Harry Laverne Anderson, born on October 14, 1952, and died on April 16, 2018, was an American actor, comedian and magician. He was best known for the lead role of Judge Harry Stone on the 1984 to 1992 television series Night Court, and later starred in the sitcom Dave’s World from 1993 to 1997. Take a look below for 25 more interesting and fascinating facts about Harry Anderson.
1. 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, toured extensively as a magician, and did several magic and comedy shows for broadcast, including Harry Anderson’s Sideshow.
2. He played Richie Tozier in the 1990 miniseries It, based on the Stephen King novel of the same name.
3. Anderson was born in Newport, Rhode Island.
4. He was drawn to the art of magic in his youth and, after moving to Los Angeles, practiced his skills often.
5. He joined the Dante Magic Club in his teens and reportedly made money as a street magician in San Francisco when he was 17 years old.
6. Anderson graduated from North Hollywood High School in 1967 as class valedictorian.
7. From 1971 to 1976, Anderson lived in Ashland, Oregon, performing magic and working with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
8. 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.
9. He appeared with Criss Angels in a television special called The Science of Magic, which was later released on DVD.
10. 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.
11. Anderson kept a nominally low profile after Dave’s World was canceled.
12. 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, selling various, “magic, curiosities and apocrypha.”
13. In 2000, Anderson hosted the pilot for a potential revival of the classic panel game show What’s My Line? for CBS primetime.
14. In 2005, Anderson opened a nightclub in the French Quarter called Oswald’s Speakeasy, located at 1331 Decatur Street at the corner of Esplanade Avenue.
15. His former wife, Leslie, is a certified witch.
16. Anderson incorporates pickpocket techniques in his magic act.
17. Before he became an actor, he taught a course on how to detect frauds and confidence artists.
18. He was reportedly once a Three Card Monte dealer on New York City streets.
19. When appeared on Saturday Night Live in 1982, he performed a “geek trick” by sticking a long needle through the skin of his forearm. He said to some squeamish audience members, “It’s just a trick!” Then to show that it wasn’t “real,” he moved the needle back and forth and blood began to pour out of the “wound.”
20. Before television and movies, Anderson was a live performer for the Green Show at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon.
21. He and his wife survived Hurricane Katrina by remaining in New Orleans but have planned to migrate to Asheville, North Carolina.
22. Anderson appeared in Hexing a Hurricane, a documentary about the first six months in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
23. Anderson was a longtime fan of singer Mel Torme and his character, Judge Stone, on Night Court was also a Torme fan.
24. Anderson was among those who delivered eulogies at Mel Torme’s funeral in 1999.
25. In late January, 2018, Anderson had a bout of influenza, and subsequently suffered several strokes. On April 16, 2018, Anderson died in his sleep of a cardioembolic cerebrovascular accident complicated by influenza at his home in Asheville at the age of 65.