Actor Harry Anderson

Harry Laverne Anderson (October 14, 1952 – April 16, 2018) was an American actor, comedian and magician. He is best known for his lead role of Judge Harry Stone on the 1984–1992 television series Night Court. He later starred in the sitcom Dave’s World from 1993–1997.

In addition to eight appearances on Saturday Night Live between 1981 and 1985, Anderson had a recurring guest role as con man Harry “The Hat” Gittes on Cheers. He toured extensively as a magician, and did several magic/comedy shows for broadcast, including Harry Anderson’s Sideshow (1987). He played Richie Tozier in the 1990 miniseries It, based on the Stephen King novel of the same name.

Early life

Anderson was born October 14, 1952, in Newport, Rhode Island. He spent much of his youth performing magic on the streets of Chicago, New York, St. Louis and New Orleans before landing in California at the age of 16. After moving to Los Angeles, he joined the Dante Magic Club and worked as a street magician in San Francisco when he was 17. He attended Buena Park High School before graduating from North Hollywood High School in 1970 as class valedictorian. From 1971–1976 he lived in Ashland, Oregon, performing magic and working with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.


Anderson’s many appearances on Saturday Night Live led to his role as Harry “The Hat” Gittes on several seasons of the television sitcom Cheers, and eventually as Judge Harry Stone on the sitcom Night Court. He went on to appear in other television specials and shows, including 12 appearances on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. As a magician, Anderson toured extensively and performed in comedy/magic shows for clubs and broadcast, including Harry Anderson’s Sideshow in 1987. In 1990, he starred in the television adaptation of Stephen King’s It as the adult Richie Tozier. From 1993 to 1997, he starred in the television sitcom Dave’s World, based loosely on the life and columns of humorist Dave Barry.

Together with longtime friend Turk Pipkin, Anderson wrote a book called Games You Can’t Lose: A Guide for Suckers, a collection of gags, cons, tricks and scams. First published in 1989 (ISBN 978-1-58080-086-0, 2001 reprint), it also contains a survey of “Games You Can’t Win” told from an insider’s perspective. He appeared with Criss Angel in a TV special called The Science of Magic, later released on DVD.

In 2000 Anderson hosted the pilot for a potential revival of the panel game show What’s My Line? for CBS primetime.

He moved from Pasadena, California, to New Orleans in 2002. In 2002, he and his second wife, Elizabeth, whom he met in New Orleans while she was bartending, opened a small shop in the French Quarter named “Spade & Archer Curiosities by Appointment” (later named “Sideshow”), selling various “magic, curiosities, and apocrypha”.

In 2005 Anderson opened a nightclub in the French Quarter, Oswald’s Speakeasy, at 1331 Decatur Street at the corner of Esplanade Avenue. He performed a one-man show there called Wise Guy.

Anderson appeared in Hexing a Hurricane, a documentary about the first six months in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. He and his wife sold Oswald’s Speakeasy in October 2006. He continued to present his evening show Wise Guy, originally developed for his theater in New Orleans.

In November 2008, Anderson played himself on an episode of 30 Rock, along with fellow former Night Court cast members Markie Post and Charles Robinson.

In his final years, Anderson appeared in television comedy series such as Comedy Bang! Bang! (2013) and Gotham Comedy Live (2014). His final film portrayal was as Professor Kaman in the 2014 Christian drama film A Matter of Faith.

Personal life

Anderson was a longtime fan of singer Mel Tormé, and his character Judge Stone on Night Court was also a Tormé fan; the singer appeared on the sitcom six times. Night Court creator Reinhold Weege said that Anderson and his character both being Tormé fans was completely coincidental. Anderson was among those who delivered eulogies at the singer’s funeral in 1999.

Anderson was married twice. In 1977 he married Leslie Pollack (b. 1953). They had two children, and divorced in 1999. In 2000 he married Elizabeth Morgan (b. 1973). In 2006, Anderson and his wife moved from New Orleans to Asheville, North Carolina.


In late January 2018, Anderson had a bout of influenza, and subsequently suffered several strokes. On April 16, 2018, he died in his sleep of a stroke due to influenza and heart disease at his home in Asheville, North Carolina, at the age of 65.



Year Title Role Source
1982 The Escape Artist Harry Masters
1988 She’s Having a Baby Harry Anderson Uncredited
2006 Hexing a Hurricane Himself
2014 A Matter of Faith Professor Kaman


Year Title Role Notes
1981–1985 Saturday Night Live Himself 8 episodes
1982–1993 Cheers Harry “The Hat” Gittes 6 episodes
1984–1992 Night Court Judge Harold “Harry” T. Stone 193 episodes; also occasional director and writer
Nominated – Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series (1984–86)
1985 Tales from the Darkside Leon Episode: “All a Clone by the Telephone”
1986 Vanishing America Dog Owner Short Television Film
1988 Tanner ’88 Billy Ridenhour 2 episodes
1988 Spies, Lies & Naked Thighs Freddie TV Movie
1988 D.C. Follies Harry Anderson 01 Episode
1988 The Absent-Minded Professor Professor Henry Crawford Movie (remake)
1990 Mother Goose Rock ‘n’ Rhyme Peter Piper TV Movie
1990 It Richie Tozier Miniseries
1990 Tales from the Crypt Jim Korman Episode: “Korman’s Kalamity”
1992 Parker Lewis Can’t Lose Ronny Ray Rasmussen Episode: “Glory Daze”
1993–1997 Dave’s World Dave Barry 98 episodes
1994 Hearts Afire Dave Barry Episode: “Sleepless in a Small Town”
1996 Night Stand with Dick Dietrick Harry Episode: “UFO Mother Show”
1996 The John Larroquette Show Dr. Gates Episode: “Cosmetic Perjury”
1996 Harvey Elwood P. Dowd TV Movie (remake)
1997 Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman Dr. Klaus “Fat Head” Mensa Episode: “The Family Hour”
1998 Noddy Jack Fable Episode: “The Magic Show”
2002 Son of the Beach Bull Cracker Episode: “The Long Hot Johnson”
2008 30 Rock Himself Episode: “The One with the Cast of Night Court”
2013 Comedy Bang! Bang! Himself Episode: “Rainn Wilson Wears a Short Sleeved Plaid Shirt & Colorful Sneakers”
2014 Gotham Comedy Live Himself Episode: “Harry Anderson”

Video games

Year Title Role Notes
1997 Nightmare Ned Graveyard Shadow Creature / Grampa Ted Needlemeyer Voice
Year Title Info ISBN Source
1982 Wenii: The Intentional Confusers’ Magazine A spoof on the magic magazine
Genii: The Conjurers’ Magazine
1989 Harry Anderson’s Games You Can’t Lose: A Guide For Suckers ISBN 978-0671647278
1993 Harry Anderson: Wise Guy From The Street To The Screen ISBN 978-0915181254
2001 Games You Can’t Lose: A Guide For Suckers ISBN 978-1580800860

External Links

Actor Harry Anderson – Wikipedia

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