Richard Harris Biography
Born: October 01, 1930
Died: October 25, 2002
Date of Birth: October 1 1930
Date of Death: October 25, 2002
Born in Limerick, Ireland, Richard Harris excelled so well in rugby, it's said he is still remembered in Limerick City for his rugby tackling ability today. Harris studied classical acting at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art and made his stage debut in The Quare Fellow in 1957.
Harris made his screen debut two years later in Alive and Kicking. He would soon land starring roles, but it wasn't until his supporting roles in major films like The Guns of Navarone (1961) and Mutiny on the Bounty (1962), that he began to really be noticed. In 1963, the actor made good use of his rugby skills as a coal miner who aspires to be an athlete in The Sporting Life. The film was a success and earned him a Best Actor award at Cannes and an Oscar nomination.
With Harris's movie career looking up, his stage career went along for the ride, especially after he replaced Richard Burton in a theatrical production of Lerner and Lowe's musical version of Camelot. In 1967, Harris again played King Arthur in the screen adaptation of Camelot, winning a Golden Globe for his performance. At the time, he ranked alongside Sean Connery and Michael Caine as one of the more manly men in international cinema, so watching him sing in such a romantic film tended to surprise his audiences. His singing turned out to be better than expected and the soundtrack ended up raking in more money than the film itself.
Harris further surprised his fans when he released a single of the epic called, "MacArthur Park." The song was an international hit and was the first long-play single to get airplay on AM radio, sparking something of a successful recording career for the actor. In addition, Harris wrote and performed the song "There Are Too Many Saviours On My Cross."
Harris' movie career also continued to rise with the release of his best known film of the '70s, A Man Called Horse (1970). This was a violent western in which he played an English aristocrat who is first tortured, then eventually adopted by the Sioux. The film was a major hit, and spawned two sequels.
Unfortunately, his climb to success came to an end as the decade progressed, and the quality of films in which Harris appeared -- usually in supporting roles -- declined. In the 1980s, he was told by his doctor that he had only 18 months left to live if he didn't stop drinking. Harris took his doctor's advice, the bought the rights to the stage production of Camelot and toured the world with it for five years. In 1990, Harris made a strong film comeback when he was nominated for a Golden Globe and an Oscar for his hard-hitting performance in The Field. He lost the Best Actor award to Jeremy Irons that year, but the nomination was enough to indicate that Harris was back in the saddle.
Throughout the '90s, Harris primarily played character roles in a wide variety of films, including the resident villain of Smilla's Sense of Snow (1997) and famed lion rehabilitator George Adamson in To Walk with Lions (1999). He kicked off the new millennium as the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius in Ridley Scott's epic Gladiator, starring alongside the likes of Russell Crowe, Derek Jacobi, and Joaquin Phoenix.
In 1957, Harris married Elizabeth Rees, with whom he had three sons: Damian, who went on to become a director; and Jared and Jamie, both successful actors. Unfortunately, the marriage ended in divorce after eleven years. In 1974 he met actress Ann Turkel, 25 years his junior, on the set of the Brit flick 99 and 44/100% Dead. They married several months later, but this marriage too, ended in divorce, lasting only seven years.
In 2000, he was offered the role of Professor Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter films, and he accepted, saying that his granddaughter, a fan of the Harry Potter books, threatened never to speak to him again if he turned the role down. Towards the end of filming the second movie, he became ill and was hospitalized, diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease. He died several months later in hospital.