“Night Court” cast. Harry Anderson, center front. Photo courtesy of NBC.
Death didn’t dent actor Harry Anderson’s flair for a dramatic entrance. I laughed when Anderson showed up in his Judge Harry Stone robes from his best known role on “Night Court.” I asked, him, “Really?” “Well it got your attention didn’t it?” he retorted. I have to admit, it was effective.
Once he had my attention he switched to a more casual look in blue jeans and a plaid print shirt, long sleeves, top few buttons open. Then he added a white ten gallon hat to the ensemble. When I asked about the hat, he said he had a fondness for them and they were a private joke between him and his wife. Publicly Anderson was known for his fedora’s, so maybe the cowboy hats were a more recent passion?
Not surprisingly he was concerned about his wife, Elizabeth Morgan. As Morgan was his second wife I asked him about his first. He said He wasn’t worried about his ex, Leslie Pollack because as he put it, “Leslie always knows what to do. She will take care of everything.” The implication was she would break the news to their grown children and handle any details that needed attention.
Anderson told me it was “the old ticker” that gave out on him. He said the pain only lasted for a few moments and then he was floating above his body in his bedroom, looking down on it. “Now THAT would have been a heck of a magic trick” he quipped. At first he watched Elizabeth sleep from his new vantage point, and then her distress when she woke in due time and couldn’t wake him. He wanted her to know it was an easy death at least for him. He knows it wasn’t easy on her and is sad about that. If he could talk to her right now he would say, “We did have a good run, didn’t we babe?” (Morgan and Anderson married in 2000.)
He warned his son Dashiell, no magic tricks that snap, pop or smoke at his funeral as that would upset Elizabeth. “You can pull as many flowers from your sleeves and rabbits out of hats as you want, just nothing that goes boom,” he said. “No body piercings either,” he added as an afterthought. (One of his best known Saturday Night Live skits involved an apparent piercing of his arm.) Like nearly every single funeral I have ever attended, Anderson will be at his own services, Tom Sawyer style “Without the punchline” he noted as the news of his death was all too real.
Anderson was well-known as a major fan of Mel Torme. I was given a glimpse of their reunion on the other side. A hearty handshake quickly became a big hug with lots of laughter, tears and back pounding to go around.
I got the distinct impression Harry Anderson, actor, magician and by many accounts an all around nice guy will enjoy his afterlife as much as he did his time on Earth. He walked away me whistling a tune I didn’t recognize, but as far as I could tell in a good mood, come what may.
One of my fond childhood memories was watching “Night Court” with my grandmother. It was one of the few shows both of us could enjoy. Thanks for the memories, Harry. If you run into Nonni, say hi for me. I know she will want to meet you.
Lynne Sutherland Olson
(c) 2018. Lynne Sutherland Olson. All rights reserved.