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TV director Harry Harris dies

Helmer won Emmy for 'Fame' in 1982

Prolific TV director Harry Harris, who won an Emmy for directing TV series “Fame,” died March 19 in Los Angeles of complications of myelodsplasia. He was 86.

Harris, who started working in Hollywood in the late 1930s, was still directing episodes of “7th Heaven” in 2005 while in his eighties.

His Emmy came in 1982 for directing in a drama series for an episode of “Fame.” He was also Emmy nommed for an episode of “The Waltons” and for a daytime Emmy for directing afterschool special “Have You Ever Been Ashamed of Your Parents?”

Harris directed hundreds of TV episodes for shows such as “Rawhide,” “Gunsmoke,” “Bonanza,” “The Virginian,” “Kung Fu,” “Lost in Space,” “Hawaii Five-O,” “Falcon’s Crest” and “Eight is Enough.”

Born in Kansas City, he moved to Los Angeles in 1937 and landed a mailroom job at Columbia Studios. He became an apprentice sound cutter and then an assistant sound effects editor.

Harris enlisted in the Army at the start of WWII and reported to Hal Roach Studios in Culver City, where his supervisor was Ronald Reagan, who hired him as a sound effects editor for training and combat films.

When the war ended, he became an assistant film editor and then an editor at Desilu. His directing debut came when Desi Arnaz gave him a chance to try directing while working editor on the Rory Calhoun series “The Texan.” Four Star’s Ed Adamson then hired Harris to direct “Wanted, Dead or Alive” starring Steve McQueen, and he went on to direct episodes for numerous Western series before turning mostly to TV dramas.

He is survived by his wife, Patty; daughters, Joanne, a hairstylist and Suzanne; and a stepson, Michael Daruty, an NBC Universal exec.

Services will be held Wednesday, March 25 at 2:00 p.m. at Hillside Memorial Park.

Donations may be made to the Motion Picture and Television Fund or the American Red Cross.

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