Richard Harris

Last updated on the 7 June 2024 by Evandrus

Richard Harris headshot

Mini Biography

Born: 1 October 1930, Limerick, Ireland. 

Richard Harris was an Irish force of nature on both stage and screen. His early life in Limerick, Ireland, was steeped in athletics. A talented rugby player, his dreams were shattered by a bout of tuberculosis in his teens. This forced a change of course, leading him to the world of theatre.

Drawn to the stage, Harris attended the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. He quickly found success in British theatre, becoming a key figure in the burgeoning British New Wave movement. His raw talent and captivating intensity shone in plays like “The Quare Fellow” and “The Ginger Man.” This intensity translated seamlessly to film in the late 50s, with Harris appearing in movies like “Shake Hands with the Devil” and “The Guns of Navarone.”

This Sporting Life - Richard Harris
This Sporting Life – Richard Harris

The turning point came in 1963 with “This Sporting Life.” Here, Harris embodied the working-class rage and vulnerability of a struggling rugby player. His performance earned him an Oscar nomination and cemented his status as a leading man. He followed this with iconic roles in films like “Camelot,” where he brought a brooding sensuality to King Arthur and “A Man Called Horse,” showcasing his commitment to physical transformation.

Richard Harris wasn’t afraid to take risks. He tackled controversial roles like the complex Irish revolutionary in “The Molly Maguires” and the cannibalistic explorer in “Cry, the Beloved Country.” He also captivated audiences with his voice, recording a hit song, “MacArthur Park,” and lending his powerful narration to audiobooks, winning a Grammy for his reading of Dylan Thomas’ “Under Milk Wood.”

Despite his professional success, Harris’ personal life was often turbulent. A notorious drinker and free spirit, he battled personal demons throughout his career. However, his talent never dimmed. He delivered powerful performances later in life in films like “The Field,” which earned him another Oscar nomination, and “Gladiator,” where he brought gravitas to the role of Marcus Aurelius.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - Richard Harris (Albus Dumbledore) and Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – Richard Harris (Albus Dumbledore) and Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter)

Among Richard Harris’ final film appearances were the first two “Harry Potter” movies, where he portrayed the wise and eccentric headmaster, Albus Dumbledore. He passed away in 2002, leaving behind a legacy of raw talent, unforgettable performances and a life lived on his own terms. Richard Harris was a true legend of Irish cinema, a man who burned brightly on screen and left audiences forever captivated.


Suggested viewing


Cromwell (1970)

Cromwell poster

Bftv 8.5 / IMDb 7.0

A devout Englishman wrestles with his conscience as he leads a rebellion against a tyrannical king. Fuelled by religious fervour and a desire for reform, he becomes a powerful military leader, but his rise to power forces him to confront the bloody consequences of war and the burden of regicide.

Top cast: Richard Harris, Alec Guinness, Robert Morley, Dorothy Tutin, Frank Finlay, Timothy Dalton, Patrick Wymark, Patrick Magee.


This Sporting Life (1963)

This Sporting Life poster

Bftv 9.0 / IMDb 7.5

A brutal coal miner finds escape from his harsh life through rugby league, his raw talent and aggression propelling him to stardom. However, his violent tendencies and inability to express his emotions leave him unfulfilled, as his love for a troubled widow remains tragically one-sided.

Top cast: Richard Harris, Rachel Roberts, Alan Badel, William Hartnell, Colin Blakely, Vanda Godsell, Anne Cunningham, Jack Watson, Arthur Lowe, George Sewell, Leonard Rossiter.


The Snow Goose (1971)

The Snow Goose poster

Bftv 9.0 / IMDb 8.0

A solitary lighthouse keeper on war-torn coast forms an unlikely bond with a young girl when they care for a wounded snow goose. As they nurse the bird back to health, their friendship blossoms, but the harsh realities of war threaten their fragile sanctuary.

Top cast: Richard Harris, Jenny Agutter, Graham Crowden, Freda Bamford, Noel Johnson, William Marlowe.


King of the Wind (1990)

King of the Wind poster

Bftv 8.5 / IMDb 6.4

A mute young stable boy forms an extraordinary connection with a spirited Arabian colt, destined for greatness. Their bond endures treacherous journeys and political intrigue as they fight to preserve the magnificent horse and ensure his legacy as the founder of a legendary racing breed.

Top cast: Richard Harris, Glenda Jackson, Frank Finlay, Jenny Agutter, Nigel Hawthorne, Navin Chowdhry, Anthony Quayle, Peter Vaughan, Ian Richardson, Neil Dickson, Barry Foster, Jill Gascoine, Ralph Bates, Joan Hickson, Melvyn Hayes.


Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets poster

Bftv 8.5 / IMDb 7.4

Returning to Hogwarts for his second year,Harry Potter finds cryptic messages warning of a dangerous secret chamber. As students are mysteriously petrified, he and his friends delve into the school’s dark history to confront a lurking monster and unravel the truth about a legendary heir.

Top cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Richard Harris, Richard Griffiths, Fiona Shaw, Harry Melling, Toby Jones, Julie Walters, Mark Williams, Jason Isaacs, Tom Felton.


The Wild Geese (1978)

The Wild Geese poster

Bftv 8.5 / IMDb 6.8

A retired soldier is offered a hefty sum to assemble a team of mercenaries for a daring rescue mission in Africa. Despite facing betrayal and dwindling resources, the group fights its way through a hostile landscape, forced to confront the morality of their actions and the high cost of loyalty.

Top cast: Richard Burton, Roger Moore, Richard Harris, Hardy Krüger, Stewart Granger, Winston Ntshona, John Kani, Jack Watson, Frank Finlay, Barry Foster, Ronald Fraser.


Richard Harris full filmography @ Wikipedia
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