Night Court star Harry Anderson died at home yesterday in Asheville, North Carolina, at the age of 65, police confirmed.
Anderson was an actor, magician and comedian, but it was his role as Judge Stone on the NBC show that made him a huge name in showbusiness.
Anderson played the prankster judge with a wonderful air of lighthearted mischief and also performed as an amateur magician. It was art imitating life. Reinhold Weege was the showrunner and the series aired for nine seasons, from January 4, 1984 to May 31, 1992.
How did Harry Anderson die?
Police said Anderson was found dead after officers responded to a call at his home. No cause of death was given, but police said no foul play was suspected.
Marsha Warfield’s video tribute
Marsha Warfield played bailiff Roz Russell and was the perfect deadpan foil to Anderson’s character Stone’s zany antics.
On Monday she took to Facebook for a touching live remembrance of her dear friend and co-star.
In her poignant video, Warfield talks about Anderson’s generosity and welcoming spirit offering to help her in any way he could.
Posted by Marsha Warfield on Monday, April 16, 2018
Warfield was a stand-up comedian and had a fear that her light acting experience would become a problem.
In a past People interview, she said: “When I first went on the show I was a bundle of nerves, and I’m still a bundle of nerves. I’m scared they’re going to find out I don’t know what I’m doing and they’re going to ask for all the money back.”
In the same interview, Anderson said: “I’m not an actor either. I’m a street performer. Her secret is safe with me. Admittedly it was tough for her coming in with a bunch of wiseacres, but Marsha’s dealt with all that. She’s got a real future — when I stop holding her back.”
Warfield was not the first bailiff on the show. On the first two seasons, it was Selma Diamond who played Bailiff Selma Hacker. In 1985, at the age of 64, Diamond died and Florence Halop replaced her and played Bailiff Florence Kleiner for 22 episodes, but she passed away in 1986 at age 63. Both women tragically died from lung cancer.
Warfield was cast as Roz Russell, the next bailiff to appear on the series.
“There’s no way to say this without sounding callous, but if the two women before me had been 33-year-old black women, I would have been really nervous about taking the part,” Warfield told People.
Aw man, I’m so sorry to hear this.
My condolences to his family, friends, fans and everyone who loved him.
Rest in peace, Harry the Hat, you were my friend. https://t.co/fv2yzW4sku
— Marsha Warfield (@MarshaWarfield) April 16, 2018
A staple of 1980s and 1990s hit television, Anderson delighted audiences with his lighthearted and effervescent delivery. He starred in Cheers and as humorist Dave Barry on Dave’s World, and landed a role in the 1990 miniseries adaptation of Stephen King’s It.
But it was Night Court that earned seven Emmy Awards and 31 nominations, including three nominations for Anderson.
Night Court co-star Markie Post used Twitter to share her grief over the news:
I am devastated. I’ll talk about you later, Harry, but for now, I’m devastated.
— Markie Post (@markie_post) April 16, 2018
Judd Apatow also tipped his hat to the affable Anderson:
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. https://t.co/0ksw4WKvxB
— Judd Apatow (@JuddApatow) April 16, 2018
Harry and his wife Elizabeth Morgan lived in New Orleans from 2000 up until Hurricane Katrina hit the city. In 2005 he opened a nightclub there, Oswald’s Speakeasy, which boasted magic shows and sold curiosities.
The depressing fallout and financial ramifications of that Category 5 storm, combined with a physical assault he discussed in a 2006 New York Times article, motivated him to leave and head to North Carolina.