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Who is Harry Harris?
It’s a bit difficult for me to write about myself without feeling superficial; nevertheless, for what it’s worth, here is a thumbnail account of how I went from being a successful actor to becoming an unsuccessful Standup Comedian, to what makes me tick these days, a writer. Be that as it may, I believe the best way to begin telling you about me, is to explain what happened 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’m being questioned about it; I’m Harrisios Harrisiadis.” When it was obvious that 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 us Greeks, is not only beautiful but interesting as well for it’s not only used as an appellation to distinguish one person from another, but it also designates something special about a person. For example, my first name, Harrisios, in Greek translates to ‘Happy’ in English, and my surname, Harrisiadis, to ‘Freedom’. My father’s first name, Philipos, to ‘Fiend of Horse,’ and my mother’s first name, Sophia, to ‘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 for my service in the Army, I took advantage of the GI Bill, which enabled me to get a good education at the Government’s expense. I attended several Drama Schools, including a special course in Acting and Television Production and Directing 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 was no longer being addressed by my Greek name but by one that my agent felt would be more helpful in getting me work: My beautiful Greek name was cut practically in half and I became known in Show Business as Harry Harris. With that name in tow I managed to learn my work as an actor well by being in more than 200 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 case, 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 TV 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. Yes, you read correctly, a Swedish COWBOY film. Nevertheless, after being auditioned and getting the part I was flown to Sweden where the motion picture, “Wild West Story,” starring Sweden’s beloved actor, Carl Glustav 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, nevertheless, gave my acting career a tremendous boost; it enabled me to get work as an actor throughout Europe. During those years I managed to get a Best Foreign Actor’s Award in Italy and the lead in one of Australia’s most popular TV shows, “Number 96.” Unfortunately, it was at that time that I began to suffer with neuropathy and since I couldn’t walk properly my acting days took their final bow. I returned to the United States thinking I would retire gracefully only to realize that I was at odds with myself; that retirement was not for me. So, using a ‘walker’ I began working as a Standup Comedian. Several years later, feeling I had enough experience in life to write a book or two, I began my career as an Author and Playwright. And in the twenty-five years that followed I’ve done nothing but write, write, write, and I’ve loved every minutes of it. Since I didn’t want my readers to have trouble remembering my name, I didn’t use my Greek name but wrote under the appellation, Harry Harris. Be that as it may, since the people that have read my novels seem to enjoy them, I’m still at it 24/7. So, now you know something about me and I trust I haven’t been too, how shall I put it, superficial?