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Requiescat In Pace: Harry Anderson

Dan: How did you get appointed to the bench?
Harry: You know Dan, that’s a funny story. It was the mayor’s last day in office and it was a Sunday and my name was at the bottom of the list of a 1,000 candidates. So they start calling folks starting at the top of the list. You see it’s Sunday and no one’s home. So they keep calling down the list, name by name. No one answers. Finally they get down to the bottom of the list and voila.
Lana: You mean you were appointed a judge because…
Harry: I was home.
Night Court, First Season, First Episode

 

 

 

 

As a young lawyer back in the Eighties I loved the zany antics of Night Court.  Harry Anderson as Judge Harry Stone reminded me of a kind-hearted Judge I appeared in front of on a regular basis, and, occasionally, real life court has resembled the chaos of Night Court. Harry Anderson has passed away, too young, at the age of 65.  Dave Griffey at Daffey Thoughts gives us the details:

 

Wow, two figures from my youth, that were seemingly everywhere back in the day, have passed. 

Harry Anderson, the magician who spent more than a few years acting, passed away at the age of 65.
R. Lee Ermey, old gunny and possibly the most famous on screen drill sergeant in movie history, also passed away.  Donald McClarey has a fine tribute here.

Both were iconic images for my generation.  Ermey, a marine vet in real life, came to embody that gruff, grizzly soldier wading into whatever problem he encountered with a club in hand and a sparkle in his eye.

Anderson was everyone’s cool conman.  A magician by trade (and, some suggest, a conman to boot), he stumbled into acting and soon came to demonstrate that level of slick, sleight of hand with a warm heart that anyone might envy.

The funny thing about them both?  Nether were actors by first profession.  They had excelled in other arenas first.  They were not necessarily actors even when they were acting, but were other types who simply played variations of themselves, to a point.

They both stepped out of those confines.  For instance, Anderson played in the TV miniseries based on Stephen King’s IT, and Ermey had a wonderful turn in the movie Dead Man Walking.

But usually they were variations of themselves.  In the hit and critically acclaimed series Night Court (a strange brew of a show to be sure), Anderson basically was Anderson, including his magic and his love of Mel Torme.

Because of that, you can’t help but feel you got to know them more than most actors who play a variety of parts.  You feel you knew them.  And because they both made such a big impact on the pop culture of the day, it’s like losing a couple of old friends.

Rest in peace friends, and my the perpetual light shine upon you both.

Go here to comment.  Enjoy a well earned recess Judge Stone.

 

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Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.

2 Comments

  1. Night Court was the first “sitcom” type show I can remember– and it was actually funny.

    Rest in peace, indeed, and thanks for the entertainment.

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