Regarding his Irish birth, British residency, and his well-deserved reputation as a hard-drinking hell-raiser, he once commented, "When I'm in trouble, I'm an Irishman. When I turn in a good performance, I'm an Englishman." Clint Eastwood called him "A slightly mad Irishman and a truly gifted performer." Following years of drug abuse and decades of heavy boozing, Harris gave up drinking in 1982.

Biographical fast facts

Full or original name at birth: Richard St. John Harris

Date, time and place of birth: October 1, 1930, at 11:20 a.m. GDT (10:20 GMT), Limerick, Ireland

Date, place and cause of death: October 25*, 2002, University College Hospital, London, England (Hodgkin's disease)

Marriage #1
Wife: Elizabeth Rees-Williams (m. February 9, 1957 - 1969) (divorced)

Marriage #2
Wife: Ann Turkel (m. June 7, 1974 - 1982) (divorced)

Sons: Damian David Harris (b. August 2, 1958)
Jared Francis Harris (b. August 24, 1961)
Jamie St. John Harris (b. May 15, 1963)

Father: Ivan Harris (a farmer and flour mill owner)
Mother: Mildred (Harty) Harris

Remains: He was cremated and his ashes scattered at his beach home in the Bahamas.

Error corrections or clarifications

* "October 21" is erroneously reported as his date of death by a couple of misinformed sources.

A few sources mistakenly report he was born in "1933," while others claim "1932."
Note: The date of birth listed above is the date and time of birth Richard himself reported as his precise time of birth, and has subsequently been verified by many researchers.

All of the following publications, in some past editions, have offered erroneous birth data on Richard Harris.

Born This Day: A Daily Celebration of Famous Beginnings by Ed Morrow

Daily Celebrity Almanac by Bob Barry

Leonard Maltin's Movie Encyclopedia

The Hammond Almanac

New York Times Encyclopedic Almanac

People Entertainment Almanac

Reader's Digest Almanac and Yearbook

Time/Information Please Almanac

Who's Who in America

The Wordsworth Book of Days

World Almanac and Book of Facts

The World Almanac Who's Who of Film

It is not our intent to denigrate these fine publications, but merely to point out the above inaccuracy to prevent further dissemination of the erroneous data.

Quotes - In his own words

"If ever I was miscast in my life, it was in the role of husband . . . I was the worst husband in the world."

"Actors take themselves so seriously. Samuel Beckett is important, James Joyce is -- they left something behind them. But even Laurence Olivier is totally unimportant. Acting is actually very simple, but actors try to elevate it to an art."

Commenting on the period of his worst drinking and drug use: "I made films I did not want to see, I took planes to places I didn't want to visit, I bought houses I didn't live in. I was numb, and it didn't seem to matter."

"I consider a great part of my career a total failure." "I went after the wrong things -- got caught in the '60s. I picked pictures that were way below my talent -- Just to have fun."

"I hate movies. They're a waste of time. I could be in a pub having more fun talking to idiots rather than sitting down and watching idiots perform."

"I feel most alive when I'm working on a film."

Commenting on the Harry Potter series of films: "I'll keep doing it as long as I enjoy it, my health holds out, and they still want me. But the chances of all three of those factors remaining constant are pretty slim."

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