Richard Harris Biography

(One of Ireland's Greatest Film Actors)

Birthday: October 1, 1930 (Libra)

Born In: Limerick, Ireland

Richard St John Harris, popularly known as Richard Harris, was an Irish actor, singer, director, producer, and writer. He is known for the variety of roles that he portrayed in his extensive entertainment career. Some of his popular roles include ‘Frank Machin’ in ‘This Sporting Life,’ ‘King Arthur’ in ‘Camelot,’ ‘John Morgan’ in ‘A Man Called Horse,’  ‘English Bob’ in ‘Unforgiven,’ ‘Marcus Aurelius’ in ‘Gladiator,’ and ‘Albus Dumbledore’ in the first two movies of the ‘Harry Potter’ series. Harris started his creative journey when he shifted from Ireland to London where he studied performing arts. After working in different theater productions, he got a chance to act in Hollywood movies. ‘This Sporting Life’ in 1963 is considered to be his breakthrough as well as the most prominent movie of his career. Harris also worked in some made-for-TV movies. He released many albums as he was also a singer of distinctive talent. He won many accolades, including ‘Golden Globe Award’ for ‘Best Motion Picture Actor (Musical/Comedy)’ for ‘Camelot,’ ‘Best Actor Award’ at the 1963 ‘Cannes Film Festival’ for ‘This Sporting Life,’ and ‘Grammy Award’ for ‘Best Spoken Word Recording’ for ‘Jonathan Livingston Seagull.’

Quick Facts

Also Known As: Richard St John Francis Harris

Died At Age: 72


Spouse/Ex-: Ann Turkel (m. 1974–1982), Elizabeth Rees-Williams (m. 1957–1969)

father: Ivan John Harris

mother: Mildred Josephine (Harty) Harris, Mildred Josephine Harty Harris

siblings: Dermot Harris, Noel William Michael Harris, Patrick Ivan Harris, William George Harris

children: Damian Harris, Jamie Harris, Jared Harris

Born Country: Ireland

Actors Directors

Height: 6'1" (185 cm), 6'1" Males

Died on: October 25, 2002

place of death: London, England, United Kingdom

Diseases & Disabilities: Tuberculosis

Cause of Death: Hodgkin Lymphoma

Notable Alumni: Crescent College

City: Limerick, Ireland

More Facts

education: London Academy Of Music And Dramatic Art, Crescent College

  • 1

    What are some famous movies starring Richard Harris?

    Some famous movies starring Richard Harris include "Gladiator," "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," "Camelot," "The Field," and "Unforgiven."

  • 2

    Did Richard Harris ever release any music albums?

    Yes, Richard Harris released a music album titled "A Tramp Shining" in 1968, which included his hit song "MacArthur Park."

  • 3

    Was Richard Harris ever involved in any charitable work?

    Yes, Richard Harris was a supporter of various charitable causes, including UNICEF and the Irish Hospice Foundation.

  • 4

    Did Richard Harris have any notable collaborations with other actors?

    Richard Harris had notable collaborations with actors such as Clint Eastwood in the film "Unforgiven" and Russell Crowe in the film "Gladiator."

Childhood & Early Life

Richard Harris was born on 1 October 1930, in Limerick, Irish Free State, to Ivan John Harris and Mildred Josephine Harris. He and his siblings, Patrick Ivan, Noel William Michael, Diarmid Dermot, and William George Harris, were brought up in a middle class household.

He attended ‘Crescent College’ and was considered to be a brilliant rugby player; he played at many ‘Munster Junior’ and ‘Senior Cups’ for his school team. Unfortunately, his sports career was cut short after contracting tuberculosis.

He read voraciously for two years while he was recuperating from TB, and his ambitions changed after that. He decided that he wanted a career in arts and moved to England where he enrolled at the ‘London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art’ in 1956.

After completing his studies, Harris joined Joan Littlewood’s Theatre Workshop and started acting in West End Theater productions like ‘The Quare Fellow’ (1956). He spent many years in England, working in various theater productions.

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Harris made his debut with 1959’s ‘Alive and Kicking,’ after which he started getting roles in a number of major motion pictures. He appeared in the World War II action adventure ‘The Guns of Navarone.’ He then appeared in ‘Mutiny on the Bounty.’

His first major movie was ‘This Sporting Life’ in 1963 in which he portrayed the role of a coal miner-turned-famous rugby player. He earned the ‘Best Actor’ award at the ‘Cannes Film Festival’ for the movie.

‘Camelot’ (1967), in which he played the role of ‘King Arthur,’ did not do well commercially. Subsequently, Harris bought the rights to the show and staged ‘Camelot’ many times throughout his career, which proved to be a success.

Harris managed to impress the critics and his fans alike with ‘A Man Called Horse’ in 1970, in which he played the role of an English noble who gets captured by Native Americans.

In 1971, he appeared in a BBC TV film adaptation of ‘The Snow Goose.’ Its screenplay by Paul Gallico won a ‘Golden Globe’ award for ‘Best Movie made for Television.’ It was also nominated for a ‘BAFTA’ and ‘Emmy Award.’

Throughout the 1970s, Harris did movies like ‘Man in the Wilderness’ (1971), ‘Juggernaut’ (1974), ‘The Cassandra Crossing’ (1976), ‘Orca’ (1977), ‘Golden Rendezvous’ (1977), ‘The Wild Geese’ (1978), ‘Ravagers’ (1979), and ‘A Game for Vultures’ (1979).

In 1973, Harris got his book of poetry published under the title ‘I, In the Membership of My Days.’ The book was later re-released in an audio LP format, with added self-written songs like ‘I Don’t Know.’

He announced his retirement in the 1980s, but his retirement was only transitory. He starred in ‘The Field’ in 1990, in which he played a farmer who fights to keep his family’s lands. He followed it up with Clint Eastwood’s western film ‘Unforgiven’ (1992).

In 2000, his portrayal of Roman leader ‘Marcus Aurelius’ in Ridley Scott’s Academy Award winning British–American epic historical drama film ‘Gladiator,’ won him critical appreciation. The film also starred Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, and Oliver Reed among others.

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Later, he appeared in movies like Kevin Reynolds’ ‘The Count Of Monte Cristo’ (2002), ‘Kaena: The Prophecy’ (2003), etc. He also played the supporting role of ‘Albus Dumbledore’ in the first two ‘Harry Potter’ films.

Major Work

His portrayal of ‘Frank Machin’ in ‘This Supporting Life’ (1963) is considered to be the most significant work of his career. It was his first starring role and he won the ‘Best Actor Award’ at ‘Cannes Film Festival.’

Awards & Achievements

Harris won many accolades for his acting skills. These accolades include ‘Golden Globe Award’ for ‘Best Motion Picture Actor (Musical/Comedy)’ for ‘Camelot,’ ‘Best Actor Award’ at the 1963 ‘Cannes Film Festival’ for ‘This Sporting Life,’ and ‘Grammy Award’ for ‘Best Spoken Word Recording’ for ‘Jonathan Livingston Seagull.’

Personal Life & Legacy

Harris married Elizabeth Rees-Williams, the daughter of David Rees-Williams, 1st Baron Ogmore, in 1957. The couple had three children: Jared Harris, Jamie Harris, and Damian Harris. They got divorced in 1969.

He then got married to the American actress Ann Turkel in 1974, but this marriage also ended in divorce in 1982.

He died at the ‘University College Hospital,’ London, on 25 October 2002, aged 72. His mortal remains were cremated and the ashes were scattered in the Bahamas.

Facts About Richard Harris

Richard Harris was a talented singer and released several music albums during his career, showcasing his versatile talents beyond acting.

In addition to his acting skills, Richard Harris was also a skilled poet and published a collection of poetry titled "I, in the Membership of My Days."

Richard Harris was known for his love of rugby and even played for the London Irish rugby team in his youth, demonstrating his passion for sports.

Richard Harris was a committed environmentalist and actively supported conservation efforts, showing his dedication to important causes outside of the entertainment industry.

Richard Harris Movies

1. Gladiator (2000)

  (Action, Adventure, Drama)

2. Unforgiven (1992)

  (Drama, Western)

3. This Sporting Life (1963)

  (Sport, Drama)

4. The Guns of Navarone (1961)

  (Adventure, Drama, War, Action)

5. A Man Called Horse (1970)

  (Drama, Western, Adventure)

6. Mutiny on the Bounty (1962)

  (Romance, Drama, Adventure, History)

7. Il deserto rosso (1964)


8. Sibirskiy tsiryulnik (1998)

  (Comedy, Romance, Drama, History)

9. The Count of Monte Cristo (2002)

  (Action, Adventure, Thriller, Romance, Drama)

10. Man in the Wilderness (1971)

  (Adventure, Drama, Western)


Golden Globe Awards
1968 Best Actor - Comedy or Musical Camelot (1967)
Grammy Awards
1974 Best Spoken Word Recording Winner
1969 Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s) Winner

See the events in life of Richard Harris in Chronological Order

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