Professional magician Harry Anderson made his living as a street performer until he was "discovered" on the talk-show circuit in the late '70s. Looking all the world like a young Willy Loman, Anderson delighted in flim-flamming his "suckers" and then revealing his chicanery. He made his film debut as, appropriately, a sideshow prestidigitator in The Escape Artist (1982) then appeared on a sporadic basis as wise guy thimblerig Harry the Hat on the TV sitcom Cheers. This led to his being cast as freewheeling Judge Harold T. Stone on the weekly Night Court which ran from 1984 to 1992. Despite his insouciant "hustler" persona, Anderson is an immensely appealing performer with a strong following among children, and starred in such Disney TV-movie productions as The Absent-Minded Professor (1988) and Harvey (1995). In 1993, Harry Anderson launched another long-running sitcom, playing real life newspaper humorist Dave Barry (whom he resembles not one whit!) in Dave's World.
Biography by Hal Erickson
- Had a transient childhood, living in various cities such as Chicago, Las Vegas and San Francisco.
- Performed as a street magician as a youth and ran a street-hustling shell game in San Francisco at the age of 16.
- Not all were pleased with his street hustling: His jaw was once broken by an indignant victim of a con.
- Acted in the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in the early 1970s.
- Guest starred on the sitcom Cheers as likable con man Harry "The Hat" Gittes.
- In 1989, coauthored a book about magic, swindles and trickery titled Games You Can't Lose: A Guide for Suckers.
- Opened a nightclub in New Orleans called Oswald's Speakeasy in 2005.