Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Richard Harris (actor)
Richard Harris (October 1, 1930 - October 25, 2002) was an Irish actor. Some of his most notable movie appearances were in Camelot (1967), A Man Called Horse (1970) and, at the end of his career, the first two Harry Potter movies. He was a notorious playboy and drinker, part of a rowdy generation of talented British and Irish actors that included Albert Finney, Richard Burton and Peter O'Toole.
He was born in Limerick, Ireland and was schooled by the Jesuits at Crescent College. As a teenager he was a rugby player for Munster, but he had to give up his involvement in sports when he contracted tuberculosis.
After recovering from the disease he moved to London, wanting to become a director. He could not find any suitable courses and enrolled in the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) to learn acting.
In the 1950s he had a number of stage roles. He made his film debut in 1958 in the film Alive and Kicking . For his role in Mutiny on the Bounty, despite being virtually unknown, he insisted on third billing, behind Trevor Howard and Marlon Brando. His first star turn was in the 1963 film This Sporting Life, as a bitter young coal miner who becomes an acclaimed rugby player.
He appeared as King Arthur in the film adaptation of Camelot (in which he was cast despite his limited singing range), and proceeded to appear on stage in that role for years. He recorded several albums, one of which included the seven-minute hit song "MacArthur Park" (which Harris mispronounced as "MacArthur's Park"); that song reached #2 on the United States Billboard magazine pop chart, while topping several charts in Europe, in the summer of 1968.
In 1971, he starred in the film, Man in the Wilderness.
In his late career, he acted in the Oscar-winning films Unforgiven and Gladiator (in the latter as Marcus Aurelius). He gained a new generation of fans as Albus Dumbledore in the first two Harry Potter films.
Harris died of Hodgkin's disease in 2002, weeks after the second Harry Potter film was released.
Academy Award Nominations
- 1964 - Best Actor in a Leading Role - This Sporting Life
- 1991 - Best Actor in a Leading Role - The Field
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