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Who is Harry...
It’s difficult for me to write about myself without feeling supercilious; nevertheless, for what its worth, this is a thumbnail account of how I went from being an actor, then a writer, and why I’m now a vender selling my wares at the Mac Fest, which is held every Saturday through May in the streets of down-town Mesa. Be that as it may, I believe the best way to begin telling you about myself is to explain what happened to me the first day I reported for duty as a soldier in the U.S. Army during World War ll:
“Are you being a wise guy?” the sergeant said testily. “No sir,” I answered timidly, “that’s my real name and it’s not the first time I’ve been questioned about it. I’m Harrisios Harrisiathis.” When it was obvious the sergeant didn’t believe me, I added quickly, “My parents are from Greece they immigrated to the U.S and settled in Nashua, New Hampshire where I was born. Incidentally, sergeant, a Greek name, at least to the Greeks, is not only beautiful but interesting as well for it’s not just used as an appellation to distinguish one person from another but it also designates something special about the person. For example, my first name, Harrisios, in Greek means Happy and my surname, Harrisiathis, means Freedom. My father’s first name is Phillipos, translates as Friend of Horse. And my mother’s first name, Sophia, means Wisdom. So you can say that I was raised by a Horse Fancier and a remarkably wise woman who, together, taught me to always live up to my name, Happy Freedom. Parenthetically, the sergeant’s reaction was one for the books.
In any event, when I returned to the United States after fighting the Nazis in Africa, Sicily, and Italy, and had received an Honorable Discharge from the army, I took advantage of the G.I. Bill, which enabled me to get a good education at the Government’s expense: I attended several dramatic schools including a special course in acting and television production at Columbia University in New York City, and then I went looking for employment as an actor in that sphere of work. The first thing I came to terms with as an actor was that I no longer was being addressed by my Greek name but by one that my agent felt would be more helpful in getting me work, so my beautiful Greek name was cut practically in half and I became known in show business as Harry Harris.
As Harry Harris I managed to learn my profession well as an actor by being in more than two hundred stage productions throughout the country, and although most of them were touring companies and summer stocks, they helped me to gain the stature as an actor that I needed. In any event, I then ventured into the television arena and got my own show called, “Here’s Harris” on an ABC affiliate station in Pennsylvania. It was a show that featured my ‘personality’ and not my acting ability, so after several years with the burning desire to act still in my veins, I left the show and went to Hollywood to get into films.
As luck would have it, -- and luck is paramount in show business if one is to be successful – two members from the Swedish Film Industry were in Hollywood looking for an American actor to play the villain in a Swedish cowboy film. After being auditioned and getting the part, I was flown to Sweden where the motion picture, ‘Wild West Story’, starring Carl Gustav Lindstedt was made into a movie. Although the film wasn’t a huge success, -- acting as rough and tumble cowboys is not what Swedish actors do best – it gave my acting career a tremendous boost; it enabled me, for the next twenty-five years, to get work as an actor in several other countries in Europe, during which time I received a Best Foreign Actor’s Award in Italy. At sixty-five years of age I retired; I left my actor’s world in Europe and returned to the United States…only to realize that I was at odds with myself; that retirement was not for me…so I decided to become a writer, and in the twenty years that followed I wrote twenty crime novels, four half-hour television shows, a movie, three children’s books, and thirty-five short stories.
Of the many books I’ve written my favorite is Bosco. It’s a delightful and humorous children’s story about a charming robot that was constructed inside the moon. I thought so highly of Bosco that I wanted youngsters to get to know him as well as I do. That’s the reason I’m now a vender selling “Bosco’s intriguing story at the Mac Fest held in the streets of Mesa every Saturday from now through May.