Harry Anderson, 'Night Court' Star, Dead at 65
Celebrated comic actor Harry Anderson, best known for his role on Night Court, died at his home in Asheville, North Carolina, on Monday, ET can confirm. He was 65.
Asheville Police Department Public Information Officer Christina Hallingse told ET that police were called to Anderson’s home at 6:41 a.m., where the actor was found dead. Police noted that “no foul play is suspected.”
Anderson’s first memorable role came when he played Harry “The Hat” Gittes in several episodes of the first season of Cheers. His performance on the hit sitcom — along with several appearances doing standup on Saturday Night Live — led to his breakthrough role as Judge Harry Stone on the NBC sitcom Night Court.
Set during the night shift of a municipal court in New York City, Anderson’s iconic character was a young, wacky and unorthodox judge who presided over cases tried by several idiosyncratic public defenders — played by Paula Kelly, Ellen Foley and Markie Post — as well as the narcissistic prosecutor, Dan Fielding, played by John Larroquette in what turned out to be his career-making role. Richard Moll played the court’s iconic bailiff, Bull.
The acclaimed show ran for nine seasons, from 1984 to 1992. Anderson earned three Emmy nominations for his performance.
Anderson, Post and Charlie Robinson — who played a court clerk on Night Court — all starred as themselves in a 2008 episode of 30 Rock titled “The One With the Cast of Night Court.” In the very meta episode, Tracy Morgan’s character, Tracy Jordan, hires the actors to reprise their roles from the show to shoot a more satisfying final episode that Night Court‘s famously disappointing series finale.
After Night Court came to an end, Anderson starred in the CBS sitcom Dave’s World, based on the comedic writings of humor columnist Dave Barry. The show ran for four seasons, from 1993 to 1997, before getting cancelled.
Anderson is also remembered for his powerful performance as the grown-up Richie Tozier in the iconic 1990 horror miniseries It.
Anderson also had a life-long passion for magic and began touring the country performing, where he made close friends with some of the biggest stars in the field. He also penned a book, Games You Can’t Lose: A Guide for Suckers, which details coin tricks and scams used by card sharps and magicians.
After his death, several of Anderson’s friends and former co-stars took to Twitter to share their condolences and their memories, including Neil Patrick Harris.
“Stunned by the passing of Harry Anderson, one of my comedy and magic inspirations growing up. We became friendly over the years,” Harris wrote, “He worked at the @MagicCastle_AMA and recently sold me a handful of great magic memorabilia. My sincere condolences to his family. #RIP”
Anderson’s long-time co-star Markie Post tweeted, “I am devastated. I’ll talk about you later, Harry, but for now, I’m devastated.”
TV host and comic Chris Hardwick also mourned the loss, tweeting, ” NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! I loved this guy even though I had never met him. Loved his comedy, his appearances on SNL (when they still had stand-ups), and Night Court is one of my all-time favorite sitcoms. I hope he is in some magical afterlife doing card tricks with Mel Tormé. #RIPHarry”
Filmmaker Judd Apatow shared his memory of Anderson, writing, “I interviewed Harry Anderson when I was 15 years old and he was so kind, and frank and hilarious. The interview is in my book Sick In The Head. He was a one of a kind talent who made millions so happy.”
Dave’s World creator Dave Barry paid tribute, sharing, ” I’m very sorry to learn of the death of Harry Anderson. He was a very talented guy, and, more important, a genuinely nice guy.”
Here are a number of other memories stars have posted to honor Anderson’s life and legacy.
Anderson is survived by his wife, Elizabeth, and his two children.