Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Richard Harris

It's hard to imagine that for a few years in the late 60's/early 70's, Richard Harris was not only a big movie star, but had a hit record and was a sex symbol. At least my mom thought so.

But in 2012, looking at the cover of his Grammy nominated album A Tramp Shining (that included his mega hit, 'MacArthur Park'), it's hard to image the 40-year old, puffy, balding, red-faced bloke as being a 'sex symbol'. And check out the Lennonish sideburns!

Just when 'MacArtuhr Park' was topping the charts, Harris appeared on the 'Mike Douglas Show' for a week (Douglas had a neat tradition of having a co-host for an entire week. John and Yoko did in 1971). My mom watched every episode and so did I. Of course, 'all things British' were cool then. And the reason our moms liked him was that he was their age (40ish), sang well-written sad love songs, and made romantic/serious films (versus James Bond fare). He was a Brit they could be into. The gig as co-host of the Douglas show, the most middle-America talk show of the day, is proof enough.

Harris was riding high off of the film (and soundtrack LP) Camelot about a year before 'MacArthur Park' and he made two movies afterward that I really dug. Ironically, both westerns and both with the words 'A Man' in the title: A Man in the Wilderness and A Man Called Horse.

Harris made a few more albums with less and less success and his film work turned mediocre. Ten years after his heyday, he was making crap like The Wild Geese and Orca.

An interesting Beatles related fact: 'MacArthur Park' was the first #1 record with a running time over seven minutes. The Beatles 'Hey Jude', released just a few months later, was also over seven minutes and an even bigger hit.

Harris is an obscure footnote now. Probably better known for his role in the 'Harry Potter' films where he was just a brittle old man. It's not the way I want to remember him. Because for one brief shining moment in that great late 60's/early 70's era, when celebrities were a little more real, a little more earthy, he was a star!


Blogger Mark Verheiden said...

I thought he was excellent in Unforgiven, later in his career...

7:54 AM  
Blogger John Goins said...

Yes, Unforgiven was his last great role, I think. Such a great cast in that picture.

8:48 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home