CBC Morningside's Don Harron is Dead

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CBC Morningside's Don Harron is Dead

Postby jon » Sat Jan 17, 2015 10:19 pm

Canadian actor and writer Don Harron dead at age 90
By Michelle McQuigge
The Canadian Press
January 17, 2015 9:50 PM

TORONTO - Don Harron, who entertained generations of Canadians with his comic alter ego Charlie Farquharson and helped bring the Canadian classic novel "Anne of Green Gables" from the page to the stage, has died. He was 90.

Harron's eldest daughter Martha said her father died on Saturday morning surrounded by family at his Toronto home after choosing not to seek treatment for cancer.

The wit and humour that landed him roles on CBC radio programs and television variety shows such as "Hee Haw" continued to define her father to the very end, Martha Harron said.

"He was still sharp. He was still capable of being funny even though his voice was barely above a whisper," she said in a telephone interview from Toronto. "It's horribly sad, but it's beautiful too."

Harron was born in Toronto in 1924 and, according to his own accounts in past interviews, got his start in show business at an early age.

Harron said he began his career as a cartoonist drawing caricatures of people at banquets in the 30s before landing an audition for CBC radio.

Harron's granddaughter, freelance journalist Zoe Cormier, said Harron's intellectual passions nearly led him down a very different career path than the one that made him famous.

His passion for philosophy won him scholastic awards at the University of Toronto, she said, adding his confidence in both academic and entertainment arenas foreshadowed the range of roles he would take on during his performing career.

"He's one of the few people that I would describe as a true polymath," Cormier said. "Anything he ever put his hand to he excelled at."

Harron's acting career saw him take on roles on stages from London to Stratford, Ont., but the character for which he's best remembered stemmed from a very different type of experience.

Charlie Farquharson, a fictitious folksy story teller from Parry Sound, Ont. who poked fun at almost anything Canadian, became a cult classic that lasted decades.

Harron said a stint working on an Ontario farm inspired him to create the character in 1952.

"It took me 10 years really to bring it fully out in the open, to come out of the closet, Harron recalled in a 1977 CBC interview.

The Farquharson character debuted on CBC's "The Big Review," but went on to make regular appearances on the U.S. variety show "Hee Haw."

But Harron's most celebrated work was accomplished behind the scenes when he helped create the musical version of "Anne of Green Gables," the Lucy Maud Montgomery classic about a red-haired orphan living on Prince Edward Island.

Harron joined forces with Norman and Elaine Campbell and Mavor Moore to turn the beloved novel into a CBC television production in 1955.

Harron told the Canadian Press that he didn't have to dig deep for inspiration when Norman Campbell approached him about a collaboration.

"I said I'd been reading a book to my kids called 'Anne of Green Gables' and it seems to me that this little girl has such an imagination that the only way you can really realize it would be in song," Harron recalled in a 2014 interview.

Nine years later, the team adapted the television version into one for the stage.

The play has been performed for more than 50 consecutive years at the Charlottetown Festival, a fact Harron sees as a stroke of good fortune.

"To have a theatre that will do it every year, that's luck," he said.

Cormier said her grandfather was drawn to projects about strong Canadian women, adding he also collaborated on a musical about artist Emily Carr entitled "The Wonder of it All."

Cormier said Harron enjoyed capturing a "celebration of the female mind," adding his patriotism was also a driving artistic force.

"Canada is constantly riddled with being perceived as America's little sibling, but we've had some really unique, really beautiful products. He really wanted . . . to bring that alive."

Harron's career also included a five-year stint as host of CBC Radio's "Morningside," the show later helmed by Peter Gzowski.

In recent years Harron lent his talents to a campaign to persuade other seniors to consider using canes and walkers to help keep them steady on their feet. He used his Charlie alter-ego in a postcard campaign showing him using a cane, scooter and walker, urging other seniors to "Get over bein' an old fogey! Get a handle on life."

Harron is survived by his partner Claudette Gareau and his three daughters, some of whom have followed him into show business.

Mary Harron has earned acclaim as the director of such movies as "American Psycho," and Kelley Harron is working to turn the "Anne of Green Gables" musical into a film.
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Re: CBC Morningside's Don Harron is Dead

Postby jon » Sun Jan 18, 2015 10:04 am

Don and the late Peter Gzowski were the only permanent hosts of Morningside/This Country in the Morning, which were essentially the same program, running for 3 hours each morning, 9-noon, from 1971 to 1998. The show began as a second major national attempt at Ratings, As It Happens being the first success.

There seems to be some disagreement on the actual show name, but there was also a Saturday version in the early years, hosted by Danny Finkleman. "This Country on a Saturday Morning" is what I remember, but I could be wrong. It was a combo of "best of" interviews from the weekday shows, Danny's own interviews with guests and a fair bit more music than Peter Gzowski did on the weekday show. To further knit the two shows together, Danny also did segments each week on the weekday show.
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Re: CBC Morningside's Don Harron is Dead

Postby Tom Jeffries » Sun Jan 18, 2015 3:19 pm

Mr. Harron always made me laugh - and he was sensational on "Morningside" - (* so was Mr. Gzowski).

I listened to the show everyday - and enjoyed it immensely.

Thanks for the memories, Mr. Harron.

RIP.
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Re: CBC Morningside's Don Harron is Dead

Postby jon » Sun Mar 22, 2015 10:03 am

I just saw the original Fugitive episode with Don guest starring and was extremely impressed. Despite this huge list of roles:
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0365999/
it was the first time that I knowingly watched Don act other than Charlie Farquharson (IMDB credits 83 appearances on Hee Haw), or host Morningside. Really good role and a great job done portraying the balancing of internal forces -- military duty v.s. compassion -- that were tearing his character apart. No wonder Fugitive Producer Quinn Martin would later use Don three times in The F.B.I. series.
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Re: CBC Morningside's Don Harron is Dead

Postby Jack Bennest » Sun Mar 22, 2015 10:43 am

Boy you have to go to the thread to find out he died in January
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Re: CBC Morningside's Don Harron is Dead

Postby jon » Sun Mar 22, 2015 12:40 pm

Jack Bennest wrote:Boy you have to go to the thread to find out he died in January

I have trouble seeing how this is a problem. Those people who don't know or remember that he died, find out that he did, in January. Those who know he died would know it is an old thread.
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Re: CBC Morningside's Don Harron is Dead

Postby CubbyCam » Sun Mar 22, 2015 1:26 pm

jon wrote:
Jack Bennest wrote:Boy you have to go to the thread to find out he died in January

I have trouble seeing how this is a problem. Those people who don't know or remember that he died, find out that he did, in January. Those who know he died would know it is an old thread.


...and then there are those (many of us?) who actually find out twice. Gotta admit, my first reaction was... "Oh no, another one gone..." Went to the thread and as I did, came to the realization that I now remembered he had died in January. It has its benefits too... like when someone starts a joke by saying "Don't know if I told you this one but..." To which I always reply... "Doesn't matter, I won't remember the punch line anyway... and I'll get double the enjoyment. Gotta laugh at life. ;-) :occasion5:
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Re: CBC Morningside's Don Harron is Dead

Postby Jack Bennest » Mon Mar 23, 2015 3:44 am

Thanks Cubby - Jon is young

Once he gets to your age - he will find out that forgetting is part of life :rockon:
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