Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The Late Great Harry Anderson

Harry Anderson, the magician and actor who starred in the classic sitcom Night Court and played a recurring character on Cheers, died on April 16 2018 at the age of 65.

Harry Anderson was born on October 14 1952 in Newport, Rhode Island. His family moved frequently when he was growing up, so that he lived in such cities as Chicago, New York, St. Louis, and New Orleans. He was 16 when his family moved to California. It was there that he became a professional magician, practising his skills in Los Angeles and making a living as a street magician in San Francisco. In his late teens and early twenties he travelled the country performing magic. It was in Austin, Texas that he met the juggler named Turk Pipkin. The two formed a partnership and performed around the United States. Mr. Pipkin would later guest star on Night Court.

Harry Anderson's success as a magician led to appearances on The Mike Douglas Show and Saturday Night Live. His appearances on Saturday Night Live led to him being cast in the recurring role of Harry the Hat on Cheers. His turn as Harry the Hat led to him being cast as Judge Harry Stone on the hit sitcom Night Court. He was nominated three times for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for the role. Night Court ran for nine seasons. In the Eighties he also guest starred on such shows as Tales from the Darkside, The Magical World of Disney, and Tales from the Crypt. He appeared in the television mini-series It. Mr. Anderson also appeared in the movies The Escape Artist  (1982) and She's Having a Baby (1988).

Following Night Court he starred as Dave Barry in Dave's World, which ran for four seasons. In the Nineties he also guest starred on such shows as Parker Lewis Can't Lose, Hearts Afire, Night Stand, The John Larroquette Show, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Noddy, and Explore Our World. He appeared in a television adaptation of the play Harvey.

In 2002 Mr. Anderson moved to New Orleans where he opened a magic and curiosity shop. In 2005 he opened a nightclub called Oswald's Speakeasy. In the Naughts he guest starred on the shows Son of the Beach and 30 Rock. He and his wife attempted to remain in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, but eventually moved to Asheville, North Carolina. Harry Anderson made his last appearance on screen in the film A Matter of Faith in 2014.

Harry Anderson was marvellous in the roles of Harry the Hat on Cheers and Judge Harry Stone on Night Court. Between the two shows he created two of the most memorable characters to emerge on television in the Eighties. He also appeared in other memorable roles, including the absent-minded Professor Henry Crawford on The Magical World of Disney and Richie Tozier in the mini-series It. As good as he was as an actor, Mr. Anderson always considered himself a magician first. And he was a very good magician. When it came to slight-of-hand perhaps no one matched Harry Anderson. With a quick and easy delivery, when it came to magic, Mr. Anerson's hand was definitely quicker than most people's eyes. Enormously gifted as both a magician and an actor, it is sad to know that he is gone.


Caftan Woman said...

Indeed it is sad to learn Harry Anderson is gone. Something about him was so approachable that of all the friends we make from TV, he is one who seemed genuine.

Quiggy said...

This escaped my notice. I watched Night Court every week.