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Night Court actor Harry Anderson died Monday morning in Asheville, North Carolina, the Asheville Police Department confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter. He was 65.
“This morning at 6:41 a.m. the Asheville Police Department responded to the home of actor Harry Anderson where he was found deceased,” Asheville PD’s Public Affairs officer Christina Hallingse told THR. “No foul play is suspected.”
The 1980s sitcom ran for nine seasons on NBC and earned seven Emmy Awards and 31 nominations, including three noms for Anderson, who starred as Judge Harry T. Stone alongside John Larroquette, who played assistant district attorney Dan Fielding.
Night Court anchored NBC’s early “Must See TV” Thursday lineup, which also included The Cosby Show, Family Ties and Cheers.
In addition to his role on the NBC sitcom, Anderson also appeared on Cheers, starred as humorist Dave Barry on the 1990s show Dave’s World and played Richie Tozier in the 1990 miniseries adaptation of Stephen King’s It.
Judd Apatow paid tribute on Monday afternoon, tweeting: “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.”
Born on Oct. 14, 1952, in Newport, Rhode Island, Anderson was drawn to the art of magic. After moving to Los Angeles, where he graduated from Hollywood High School, Anderson practiced his skills often. He had joined the Dante Magic Club in his teens and reportedly made money as a street magician in San Francisco when he was 17.
Anderson has said he never sought to be an actor.
“I did a Saturday Night Live, just a guest spot,” Anderson told the Bradenton Herald in 2015. “Les Charles called me and said I had beaten him out of $20 in a shell game in San Francisco.”
Charles, at the time, was producing Cheers and asked Anderson to guest-star on the show as con man Harry “The Hat” Gittes.
He then went on to land his most well-known role, playing Judge Stone on Night Court, which aired on NBC from 1984-92. He played the boyish judge as a wise-cracking prankster who also was an amateur magician, like Anderson himself.
Anderson told the Herald that he landed the Night Court gig after producers saw him on Cheers.
“I guess they figured I was an actor,” he said. “I never auditioned for anything. I had the scripts next to me behind the bench. They named the character Harry so I’d remember to react when someone said my name. By the time they figured out that I couldn’t act scared on the subway at 4 a.m., I already had a five-year contract.”
Anderson went on to reunite with Larroquette in a guest-starring role on The John Larroquette Show in 1996. In 2008, Anderson played himself on 30 Rock as part of a Night Court reunion of sorts alongside former co-stars Markie Post and Charles Robinson.
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Sir Anthony Hopkins