Richard Harris

Richard Harris


Also Known As
Richard St John Harris
Birth Place
Limerick, IE
October 01, 1930
October 25, 2002
Cause of Death
Hodgkin's Disease


An Irish rogue who emerged from England as one of its most accomplished performers, actor Richard Harris typified the angry young man persona of 1960s British cinema, both on and off the screen. Having come into his own as a rough-and-tumble rugby player in "This Sporting Life" (1963), Harris quickly became one of England's preeminent actors, with quality turns in prominent American fil...

Family & Companions

Elizabeth Harris
Married February 9, 1957; divorced 1969; mother of his three sons; daughter of Labor peer Lord Ogmore; later married to actor Rex Harrison in the 1970s.
Ann Turkel
Model, actor. Born c. 1947; married in 1974; divorced in 1981.


"Honor Bound"
Richard Harris (1982)
"Love, Honor, and Dismay"
Elizabeth Harris, Doubleday (1977)
"I, in the Membership of My Days"
Richard Harris, Random House (1974)


Other songs besides "MacArthur Park" which Harris has recorded include "Didn't We" (1969) and "My Boy" (1971).

Harris set up a scholarship at the Universiy of Scranton in Pennsylvania in memory of his brother Dermot.


An Irish rogue who emerged from England as one of its most accomplished performers, actor Richard Harris typified the angry young man persona of 1960s British cinema, both on and off the screen. Having come into his own as a rough-and-tumble rugby player in "This Sporting Life" (1963), Harris quickly became one of England's preeminent actors, with quality turns in prominent American films like "Mutiny on the Bounty" (1962), "Major Dundee" (1965) and the adaptation of the popular musical "Camelot" (1967). Behind the scenes, much like his contemporaries Richard Burton, Peter O'Toole and Oliver Reed, Harris was a student of the bad boy school of talented thespians, with an unquenchable taste for booze and women who never let a bender get in the way of a sterling performance. Because of his experience with "Camelot," Harris embarked on a surprisingly successful singing career that reached its peak when his single, "MacArthur Park," became a big hit in 1968. Following a fine leading turn in "A Man Called Horse" (1970), his acting career began to slide, thanks to a string of rather mediocre genre films and diminishing performances brought on by his worsening alcoholism. After sobering up toward the end of the 1980s, the newly confident actor earned an Oscar nod for his excellent performance in Jim Sheridan's "The Field" (1990). He next chewed up the scenery as the flashy gunman English Bob in "Unforgiven" (1992) before playing Marcus Aurelius in "Gladiator" (2000) and Professor Dumbledore in the first two "Harry Potter" movies. Having died before "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" (2002) was released, Harris left behind a trail of broken bottles and shattered hearts, as well as a legacy of being one of Ireland and England's most important and beloved performers.

Born on Oct. 1, 1930 in Limerick, Ireland, Harris was raised the fifth of nine children by his father, Ivan, owner of a flour mill, and his mother, Mildred. Raised in a staunch Catholic home like any good Irishman, Harris was a talented rugby player for Sacred Heart Jesuit College, who found his playing days cut short after he contracted tuberculosis. Following his recovery, he moved to England determined to be a director, but instead discovered acting when he enrolled at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. He finished his training at the Academy in 1956 and went on to study further at Joan Littlewood's International Theatre Workshop while making his West End stage debut in the workshop's production of "The Quare Fellow" (1956). Harris also financed and directed his own production of Clifford Odet's "Winter Journey" (1956), a critical success that nonetheless flopped financially and left the young actor broke. On the heels of the London stage production of Arthur Miller's "A View from the Bridge" (1956), Harris made his television debut with a small part as a blind Irishman in the "The Iron Harp" (1957). By this time, he had married his first wife, Elizabeth, despite already being a notorious lady's man actively pursuing sexual encounters wherever he could find them.

Harris made his film debut in the British comedy "Alive and Kicking" (1958) while returning to the London stage in a production of "Man, Beast and Virtue" (1958) before embarking on a tour of Eastern Europe and Russia in a production of "Macbeth." Following more prominent parts in "Shake Hands with the Devil" (1959) and "The Wreck of the Mary Deare" (1959), as well as his first leading stage role in a production of "The Ginger Man" (1959), he had a small, but memorable turn as a disagreeable Royal Air Force squadron leader in the all-star war film, "The Guns of Navarone" (1961). He next had major supporting roles in "The Long and the Short and the Tall" (1961) and "Mutiny on the Bounty" (1962), where he and several other actors had famous fallings out with the film's difficult star, Marlon Brando. Harris finally landed his first leading role in a feature with "This Sporting Life" (1963), a gritty and bleak look at the rise of a coal miner-turned-rugby player who amasses considerable wealth while falling for a lonely widow (Rachel Roberts). Widely considered to be one of the best British films ever made, "This Sporting Life" presaged the so-called kitchen sink films to emerge from England a few years later.

Following a starring role in Michelangelo Antonioni's "Il Deserto Rosso" (1964), Harris was an Irish immigrant turned Confederate officer during the Civil War in director Sam Peckinpah's lost masterpiece, "Major Dundee" (1965). In John Huston's epic telling of "The Bible" (1966), Harris portrayed the murderous Cain opposite Franco Nero's Abel before taking over the King Arthur role from drinking buddy Richard Burton for the filmed version of the long-running musical, "Camelot" (1967), which allowed him to display a surprisingly good singing voice. Over the years, he reprised King Arthur in numerous stage productions of the musical, claiming some 2,000 performances while stopping by "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" (NBC, 1962-1992) in 1992. Because of "Camelot," Harris found a second career as a professional singer, thanks to his hit single "MacArthur Park," which climbed all the way to No. 2 on the Billboard charts in 1968. Meanwhile, he starred in "A Man Called Horse" (1970), playing a British lord adrift in the 19th century American West who is captured by the Sioux Indians and eventually allowed to join the tribe. Following a leading turn opposite Sean Connery in the gritty, but underwhelming drama "The Molly Maguires" (1970), Harris faltered a bit with "Cromwell" (1970), a lavish biopic of military leader Oliver Cromwell, who temporarily overthrew England's monarchy in the 17th century.

If the 1960s were a fountain of success for the actor, the following decade proved to be a comedown for Harris, who saw himself cast in a number of mediocre projects while his personal life - particularly his struggles with alcohol and drugs - spiraled out of control. He starred in such misfires as "Man in the Wilderness" (1971) and "The Deadly Trackers" (1973), before joining the all-star cast of the disaster flick "Juggernaut" (1974), starring Omar Sharif and Anthony Hopkins. After playing a hitman in John Frakenheimer's bizarre crime thriller "99 and 44/100 Percent Dead" (1974), Harris portrayed King Richard the Lionheart in "Robin and Marian" (1976) before joining Sophia Loren, Ava Gardner and Martin Sheen for the rather middling disaster thriller, "The Cassandra Crossing" (1976). Harris fared well when he starred in the sequel "The Return of a Man Called Horse" (1976), but perhaps hit bottom as an obsessive whaler in the irredeemable "Jaws" rip-off, "Orca" (1977). He next joined fellow Brits Roger Moore and Richard Burton for the action-packed yarn "The Wild Geese" (1978), only to find himself hamming his way through such dreadful movies like the Canadian-made "Highpoint" (1979) and "The Ravegers" (1979).

By this point in his life, Harris had reached rock bottom both personally and professionally, thanks in large part to his insatiable desire for excessive drinking that often led to blacking out. In fact, he had a major scare in 1978 when he suffered a near-fatal cocaine overdose and was rushed to Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. Following another onscreen embarrassment with "Tarzan, the Ape Man" (1981), a simply awful movie that focused more on Jane Parker (Bo Derek) than the famed titular character (Miles O'Keeffe). Having survived his cocaine overdose and a fallow onscreen period, Harris proceeded to kick his longstanding alcohol addiction and found a career jump-start when an ill Richard Burton asked him to finish the final eight weeks of a "Camelot" tour in 1982. Harris eventually stayed with the show for five years, buying out the show's original producers and netting himself a tidy profit. In 1982, he finally gave up drinking altogether after being told by doctors that he would die of hypoglycemia within 18 months if he failed to quit. Following a period of relative inaction, a confident Harris returned to the London stage in a triumphant production of "Henry IV" in 1989, while his screen career received a boost when he played a white-haired curmudgeon determined to hold onto his property in "The Field" (1990), directed by fellow Irishman, Jim Sheridan. The role earned Harris an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.

Harris moved on to a triumphant 1990 London run of "Henry V" that won several awards before landing the flashy supporting role of hired gun English Bob in Clint Eastwood's Oscar-winning Western, "Unforgiven" (1992). He followed with a leading role as a robust blowhard of a sea captain who delights in telling of his "Wrestling Ernest Hemingway" (1993), before a turn as an African landowner whose son is killed by his neighbor's son in "Cry, the Beloved Country" (1995), co-starring James Earl Jones. Harris next took off for Dublin to film the two dramas, "Trojan Eddie" (1997) and "This Is the Sea" (1997), before offering nuanced performances in a variety of genre films like "The Hunchback" (1997), "To Walk With Lions" (1999) and "Grizzly Falls" (1999). He was particularly memorable as Marcus Aurelius, the aged benevolent Roman Emperor who treated his favored general Maximus (Russell Crowe) like a son, only to be betrayed and murdered by his own offspring (Joaquin Phoenix) in the Oscar-winning epic, "Gladiator" (2000). The actor was next discovered by a new generation of fans when he assumed the key role of the wise Professor Albus Dumbledore in the film adaptation of author J.K. Rowling's smash children's book, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" (2001).

Harris followed with a leading role in the British crime thriller "My Kingdom" (2002) and played the innocent Abbe Faria in the compelling adaptation of Alexandre Dumas' "The Count of Monte Cristo" (2002). Meanwhile, he had already filmed his performance for "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" (2002) and signed on for the third installment - which he did after his young niece reportedly refused to speak to him ever again if he did not - when news broke in October 2002, about a month before the release of the "Harry Potter" sequel, that the actor was being treated for Hodgkin's Disease in a London hospital. Approximately two weeks later, on Oct. 25, 2002, Harris succumbed to the disease. After his death, the actor was featured in his final on-camera role, appropriately in another splashy historical epic, as Lucius Cornelius Sulla in the made-for-cable miniseries "Julius Caesar" (TNT, 2003). Ever upfront and self-deprecating about his hard-living past, the legendary belter once suggested his own epitaph: "Get laid, get pissed, move on." Instead, his body was cremated and his ashes spread in the Bahamas where he had owned a home.



Cast (Feature Film)

Kaena: The Prophecy (2004)
Voice Of Opaz
The Count of Monte Cristo (2002)
Abbe Faria
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)
Albus Dumbledore
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001)
Albus Dumbledore
My Kingdom (2001)
Gladiator (2000)
Marcus Aurelius
Grizzly Falls (1999)
Old Harry
To Walk With Lions (1999)
The Barber of Siberia (1999)
Douglas Mccracken
This is the Sea (1997)
Old Man Jacobs
Smilla's Sense Of Snow (1997)
The Hunchback (1997)
Trojan Eddie (1996)
John Power
Cry, The Beloved Country (1995)
Savage Hearts (1994)
Silent Tongue (1993)
Prescott Roe
Wrestling Ernest Hemingway (1993)
Patriot Games (1992)
Unforgiven (1992)
Ruby Dreams (1990)
The Field (1990)
Bull Mccabe
King of the Wind (1990)
King George Ii
Mack the Knife (1989)
Mr Peachum
Martin's Day (1984)
Martin Steckert
Triumphs of a Man Called Horse (1982)
Tarzan, The Ape Man (1981)
Finishing Touch (1981)
Game For Vultures (1979)
David Swansey
The Last Word (1979)
Danny Travis
The Ravagers (1979)
Highpoint (1979)
Louis Kinney
The Wild Geese (1978)
Gulliver's Travels (1977)
The Cassandra Crossing (1977)
Golden Rendezvous (1977)
Robin And Marian (1976)
The Return Of A Man Called Horse (1976)
John Morgan
Orca (1976)
Echoes Of A Summer (1976)
Eugene Striden
99 and 44/100% Dead (1974)
Juggernaut (1974)
The Deadly Trackers (1973)
Man in the Wilderness (1971)
Zachary Bass
The Molly Maguires (1970)
James McParlan/McKenna
Cromwell (1970)
Oliver Cromwell
A Man Called Horse (1970)
Lord John Morgan
Camelot (1967)
King Arthur
Caprice (1967)
Christopher White
The Bible...In the Beginning (1966)
Hawaii (1966)
Rafer Hoxworth
The Heroes of Telemark (1966)
Knut Straud
Major Dundee (1965)
Capt. Benjamin Tyreen
Red Desert (1965)
Corrado Zeller
I Tre Volti (1965)
The Heroes of Telemark (To Be Deleted) (1965)
Knut Straud
Alive and Kicking (1964)
This Sporting Life (1963)
Frank Machin
Mutiny on the Bounty (1962)
John Mills
The Long and the Short and the Tall (1961)
Corporal Johnstone
The Guns of Navarone (1961)
The Night Fighters (1960)
Sean Reilly
The Wreck of the Mary Deare (1959)
Shake Hands with the Devil (1959)
Terence O'Brien

Writer (Feature Film)

The Lady in the Car With Glasses and a Gun (1970)
On the Run (1967)
Attempt To Kill (1966)
The Main Chance (1966)
Strongroom (1962)
Original idea
Strongroom (1962)

Producer (Feature Film)

The Return Of A Man Called Horse (1976)
Executive Producer
Echoes Of A Summer (1976)
Executive Producer

Editing (Feature Film)

The Christian Licorice Store (1971)
Chandler (1971)
Film Editor

Music (Feature Film)

Trojan Eddie (1996)
Song Performer ("Don'T Laugh At Me 'Cos I'M A Fool")
Echoes Of A Summer (1976)
Echoes Of A Summer (1976)
Song Performer ("The Last Castle")
Navy Wife (1956)
Music Editor
The Animal World (1956)
Music Editor
The Magnificent Matador (1955)
Music Editor
The Big Sky (1952)
Music Editor

Cast (Special)

The AFI's 100 Years... 100 Stars (1999)
The Great Kandinsky (1995)
The 49th Annual Tony Awards (1995)
The 16th Annual Cable ACE Awards (1995)
51st Annual Golden Globe Awards (1994)
Eastwood & Co. Making "Unforgiven" (1992)
The 19th Annual American Film Institute Life Achievement Award: A Salute to Kirk Douglas (1991)
The 17th Annual People's Choice Awards (1991)
Freedomfest: Nelson Mandela's 70th Birthday Celebration (1988)
Lerner & Loewe: Broadway's Last Romantics (1988)
Camelot (1982)
King Arthur
Burt Bacharach in Shangri-La (1973)
The Snow Goose (1971)
Victory (1960)

Cast (TV Mini-Series)

Caesar (Part 1/Part 2) (2003)
Abraham (1994)
Maigret (1988)
Inspector Jules Maigret

Life Events


Appeared in the London stage production of "A View from the Bridge"


Produced and directed a stage production of "Winter Journey"


West End stage debut in Joan Littlewood's production of "The Quare Fellow" at the Royal Stratford


Made English TV debut in "The Iron Harp"


Film debut in "Alive and Kicking"


Toured Eastern Europe and Russia in a production of "Macbeth" (date approximate)


Returned to the London stage in "Man, Beast and Virtue"


Played first leading role on the London stage in "The Ginger Man"


Earliest US TV work includes a supporting role in an NBC adaptation of Joseph Conrad's "Victory"


Played largest screen roles to date (second and third leads) in "The Long and the Short and the Tall" and "Mutiny on the Bounty"


First leading role, "This Sporting Life"


First foreign-language film, "Red Desert"


Recorded hit song, "MacArthur's Park"


Film directing debut, "Bloomfield" (also co-wrote and starred)


Executive produced two films: "Echoes of a Summer/The Last Castle" and the sequel film, "Return of a Man Called Horse"; starred in both, and wrote and performed the song "The Last Castle" in the former


Overdosed on cocaine; rushed to intensive care unit of Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles


Reprised film role of King Arthur in "Camelot" in an HBO TV production


Overcame alcoholism


Film comeback, "The Field"


Made London stage comeback with Pirandello's "Henry IV" in London; first appearance in a straight drama in London's West End since the 1963 production of Gogol's "Diary of a Madman"


Played English Bob in Clint Eastwood's "Unforgiven"


Teamed with James Earl Jones in the remake of "Cry, the Beloved Country"


Essayed an aging Irish gangster in "Trojan Eddie"


Appeared as Andreas Tork in "Smilla's Sense of Snow"


Cast as Dom Frollo in TNT production of "The Hunchback"


Starred as George Adamson in "To Walk with Lions"


Appeared as "Old Harry," the elder version of the lead character, in "Grizzly Falls"


Starred in film adaptation of John Steinbeck's "The Pearl" (unreleased)


Co-starred as the benevolent Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius in the OScar-winning film "Gladiator"


Played aged, powerful head of a criminal dynasty in "My Kingdom"


Played the benevolant wizard Dumbledore in "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone"


Thanks to digital technology, played the ghost of Hamlet's father in a New Jersey Shakespeare Festival staging of "Hamlet", starring son Jared Harris


Co-starred in the remake of "The Count of Monte Cristo"


Reprised role of Dumbledore in "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets"

Photo Collections

Robin and Marian - Movie Posters
Robin and Marian - Movie Posters
Mutiny on the Bounty (1962) - Pressbook
Here is the original campaign book (pressbook) for MGM's Mutiny on the Bounty (1962). Pressbooks were sent to exhibitors and theater owners to aid them in publicizing the film's run in their theater.


Movie Clip

Major Dundee (1965) -- (Movie Clip) The Major Ain't No Lawyer Now in Mexico, chasing the Apache and short on supplies, Charlton Heston (title character) with Graham (Jim Hutton) on artillery and scout Sam (James Coburn), enters a village loosely occupied by French imperial troops, where Senta Berger (as Teresa) makes her first appearance, and Tyreen (Richard Harris), head of the consrcripted Confederate troops, takes a different approach, in Sam Peckinpah’s Major Dundee, 1965.
Major Dundee (1965) -- (Movie Clip) Open, I'm A Long Way From Gettysburg Intense tones of racial hatred, subject matter that would have spoken to director and co-writer Sam Peckinpah, narration by Marvin Miller, and an introduction to Charlton Heston, the title character, and James Coburn as his scout, opening the generally-panned Major Dundee, 1965, also starring Richard Harris.
Major Dundee (1965) -- (Movie Clip) It Was A Duel Of Honor Union Major Dundee (Charlton Heston) and the Irish-born Confederate Tyreen (Richard Harris) re-open old wounds and inflict new ones in this early scene from director Sam Peckinpah's Major Dundee, 1965.
Red Desert (1965) -- (Movie Clip) The Gears Still Don't Quite Mesh In the plant in Ravenna, we meet engineer Ugo (Carlo Chionetti), Richard Harris his guest Zeller, looking to hire workers, when Ugo's wife Giuliana (Monica Vitti), whom we've seen crossing the industrial landscape, appears, and whom they discuss later, in Michelangelo Antonioni's Red Desert, 1965.
Red Desert (1965) -- (Movie Clip) Maybe Light Blue's Better Businessman Zeller (Richard Harris) visiting Ravenna, for no stated reason stops by the site of the shop being set up by neurotic Giuliana (Monica Vitti), the wife of his business contact, director Michelangelo Antonioni and his art director Piero Poletto at work, in Red Desert, 1965.
Bible: In The Beginning... The (1966) -- (Movie Clip) Children Of Eve Now past Creation, the Garden of Eden and original sin, John Huston continues directing and narrating, introducing the first promoted actor, Richard Harris as Cain, and then-unknown Italian still photographer Franco Nero as Abel, in The Bible: In The Beginning…, 1966.
Man In The Wilderness (1971) -- (Movie Clip) Zach Fought Against Life John Huston as Captain Henry, leader of the hunting expedition, instructs Lowrie (Dennis Waterman), being left behind to monitor the presumed death of bear-attack victim Zach (Richard Harris, experiencing a flashback), along with the less patient Fogerty (Percy Herbert), in Man In The Wilderness, 1971, based on the same story asThe Revenant, 2015.
Man In The Wilderness (1971) -- (Movie Clip) Sorrow Never Helped Anyone Precisely the scene made famous with Leonardo DiCaprio in Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu’s Academy Award-winner The Revenant, 2015, based roughly on the same uncorroborated story, of trapper Hugh Glass, Richard Harris in the lead role, attacked by a bear near the Upper Missouri, ca. 1820, in Man In The Wilderness, 1971.
Man In The Wilderness (1971) -- (Movie Clip) I Should've Been There Finally regaining consciousness, left for dead by his hunting expedition companions along the Upper Missouri, Richard Harris as Zach Glass recalls his wife Grace (Prunella Ransome), and tries to improve his condition, in Man In The Wilderness, 1971, directed by Richard C. Sarafian.
Mutiny On The Bounty (1962) -- (Movie Clip) You'd Best Join My War In a storm at sea, Captain Bligh (Trevor Howard) awakens and overrides the orders of Christian (Marlon Brando) causing the death of a sailor and a big spat, in the director Lewis Milestone's remake of Mutiny On The Bounty, 1962.
Mutiny On The Bounty (1962) -- (Movie Clip) A Matter Of Supernatural Indifference As Tahiti comes into view, Captain Bligh (Trevor Howard) lectures Mr. Christian (Marlon Brando) and crew on the natives, followed by spectacle, in Mutiny On The Bounty, 1962.
Mutiny On The Bounty (1962) -- (Movie Clip) Too Busy To Eat Marlon Brando (as Fletcher Christian) with a close eye on Maimiti (Tarita, who became Mrs. Brando) then chat among the sailors (Gordon Jackson, Richard Harris, Hugh Griffith) during island festivities in Mutiny On The Bounty, 1962.



Ivan Harris
Flour mill owner.
Dermot Harris
Record and film producer. Died of a heart attack on November 12, 1986 at age 47; previously married to actor Cassandra Harris with whom he had two children, Charlotte and Christopher; she later wed actor Pierce Brosnan.
Damian Harris
Director. Born in 1958; mother, Elizabeth Harris.
Jared Harris
Actor. Born in 1961; mother, Elizabeth Harris.
Jamie Harris
Actor. Born in June 1963; mother, Elizabeth Harris.


Elizabeth Harris
Married February 9, 1957; divorced 1969; mother of his three sons; daughter of Labor peer Lord Ogmore; later married to actor Rex Harrison in the 1970s.
Ann Turkel
Model, actor. Born c. 1947; married in 1974; divorced in 1981.


"Honor Bound"
Richard Harris (1982)
"Love, Honor, and Dismay"
Elizabeth Harris, Doubleday (1977)
"I, in the Membership of My Days"
Richard Harris, Random House (1974)


Other songs besides "MacArthur Park" which Harris has recorded include "Didn't We" (1969) and "My Boy" (1971).

Harris set up a scholarship at the Universiy of Scranton in Pennsylvania in memory of his brother Dermot.

Speaking of his 1978 cocaine overdose, Harris notes, "The doctor told me [that] . . . if my body, my cardiovascular system, hadn't been so strong, I'd have been dead. So I went home and flushed $5000 of cocaine down the toilet." --quoted in The New York Times, December 16, 1990.

Harris also reports how he overcame alcoholism: "My doctor told me I had hypoglycemia and that soon I'd been going into insulin shock and die if I didn't stop drinking. It was in August 1982, and I was with my mates at the Jockey Club one night, and I had them serve us two bottles of Chateau Margaux--$370 a bottle they were. When the last bottle was empty, and I had this much left in my glass, I looked at my watch, and it was 20 past 11, and I said, 'This is my last drink.' And I never touched the stuff again." --quoted in The New York Times, December 16, 1990.

Harris fell ill in August 2002 after filming the second Harry Potter film, "The Chamber of Secrets," and went to a hospital suffering with a severe chest infection, He had been in University College Hospital, central London for two months, where he has had a course of chemotherapy for Hodgkin's disease. According to his agent Sharon Thomas Harris responded extremely well to the treatment.