Great Actor & Hell-Raising Hall-Of-Famer Richard Harris Born On This Day in 1930

The Irish actor Richard Harris, who died in 2002, would have been 85 years old had he lived, which, considering his well known excesses (he diagnosed himself as "excessive-compulsive"), was not likely or maybe even possible. He was one of the most naturally gifted actors of his time, with a reputation as a dissolute drinker, which he shared with his best drinking buddies Peter O'Toole and Richard Burton. Drunk or not, he was a masterful stage and screen actor with a powerful, often menacing presence.

Known in his later years for his role as Dumbledore in the first two Harry Potter movies, he had a much more varied and interesting film career than many of his latter day fans may have realized, starring in big-budget Hollywood films as well as auteurist classics like Lindsay Anderson's THIS SPORTING LIFE (1963) (his breakout role), Antonioni's RED DESERT (1964) and Peckinpah's MAJOR DUNDEE (1965); as well as oddball classics like John Frankenheimer's wiggy comic-book mess 99 & 44/100% DEAD (1974), the interesting mid-'70s Richard Lester films JUGGERNAUT (1974) and ROBIN & MARIAN (1976), surprise hit A MAN CALLED HORSE (1970) and its sequels; and many, many more, a good number of which were not up to his level, but which no doubt helped him with his alimony and bar tabs. The talent and presence were still there though, as he proved in his supporting performance as English Bob (bitter irony that for an Irishman who had faced his share of discrimination at the hands of the English) in Clint Eastwood's 1992 UNFORGIVEN. Along the way he even had a hit record with his version of Jimmy Webb's "MacArthur Park."

Here he is on the popular British interview show PARKINSON in 1973, talking about his life, career, and co-stars. Don't miss his Marlon Brando impression that is at the same time an astute and actorly observation. Follow the links to see the later chapters of the interview.