Tuesday, April 17, 2018

R.I.P..: Harry Anderson of Night Court Fame

Harry Anderson, who starred as the kindhearted, zany Judge Harry Stone on the long-running NBC comedy “Night Court,” was found dead early Monday at his home in Asheville, N.C.

He was 65, according to The NYTimes.

The Asheville Police Department, which confirmed the death, did not release a cause but said no foul play was suspected.

Anderson, who spent nine seasons presiding over a fictional Manhattan courtroom that played host to a steady stream of oddballs, was nominated for three consecutive Emmys, from 1985 to 1987.

“Night Court,” which ran from 1984 to 1992, more than held its own against juggernauts like “Cheers,” “The Cosby Show” and “The Golden Girls” during a storied period for television sitcoms.

“Night Court” was nominated for 31 Emmys and won seven. John Larroquette, Markie Post, Richard Moll, Charles Robinson and Marsha Warfield starred alongside Mr. Anderson.

Judge Harry Stone shared more than a first name with the actor who played him: Both the character and the man donned colorful ties, were magicians at heart and were superfans of the jazz great Mel Tormé, known as the Velvet Fog, who made several guest appearances on “Night Court.” Anderson was a eulogist at Mr. Tormé’s funeral in 1999.

While he earned critical acclaim and amassed a devoted fan base on “Night Court,” Mr. Anderson never fancied himself an actor. “I’m a magician, or a performer, by nature, and that’s always what I’ve been,” Mr. Anderson told WGN-TV in Chicago in 2014.

“I was never really an actor,” he said. “I was a magician who fell into a part on ‘Cheers.’”

His role as the swindler Harry (the Hat) Gittes on “Cheers” — he appeared in six episodes, four in the first two seasons — led to his break on “Night Court” after he impressed the legendary television executive Brandon Tartikoff.

Before “Night Court,” Anderson appeared on “Saturday Night Live” several times. He hosted the show at the height of his fame, in 1985.

After “Night Court,” he played the newspaper columnist Dave Barry on the comedy “Dave’s World,” which ran on CBS from 1993 to 1997. In 2008, he appeared in an episode of “30 Rock” titled “The One With the Cast of ‘Night Court.’"

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