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Article ID: 4840
Age Group: Adult
Posted: October 27th. 2002
Witch Cinema: Richard Harris
by Peg Aloi
Film fans everywhere are feeling a sense of sadness and loss today: Irish actor Richard Harris, known to many pagans for his portrayal of Dumbledore the wizard in the film Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, has died in London at the age of 72 following a brief battle with Hodgkin's Disease. Harris completed filming on Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets just before he fell ill this past summer. He is survived by his 3 sons.
Harris decided to be an actor after he was stricken with TB in his adolescence. Two years of convalescence in a hospital bed led Harris to read the great dramatic literature of the British Isles and Ireland: Joyce, Beckett, Yeats, Dylan Thomas, and D. H. Lawrence. "Really, catching TB was the luckiest thing that ever happened to me, " a BBC obituary quotes him as saying. He decided to train as an actor, and started appearing in bit film parts in 1959. His first lead role in 1962 in This Sporting Life landed him an Oscar nomination; he was also nominated for this prestigious acting award for his portrayal of a crusty Irish tenant farmer in The Field in 1990, which Harris recalled as one of his favorite roles in a recent NPR interview. He played King Arthur in Camelot in 1967 and again on TV in 1982, and many audiences loved him in A Man Called Horse and as English Bob in Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven.
Harris was a romantic, controversial figure: a rough-and-tumble but promising rugby star in his youth (he broke his nose nine times!), and a womanizer and hard drinker during his professional acting days. Although he continued working, a near-death binge in 1982 convinced him to give up drinking, and Harris went on to have a distinguished and productive career right up until his death. He even recorded a Grammy-wining version of the song "Macarthur Park" which sold five million copies! Sadly he will not be able to continue with his role as Dumbledore, but audiences will no doubt remember his portrayal of the wise, doddering 2, 000-year old wizard for many years to come. Rest well, Sir Richard-you lived well.
Media Coordinator - The Witches' Voice
Monday, October, 28th 2002
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