won't be back for the third Potter
By Jack Matthews
Actor Richard Harris, known to one generation as King Arthur
and the latest as the wizened Prof. Albus Dumbledore in the Harry
Potter movie, died at University College Hospital in London late
last month. He was 72.
tribute from the Harry Potter crew
The director of the Harry Potter films has said Richard Harris's
death feels like losing someone from his own family.
Chris Columbus was paying tribute to the actor who died on
"We're all still in an incredible amount of shock. We
knew Richard was sick but he was such a fighter that somehow
deep down we all expected him to make it and get through it
and be in the third Harry Potter film.
"So it's a complete shock because we've all worked so
closely together. It's like losing a member of your family."
Harris starred as the wise and white-haired wizard Dumbledore
in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and the Chamber
The film's cast and crew made this statement: "Richard
Harris was a remarkable actor and a generous and free spirit.
He will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved him. Our
thoughts and prayers are with his family at this very sad
was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease this year and had undergone
chemotherapy at a private clinic, but his condition was not made
public until just before his death.
At the time,
Harris insisted he'd be well enough to complete his obligation for
three Harry Potter movies. Production on the third film, Harry Potter
and the Prisoner of Azkaban, is scheduled to begin in London in
Not even the
film's director, Chris Columbus, was aware of Harris' illness. Columbus
saw Harris two weeks ago and told a British news agency he looked
frail but sounded strong.
to me: 'If you're thinking about recasting me, I'll kill you!'"
Columbus said. "He says he's going to be back for the third
film, and I said, 'Okay.'"
Oct. 1, 1930, in Limerick, Ireland, trained at the London Academy
of Music and Dramatic Arts and began his career on the British stage.
He had several
strong supporting roles in movies before breaking out with an Oscar-nominated
performance as an ambitiously ruthless rugby player in Lindsay Anderson's
1963 film, This Sporting Life.
playing rugged adventurers and soldiers followed, including a well-regarded
turn as a Confederate officer in Sam Peckinpah's 1965 Major Dundee.
But it was
the role of King Arthur in Joshua Logan's film adaptation of Lerner
and Loewe's Broadway musical Camelot, and his reprisal of the role
in a touring American stage production, that made Harris something
of a middle-age heartthrob.
many of his characters, was a rough-hewn man with a musical voice
and an enormous appetite for life, which encompassed near-fatal
addictions to cocaine and alcohol.
A cocaine overdose
put him off drugs in 1978, and four years later, he took his doctor's
advice that his drinking was life-threatening and gave that up,
The abuse years
paralleled a career slide that had the angular star mugging in a
series of bad action films. But he made a stellar comeback in the
1990 Irish film The Field, which earned him his second Best Actor
Oscar nomination, and went on to deliver indelible performances
in Philip Noyce's Patriot Games, Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven and
Randa Haines' Wrestling Earnest Hemingway.
Then came the
role of Albus Dumbledore in last year's blockbuster adaptation of
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.
disinclined to accept the part, but he told reporters his granddaughter
persuaded him to do it with the threat that she'd never speak to
him again if he didn't. "I thought, 'Well, I can't afford that,"
divorced from his second wife, model Ann Turkel. He's survived by
three sons with his first wife, Elizabeth Harris.