Richard Harris Biography

Richard Harris was an Irish actor, singer, director, producer and writer. This biography provides detailed information on his childhood, life, works, achievements & timeline.

Richard Harris
Quick Facts

Birthday: October 1, 1930

Nationality: Irish

Famous: Alcoholics Actors

Died At Age: 72

Sun Sign: Libra

Also Known As: Richard St John Harris

Born in: Limerick City, Irish Free State (now Republic of Ireland)

Famous as: Actor, Singer-Songwriter, Producer, Director

Family:

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

father: Ivan John Harris

mother: Mildred Josephine (Harty) Harris

siblings: 1939-1985), Diarmid (Dermot, Noel William Michael (born 1932), Patrick Ivan (born 1929), William George Harris (born 1942)

children: Damian Harris, Jamie Harris, Jared Harris

Died on: October 25, 2002

place of death: London, England, UK

More Facts

education: Crescent College, London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art

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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, like that of ‘Frank Machin’ in ‘This Sporting Life’, ‘King Arthur’ in ‘Camelot’, an English aristocrat in ‘A Man Called Horse’, a gunfighter in Clint Eastwood’s ‘Unforgiven’, ‘Marcus Aurelius’ in Ridley Scott’s ‘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 and studied performing art there. After working in oblivion, in different theater productions, he got a chance to act in Hollywood movies. ‘This Sporting Life’ in 1953 is considered to be his break out movie as well as the most prominent movie of his career. Harris also worked in some made-for-TV movies and released many albums, since he was also a singer of distinctive talent. He won many accolades for his creative skills, like: Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture Actor (Musical/Comedy) for ‘Camelot’, Best Actor Award at the 1963 Cannes Film Festival and Grammy for Best Spoken Word Recording for ‘Jonathan Livingston Seagull’.

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Richard Harris
Childhood & Early Life
  • Richard Harris was born in Limerick city, Ireland, to Ivan John Harris and Mildred Josephine Harris. He and his siblings: Patrick Ivan, Noel William Michael, Diarmid Dermont and William George Harris were brought up in a middle class household.
  • He attended the Crescent College and was considered as a brilliant rugby player – he played many Munster Junior and Senior Cups for his school team but after contracting tuberculosis, Harris’ athletic career was cut short.
  • He read voraciously for two years while he was recuperating from TB and his ambitions changed after that. He decided he wanted a career in arts and moved to England and 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 briefly in West End theater productions like ‘The Quare Fellow’ in 1956. He spent years in England working in various theater productions.
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Career
  • Harris made his debut with 1959’s ‘Alive and Kicking’, after which he started getting roles in a number of major motion pictures. He did the World War II action adventure ‘The Guns of Navarone’ and ‘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 a 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 but Harris bought the rights to the show and toured in ‘Camelot’ many times in his performance career, which proved to be a success.
  • Harris again gained the confidence of the critics and love of his fans 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 did a BBC TV film adaptation ‘The Snow Goose’. The screenplay by Paul Gallico won a Golden Globe award for Best Movie made for Television and was nominated for a BAFTA award and an 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)’, ‘A Game for Vultures (1979)’, etc.
  • In 1973, Harris got his book of poetry published under the title of ‘I, In the Membership of My Days’. The book was later re-released later in an audio LP format, with added self written songs like, ‘I Don’t Know’.
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  • He took a retirement in the 1980s, but this break was only transitory. He starred in ‘The Field’ in 1990--a farmer fighting to keep his family’s lands. He followed it with the Clint Eastwood western ‘Unforgiven (1992)’.
  • In 2000, the portrayal of Roman leader ‘Marcus Aurelius’ in Ridley Scott’s Academy Award winning British–American epic historical drama film ‘Gladiator’ starring Russell Crowe and Joaquin Phoenix, won him critical appreciation.
  • Later, he appeared in movies like: Kevin Reynolds’s ‘The Count Of Monte Cristo (2002)’, ‘Kaena: The Prophecy (2003)’, etc. He also played the supporting role of ‘Albus Dumbledore’ in the first two of the ‘Harry Potter’ films.
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Major Work
  • The most significant work of Harris’ career is considered to be his role of ‘Frank Machin’ in ‘This Supporting Life (1963)’. It was his first starring role and he won Best Actor Award at Cannes Film Festival.
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Awards & Achievements
  • Harris won many accolades for his creative skills, like: Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture Actor (Musical/Comedy) for ‘Camelot’, Best Actor Award at the 1963 Cannes Film Festival and Grammy for Best Spoken Word Recording for ‘Jonathan Livingston Seagull’.
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Personal Life & Legacy
  • Harris married Elizabeth Rees-Williams, daughter of David Rees-Williams, 1st Baron Ogmore in 1957. The couple had three children together: Jared Harris, Jamie Harris and Damian Harris. They got divorced in 1969.
  • He got married for the second time to the American actress Ann Turkel in 1974 but that marriage also ended in a divorce in 1982.
  • He died at University College Hospital, London, on 25 October 2002, aged 72 and his remains were cremated and ashes were scattered in the Bahamas.
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Trivia
  • He was a longtime alcoholic but became a teetotaler in 1981.
  • He almost died of a cocaine overdose in 1978.
  • This actor died two and a half weeks before the American premiere of his movie ‘Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets’.
  • He was a member of the Roman Catholic Knights of Malta, and was knighted by the Queen of Denmark in 1985.
  • At the 2009 BAFTAs, Mickey Rourke dedicated his Best Actor award to Harris.
  • He was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease in 2002.
  • Some of his albums are: ‘The Yard Went On Forever (1968)’, ‘The Richard Harris Love Album (1972)’, ‘Jonathan Livingston Seagull (1973)’, ‘Mack The Knife (1989)’.
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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. Il deserto rosso (1964)

  (Drama)

6. Sibirskiy tsiryulnik (1998)

  (Comedy, Romance, Drama, History)




7. Mutiny on the Bounty (1962)

  (Romance, Drama, Adventure, History)

8. Man in the Wilderness (1971)

  (Adventure, Drama, Western)





Awards

Golden Globe Awards
1968 Best Actor - Comedy or Musical Camelot (1967)

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How To Cite

Article Title
- Richard Harris Biography
Author
- Editors, TheFamousPeople.com
Website
- TheFamousPeople.com
URL
https://www.thefamouspeople.com/profiles/richard-harris-5089.php
Last Updated
- September 20, 2017

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