Richard St. John Harris (October 1, 1930 — October 25, 2002) was an Irish actor and singer, best known for his roles in the kitchen sink drama This Sporting Life, the westerns Major Dundee opposite Charlton Heston, A Man Called Horse and Unforgiven opposite Clint Eastwood, the 1967 musical adaptation of Camelot (where he played King Arthur opposite Vanessa Redgrave as Queen Guenevere and her long time love Franco Nero as Lancelot), Oliver Cromwell in Cromwell, The Molly Maguires opposite Sean Connery, Gladiator opposite Russell Crowe, and as the original Albus Dumbledore in the first two Harry Potter film adaptations a role he originally turned down but then took when his then 11-year-old granddaughter threatened never to speak to him again if he didn't. Originally a rugby player with great promise, he was forced to change careers due to a bout with tuberculosis as a teenager. Off screen he was known for being an ornery rebel who loved a good drink as much as he did literature his drinking buddies were none other than Peter O'Toole and Richard Burton. He mellowed in his later years and tended to play a lot of wise and occasionally eccentric old man roles, and was said to have enjoyed telling stories to the cast and crew of his later films often picking up right where he left off between takes.
Also one of the more unlikely examples of a One-Hit Wonder. His rendition of the seven-minute-long Jimmy Webb song "MacArthur Park" became a big surprise hit in 1968. He actually recorded several albums and scored a few more minor hits, but never quite repeated his initial musical success.
Harris died of Hodgkins disease in 2002, aged 72. Married twice, Harris had three sons with his first wife, all of whom followed in his footsteps and became actors themselves Damian, Jared, and Jamie.
Films featuring Richard Harris which have their own pages on this wiki include:
- The Guns of Navarone (1961) - Squadron Leader Barnsby
- Mutiny on the Bounty (1962) - Seaman John Mills
- This Sporting Life (1963) - Frank Machin
- Il deserto rosso (1964) - Corrado Zeller
- Major Dundee (1965) - Lt. Benjamin Tyreen
- The Bible (1966) - Cain
- Camelot (1967) - King Arthur
- A Man Called Horse (1970) - John Morgan
- Cromwell (1970) - Oliver Cromwell
- The Molly Maguires (1970) - James McParland
- Man in the Wilderness (1972) - Zachary Bass
- Juggernaut (1974) - Anthony Fallon
- Robin and Marian (1976) - King Richard I
- Orca (1977) - Nolan
- The Wild Geese (1978) - Captain Rafer Janders
- Tarzan, the Ape Man (1981) - Dr. James Parker
- The Field (1990) - Bull McCabe
- Patriot Games (1992) - Paddy O'Neill
- Unforgiven (1992) - English Bob
- Gladiator (2000) - Emperor Marcus Aurelius
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (2001) - Professor Albus Dumbledore
- The Count of Monte Cristo (2002) - Abbe Faria
- Julius Caesar (2003) - Lucius Cornelius Sulla
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002) - Professor Dumbledore. The film is dedicated to him.
- Fake Nationality: His English drama school training saw him playing quite a few Britons (like a Yorkshireman in This Sporting Life, Historical Domain Characters like King Arthur & Oliver Cromwell & Richard I, and the appropriately-named English Bob in Unforgiven) with the occasional American or non-British Commonwealther (like an Australian air force pilot in The Guns of Navarone)
- Star-Making Role: Though he had supporting roles in a few films like The Wreck of the Mary Deare and The Guns of Navarone before, This Sporting Life put Harris on the map.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: In the roles where isn't playing an Irishman, his put-on accent tends to slip away when he gets especially emotional or heated.