Richard Harris

Pencil Portrait by Antonio Bosano.

Richard Harris Pencil Portrait
To see a larger preview, please click the image.

Shopping Basket

The quality of the prints are at a much higher level compared to the image shown on the left.


A3 Pencil Print-Price £45.00-Purchase

A4 Pencil Print-Price £30.00-Purchase

*Limited edition run of 250 prints only*

All Pencil Prints are printed on the finest Bockingford Somerset Velvet 255 gsm paper.

P&P is not included in the above prices.


last update : 27/6/15

Richard Harris was once quoted as saying “I hate commitment of any kind, and that’s why I’ve got two ex-wives. It scares me.”

This sentiment permeated his entire life; offered the role of Professor Albus Dumbledore in the first Harry Potter movie, he instinctively rejected the project for fear of being saddled with a long-running series and there matters would have ended had it not been for the intervention of his eleven year old granddaughter. Slowly acquiring all those skills of persuasiveness and manipulation that epitomise the female character, she begged him to reconsider and when her overtures proved unsuccessful she applied the ultimate pressure by threatening never to talk to him again if he refused the role.

“What could I do?” moaned Harris. “I wasn’t going to let her down.”

The self admitted hellraiser went before the cameras again and the film was a box-office phenomenon, putting Harris firmly back in the public eye with a whole new generation of fans. The role would prove a fitting last hurrah to a great talent bedevilled with demons.

It is doubtful that he and I would have have become firm fast friends because alcoholics are notoriously cliquey, perceiving wisdom only in those committed to living life on the edge. Nevertheless perhaps there would have been a degree of mutual respect, since I nowadays find myself eschewing more and more crap from my life as I begin the process of transmogrifying into a cantankerous old man. Of course I’m being facetious but the point is clear; getting to the bottom line brings with it a certain inner tranquility whatever the subject matter. I’ve lost count of the interviews I’ve seen with actors and directors describing a film in nauseating detail as a life changing experience. I can even go along with their dialogue up to a point but I need a Richard Harris type to keep this overblown pomposity firmly in place. Speaking in the last year of his life he was moved to say – “Actors take themselves so seriously. Samuel Beckett is important, James Joyce is – they left something behind them. But even Laurence Olivier is totally unimportant. Acting is actually very simple, but actors try to elevate it to an art.”

During the last few years of his life he would often rail against Hollywood and its current roster of stars. When asked about the difference between Tom Cruise now and himself at the height of his fame in the 60’s, he replied “there is a great difference. Look at a photograph of me from the old days and I’m going to one of my film premieres with a bottle of vodka in my hand. Tom Cruise has a bottle of Evian water. That’s the difference, a bottle of Evian water. What I hate about our business today is the elitism. So called stars ride in private jets and have bodyguards and dieticians and beauticians. Tom Cruise is a midget and he has eight bodyguards all 6 feet 10, which makes him even more diminutive. It’s an absolute joke”. Unsurprisingly, the only fellow actor to ever cross his threshold was Sean Connery.

He was essentially a lone figure in an industry that attracts leeches and wannabees. “I have no friends in this business. I don’t go to their clubs, don’t go to their hangouts and don’t mix at all. I am part of the business but I am apart from it. If anyone ever asks my advice, I tell them, ‘Don’t take yourself too seriously’.”

Born Richard St. John Harris on October 1, 1930, in Limerick, Ireland; to a generation of filmgoers, Anglo–Irish star Richard Harris was the leading man of his generation: vigorous, eloquent, and fiercely independent. His movie career was undoubtedly erratic with several stage successes but some notable screen flops, and enjoyed a degree of infamy for his hard–living ways and witty, barb–laden television talk–show appearances. “Although the critics generally had high praise for his acting,” declared his New York Times obituary writer Richard Severo, “some seemed to suggest that Richard Harris the man—noted for his interest in pub crawling, strong spirits, and strong, spirited women—was far more intriguing than most of the scripts he got.” Whilst much of this is true, he was undoubtedly a great raconteur as his 1973 appearance on the “Parkinson Show” ably testifies. In an era where most actors are unlikely to sustain our interest beyond ten minutes he enthrals his audience with recollections of a bygone era and suitably enhances the viewing experience with wry witticisms and abundantly dry observations.

Harris was one of eight children and his father owned a local flour–mill business that later fell on hard times. In his youth, he was a talented rugby player, but at age 22 was struck down by tuberculosis. He read voraciously during his convalescence, and decided that he would like to become a theater director. Unable to find a course in the field, he studied acting at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art instead, and struggled to survive there financially. For a time, he even slept in a coal cellar, the room where coal delivery trucks once dumped fuel briquettes for residential heating. His first successes came on the London stage in the late 1950s, and he soon came to be considered one of Britain’s new “Angry Young Men,” along with Albert Finney, Peter O’Toole, and other rising young actors making a name for themselves in gritty, realist stage and film dramas.

In the early 1960s, Harris won parts in Hollywood films such as ‘The Guns of Navarone’ and ‘Mutiny on the Bounty’, which gave him a chance to work—and trade taunts—with his longtime idol, Marlon Brando. In 1963, he was nominated for an Academy Award for his lead role in ‘This Sporting Life’, about a loutish rugby player, but within a few years would become indelibly associated with ‘Camelot’, the hit stage musical. He reprised his role as the mythical King Arthur in the film version, though the finished product was generally deemed a travesty by most critics. In a savvy move, however, Harris acquired the performance rights to it, which allowed him to live off royalty income for many years.

Fans of Harris consider his role as an English toff seized by the Sioux in the 1970 film ‘A Man Called Horse’ as one of his best, and his career nadir to be ‘Orca, Killer Whale’, a 1977 ocean thriller that cast him alongside Charlotte Rampling and a poorly disguised animatronic cetacean. As the decade progressed, he earned a reputation as a heavy drinker, and it was said that shooting schedules for his films usually had to be extended by at least a week to account for the days Harris would be unable to work. He later admitted to cocaine abuse as well, and claimed to have once tossed thousands of dollars’ worth of it down the toilet in an attempt to break the habit. Twice he had almost died and been given last rites, the Roman Catholic sacrament for those near death, but he eventually curbed his substance–abuse habits to an occasional pint of Guinness.

Harris also enjoyed a riposte–laden, years long war of words with actor Michael Caine. “He makes films you wouldn’t rent on video,” Harris once said of the ‘Blame It On Rio’ star, whilst Caine liked to assert that Harris and Richard Burton had squandered their own thespian talents in the bottle.

Later in his career he enjoyed a bit of a revival, taking parts that cast him in the wise, elder–statesman role. He appeared in Ridley Scott’s ‘Gladiator’ as Marcus Aurelius, and played the benevolent headmaster in the first two Harry Potter movies.

Diagnosed with lymphatic cancer and treated for his illness in London, the daily journey to receive treatment was of little inconvenience to him as he had lived in the city at the Savoy Hotel where he had his own suite that he liked to reach by freight elevator. When the weather turned exceptionally cold, he would invariably repair to his alternative home in the Bahamas.

In 1957 he wed Elizabeth Rees–Williams, the daughter of a lord, with whom he had three sons, and there was also a seven–year marriage to actress Ann Turkel in the 1970s.

It’s difficult to understand why on earth he ever committed himself to a woman for this is the man who once famously said of marriage – “[it’s] a custom brought about by women who then proceed to live off men and destroy them, completely enveloping the man in a destructive cocoon or eating him away like a poisonous fungus on a tree”.

“I have made 72 movies in my life,” quoted him as saying, “and been miscast twice—as a husband.” Harris died on October 25, 2002, in London, England, of Hodgkin’s disease; he was 72. He is survived by his sons from his first marriage: Damien, Jared, and Jamie.

For all his demons and let’s face it, the drinking made him look twenty years older than his actual age, I admired his self effacing ways. Whilst rock stars establish drug rehabilitation centres and schools for the performing arts, Harris had no pretentions to self perpetuating his ‘fame’ beyond the grave -

“I’m not interested in reputation or immortality or things like that…I don’t care what I’m remembered for. I don’t care if I’m remembered. I don’t care if I’m not remembered. I don’t care why I’m remembered. I genuinely don’t care”.

Recommended listening

MacArthur Park—Richard Harris sings the songs of Jimmy Webb (Spectrum compilation 1997)

This CD reissue from England is almost (but not quite) identical to Raven Records’ Richard Harris: The Webb Sessions 1968-69 from Australia, combining the contents of the albums ‘A Tramp Shining’ and ‘The Yard Went on Forever’. The difference is the absence of the last Richard Harris-Jimmy Webb collaboration, “One of the Nicer Things,” which appeared as a free-standing single in 1969. Alan Hodgson’s annotation is slightly less informative than the notes by Jimmy Webb on the Raven CD. On the other hand, this disc is also about $3-$5 cheaper, so budget-minded fans may appreciate it. As for the sound, it is superior to any of the LP versions of ‘A Tramp Shining’, with Webb’s reliance on stereo separation for important timbral effects coming through bright and sharp throughout, a small, muted string orchestra coming up opposite an electric guitar and bass on one song, an electric piano or harpsichord tinkling from one speaker, while a big-scale orchestra pumps out rich horn playing from the other. Moreover, at this late date, the background chorus on “If You Must Leave My Life” sounds amazingly like the Fifth Dimension, their radiant singing and clear, upbeat sound recalls the pop-soul work of that group. Either this CD or the Webb Sessions CD is preferable to the domestic ‘A Tramp Shining ‘CD, which is inferior in sound and packaging.

Camelot (original motion picture soundtrack) 1967

Composed by Lerner and Lowe. Music conducted by Alfred Newman.

Remixed for CD from original multi-track tapes by Lee Herschberg.

A charming soundtrack for a musical that stirred the mind and won over the human spirit in the ’60s. Written as a book and lyrically by Alan Jay Warner, and orchestrated and composed by Frederick Loewe, Camelot is a sincere symbolic look into the radiance and dazzle of Hollywood musical creation during the decade. It is truly a film and score which gave the body of the work room to freely move wherever the emotions cast wished to go. Featured here in this rendition of this popular and esteemed musical are actors and actresses who brought Camelot to rave heights. With the help of Richard Harris, Vanessa Redgrave, Franco Nero, and Dave Hemmings, these individuals shaped and moulded their unique roles with great care and perfection. Left finally to the listeners is a work of joy, compassion, love, romance, charm, humour, wit, and adventure. Alfred Newman is responsible in part of for arranging and conducting Loewe’s composition, and Joshua Logan will not be forgotten for his brilliant stage presence as director. Alan Jay Lerner reflects on how “there was a love for the project that one finds very rarely in theater or motion pictures. There is this ancient legend of hope and an aspiration that has always moved me deeply.” Certainly these are honest and powerful words from one man behind Camelot, someone who felt the program was a delight to work through. In the original legend, King Arthur was to have retired to a cave with his knights, waiting for the world to ask him back. It is a legend centered around the ideals and the original Christian concept of the brotherhood of man. An exciting and joyous musical and play in song and in story, Camelot is a gem made to entertain listeners of all ages.

Recommended viewing

Mutiny on the Bounty (1962)

This colourful remake of the 1935 classic is a visual delight yet pales in comparison to the monochrome sparring between Clark Gable and Charles Laughton. The central theme concerns the treatment of the HMS Bounty by the cold hearted sadistic Captain Bligh (Trevor Howard) who boards the ship in Portsmouth, England, to embark on a mission to bring tropical breadfruit trees to Jamaica. Fletcher Christian (Marlon Brando) is the aristocratic second mate who welcomes the new captain aboard. Christian’s view of the captain sours with the cruel treatment of the crew and the dangerous decision to round Cape Horn. The Bounty sails into the teeth of a ferocious winter storm, yet another in a long line of indignities suffered on the journey and John Mills (Richard Harris) is punished for stealing cheese.

It’s a supporting role for Harris but he excels as the protagonist hell bent on righting the injustices suffered by the crew.

This Sporting life (1963)

Richard Harris stars as Frank Machin, an up-and-coming rugby league star, who initiates an affair with his widowed landlady Margaret Hammond (Rachel Roberts). It’s a fraught, agonized relationship as she regards him with fear and something approaching disgust as he struggles pitifully to escape his social upbringing. He dominates the rugby field but in other surroundings, he’s a fish out of water suppressing his perceived inadequacies with boorish outlandish behaviour and masochistic tendencies. His new found wealth as a professional player leaves Margaret singularly unimpressed and her indifference fuels his alpha male hard drinking personality. Frank craves love but she won’t admit she needs him and makes him feel stupid and brutish. incapable of articulating his frustrations Frank finally succumbs to his instincts and uses violence. Director Lindsay Anderson avoids censorship problems over nudity but nevertheless cuts the sex scenes in a way that makes them shocking and terribly ambiguous. Frank’s idea of romance looks awfully like rape, and he isn’t above knocking a woman in the face.

She can neither leave her husband’s memory in the past nor pick up the threads of her life, yet Frank clings to the hope that he can change her mind. He also longs for a chance to get out of the mines and play rugby league. He gets his chance when he is befriended by the local Rugby club’s talent scout, who arranges a trial for him. Frank sails through the match and is offered professional terms with the club. With the security of the money he thinks he will be able to win over Mrs Hammond so that they can live together properly. He soon becomes the star player of the team, but this is a tough game in every respect and in gaining lots of unwanted attention from the male owners of the club he starts to make himself unpopular.

There’s no uplifting ending but Harris and Rachel Ward are superb in their respective central roles and the movie still delights as a late evening screening.

The Heroes of Telemark (1965)

Where would we all be on sunday afternoons without the endless BBC rescreening of this tale of espionage and adventure set in Norway during World War II? The sheer exhorbitant fees charged by the executors of deceased stars preclude many films being rescreened on terrestrial television and I amuse myself at times second guessing when the 50 most screened movies are due for yet another showing. My late father, bless him, gave me a national daily newspaper complimentary DVD edition of the film several years ago. “I thought you might like to add this title to your collection,” he said with a smile “as it’s probably a fortnight since you last saw it!!!” The film was notable for yet another appearance by the actor Anton Diffring as a cold hearted German military officer. “How on earth did you know he would be in this one as well?” my father would exclaim – “because he’s in every single one!!!” I would reply nonchalantly. We would laugh together – great moments to remember.

In the film, Norway has fallen under Nazi occupation, and a factory is producing “heavy water,” a key ingredient in the manufacture of atomic weapons, under the order of the German military. Knut Straud (Richard Harris), a leading figure in the Norwegian underground, joins forces with scientist Dr. Rolf Pederson (Kirk Douglas), who is working with British intelligence agents to destroy the factory in the hope of keeping the Atomic Bomb out of Axis hands. However, while originally Straud and Pederson are only supposed to infiltrate the factory as a reconnaissance force while awaiting British troops, the English army is forced to retreat from their plans, leaving the Norwegians to destroy the factory and scuttle a shipment of the “heavy water” all by themselves. Inspired by a true story, ‘The Heroes of Telemark’ also features the distinguished English actor Michael Redgrave.

Douglas is unconvincing as a Norweigan but Harris acquits himself well and this popular World War II cinematic entry further enhanced his mainstream credentials; it’s just a shame the widely accepted notion of the Germans developing an atomic bomb was simply a myth as the following link testifies:-

Camelot (1967)

Kennedy’s martyrdom and the collapse of his administration after Dallas resonated deeply within the American psyche, the whole notion of Camelot forever afterwards, as closely associated with the slain President as the mythic qualities of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table.

The last truly successful big budget movie musical of the decade, ‘Camelot’ debued as a stage musical with a score by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Lowe Arthur. Based on ‘The Once and Future King’ by T. H. White, the theatrical production with Richard Burton and Julie Andrews was an instant hit. The film director Joshua Logan, however, remained unconvinced about the two protagonists who had made the Broadway production such a success. Convinced that Burton made for a distracted, absent-minded king and Julie Andrews a rather too wholesome femme fatale as Guenevere, he sought to recast the roles before filming commenced. Burton moved onto ‘The Taming of the Shrew’ whilst Andrews fell from the giddy heights of ‘Mary Poppins’ and those Austrian alps so full of ‘The Sound of Music’ to appear in ‘Star!’, which along along with ‘Paint your wagon’ heralded the demise of the film musical genre.

‘Camelot’ first opened on Broadway in 1960, ran for 873 performances, won four Tony Awards, and when released as a motion picture in 1967, garnered three Academy Awards for Art Direction, Costume Design, and Music Scoring.

The exquisite costumes and sets, Harris’s intensity and the heartbreaking betrayal scene all contribute to a storyline we still care about.

More importantly perhaps, the movie revealed him to be a singer of some considerable feeling and as a result he inaugurated a concurrent musical career, working closely with the songwriter Jimmy Webb, who’d recently scored hits with Glen Campbell. In 1968, Harris would garner comparable radio plays to The Beatles and for a while, he was the biggest actor/musician of all time, surpassing even the achievements of Frank Sinatra.

A man called horse (1970)

Harris was big business by 1970, and free to indulge his artistic sensibilities. A movie and recording star, he would increasingly derail his mainstream appeal with offbeat projects – ‘A Man called Horse’ nevertheless bearing the hallmarks of a quality script. Turkeys would increasingly abound in his choice of film roles as the 70’s progressed, but for now, his credibility remained intact.

A precursor to ‘Dances with Wolves’ (1990) in the way it invites viewers into the mysterious and seemingly cruel world of tribal Native Americans, ‘A Man Called Horse’ follows the plight of British dandy John Morgan (Harris), after being abducted by prairie aboriginals. Kept at first as a beast of burden but surviving every indignity heaped upon him, Morgan slowly wins the hearts and minds of his captors (in particular, former “Miss Universe” Corinna Tsopei as an alluring Sioux squaw), proving his bravery by defending the camp against a Shoshone attack and by undergoing the torturous “Vow to the Sun”. This initiation rite, in which Morgan is suspended from bone daggers stuck through his pectorals and left to hang over night, figured prominently in the film’s marketing, fueling debates about ‘New Hollywood’s’ permissiveness where depictions of sexuality and brutality were given free rein.

The Field (1990)

Harris received his second and final Oscar nomination for his portrayal of ‘Bull’ McCabe, the culmination of an unexpected theatrical and cinematic comeback.

In May 1990, he starred in “Henry IV,” the Luigi Pirandello play about a wealthy man in the 1920’s who spends 20 years adopting the part of the despotic and obscure Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV. It was the first time he had appeared in a straight play in London’s West End in 26 years, since the much-praised 1963 production of ‘Diary of a Madman’, an adaptation of the Gogol short story about a czarist clerk’s descent into insanity. The production was an unexpected hit and won him the Evening Standard Drama Award for best actor, an important London honor. Eighteen curtain calls on opening night after a decade of motion picture duds like ‘Orca the whale” and ‘Gulliver’s travels’ was classic ‘showbusiness’ renaissance. The show’s run was extended three times and closed in October after six months, only because the actor was obliged to observe the non residency rules for income tax purposes; as an Irish citizen, he was a resident of the Bahamas, in order to save on English and American taxes.

The role of Bull McCabe, the formidable Irish patriarch, was not secured on reputation, indeed with his overindulged penchant for the bottle, the film’s director Jim Sheridan required convincing. As Harris confirmed to Glen Harris of The New York Times:

“With some trepidation, I think, Jim offered me a little part in ‘The Field,’ a cameo role as the priest but I told him, I’m going to play Bull McCabe”. Sheridan visited with the beleagured actor who discussed how he envisaged the part ‘quite rationally in my Irish mid-Atlantic accent’. He certainly wasn’t in it for the money, a five year revival run on ‘Camelot’ between 1982 and 1987 had grossed $92 million and Harris had purchased rights to the show from the producers. Unsurprisingly, at the age of sixty, he had no financial need to work.

‘The Field’ is undoubtedly his film, a towering performance that all but consumes him, a shame therefore that the screenplay never escapes its theatrical origins, nor its dramatic ambitions, factors that no doubt harmed his candidacy at the 1991 Oscars ceremony.

The Unforgiven (1992)

Brushing aside two decade’s worth of career killing projects, Harris turned in an outstanding understated turn with this marvelous portrait of the cold blooded killer, English Bob.

The call to arms came via a phone call from Eastwood himself, just as the mercurial Irishman was relaxing in front of the television. Legend has it that he was watching one of Clint’s films at the time. It’s a nice piece of PR and unworthy of in-depth investigation.

Cry the Beloved Country (1995)

Recommended reading

Richard Harris: Sex, Death & the Movies (Michael Feeney Callan) Revised and updated 2004

Richard Harris was a genius whose frenzied existence sometimes overshadowed his enormous talent. Over 45 years, his career spanned small theatrical productions and Hollywood blockbusters. Renowned for his roles in classics like Mutiny on the Bounty, A Man Called Horse, Camelot, The Field, and Unforgiven, Harris’ off-screen drinking and womanizing with fellow hell-raisers Richard Burton and Peter O’Toole also brought him notoriety. Although few people accompanied Harris for any duration on the roller-coaster ride of his life, award-winning writer, director, and fellow Irishman Michael Feeney Callan joined the ride and stayed the course. After striking up a warm friendship with the actor in the mid ’70s, Callan embarked on an authorized biography. To mark Richard Harris’ passing, the author revisited and expanded on his original book to create a fresh and revealing tribute.


The Richard Harris International Film Festival