|Birth name||Donald Hugh Harron|
September 19, 1924 |
|Years active||1952 - present|
|Genres||satire, character comedy|
|Spouse||Claudette Gareau (m. 2012)|
|Children||Martha, Mary, Kelley|
|Notable works and roles||Charlie Farquharson, Anne of Green Gables – The Musical, Morningside|
Harron's parents owned and operated Harron’s Cleaners and Dyers in Toronto. Beginning at the age of 10, he earned extra money for the family during the Great Depression, doing “chalk talks” telling humorous stories while drawing caricatures in coloured chalk at company or club banquets, making $10 or $15 a talk. As a result of his performances, he was invited to audition for, and won, a part in the radio series Lonesome Trail. He graduated from Vaughan Road Collegiate Institute in 1942 and briefly attended the University of Toronto before enlisting in the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1943. After World War Two, he completed his studies of sociology and philosophy earning a Bachelor of Arts degree. While at school he performed in amateur and professional productions, won the Victoria College drama award, and composed the music and lyrics for a student musical. He won the gold medal in philosophy and the regent’s silver medal and was offered a position teaching literature at the university which he turned down in order to focus on performing.
After university, Harron appeared in a number of plays and revues in Toronto, including the annual Spring Thaw revue. He spent two years in London, England, travelling there variously performing West End production of A Streetcar Named Desire and also working for the BBC as a comedy writer, acing on a radio series, playing the part of a clown in the 1948 movie The Red Shoes and writing scripts for Gracie Fields.
Returning to North America in the 1950s, Harron performed at the new Stratford Shakespeare Festival and on Broadway and was one of the writers on the first English-language dramatic series broadcast in Canada, Sunshine Sketches, which aired in 1952-53 on CBC Television. Harron also co-wrote the script for the 1956 television musical Anne of Green Gables. Harron later adapted the production for the stage in 1965 as Anne of Green Gables - The Musical. According to Harron in an interview with the Calgary Herald published in March 2008, the stage show has provided work for more than 10,000 actors since its inception.
In 1965, he appeared in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. as an Australian U.N.C.L.E. agent named Kittridge in an episode called "The Four-Steps Affair". He made one appearance on the CBC Television show Adventures in Rainbow Country in 1969 in the episode "The Frank Williams File." He has also been a host and interviewer on Canadian television and radio, hosting CBC Radio's Morningside from 1977 to 1982, and subsequently hosting an afternoon talk show, The Don Harron Show on CTV from 1983 to 1985. He had a featured role in the American film The Hospital, written by Paddy Chayevsky. Harron also appeared on The Red Green Show.
In 2000, Harron's contribution to the Canadian entertainment industry was recognized with his being named a member of the Order of Ontario. He was invested as member of the Order of Canada in 1980. Harron was also appointed a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. In recent years, he has also been a high-profile advocate for the interests of older people. He also continues to write books, most recently (2008) publishing a retrospective work on the history of the Anne of Green Gables musical to tie in with the 100th anniversary of the original novel.
Harron is known for the character Charlie Farquharson //, FAR-KWAR-SON, a personality he first portrayed in 1952 on the CBC series The Big Revue and used as part of the cast of the U.S. country music television show, Hee Haw. Harron reprised the character on The Red Green Show episode "You've Got Oil" (2003).
Dressed in an overly well-worn sweater and frayed cap, and sporting a grizzled 'two-day beard,' Farquharson is a decidedly rural Ontario farmer from near Parry Sound. He and his wife, Valeda, have a son, Orville. He would deliver his opinion about matters local and worldwide, using many malapropisms in the process that often resulted in both double meanings and increased satire about the events. He was also known for his loud hearty laugh, "Hee! Hee! Hee!". In addition to his television appearances as Charlie, Harron published several books in the character, reproducing the malapropisms in print and including strange photos and woodcuts as illustrations.
Examples of Farquharson's comments:
- "Nowadaze Parry Sound looks like most uther towns on this continence, thanks to them branched plants of frenchfrises that has sprung up everywhere--Mickdonald's, Burglar King, Kernel Kadaffy Frayed Chicken. Noware will ya see a sine "Home Cookin'", cuz all our lo-cal burghers is out eaten them malty-nashnul burgurs. This makes everplace into a no place, and it's eezy to fergit ware you is if yer jist passin through at snacktime." [from Cum Buy The Farm, 1987, pg. 11]
- "Every guvmint estimit incloods an extry estimit of how much more it's gonna cost than yer ferst estimit. That's how come they always leeve this big deficit on the floor of yer House. And a deficit is what you've got wen you haven't got as much as if you jist had nothin'. If we tried any of this, we'd end up in jail. But the guvmint gits rid of its detts by Nashnullizing them. That's like the alkyholick who solved his problem by poring the booze in all of his bottles into one big container. Himself." [from Charlie Farquharson's K-O-R-N Filled Allmynack, 1976, pg. 79]
On May 15, 2011, Don performed the Charlie Farquharson character during the 85th anniversary of his Toronto high school, Vaughan Road Collegiate Institute.
He married his third wife, Canadian singer Catherine McKinnon in 1969. Harron's daughter Mary Harron from an earlier marriage to Gloria Fisher, is a noted independent film director whose credits include I Shot Andy Warhol and American Psycho. Harron's and McKinnon divorced in 2003, and he moved in with and later married his fourth wife, Claudette Gareau, who had played the separatist weather girl in Shh! It’s the News with Harron, in 1973.
The following works were written as "Charlie Farquharson," with titles spelled in the character's idiolect:
- Charlie Farquharson's Histry of Canada (McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 1972) ISBN 0-07-092530-5
- Charlie Farquharson's Jogfree of Canda (Gage, 1974)
- Charlie Farquharson's K-O-R-N Filled Allmynack (Gage, 1976)
- Olde Charlie Farquharson's Testament: From Jennysez to Jobe and After Words (MacMillan of Canada, 1978) ISBN 0-7715-9900-5
- Yer Last Decadent: 1972-1982 (MacMillan of Canada, 1982)
- Cum Buy The Farm (MacMillan of Canada 1987)
- Charlie Farquharson's Unyverse (MacMillan of Canada, 1990)
- Charlie Farquharson's History of Canada: ReeVised and More Expansive (MacMillan of Canada, 1992)
- Charlie's A Broad: Travails In Fern Parts (MacMillan of Canada, 1994)
- My Double Life (Dundurn 2012)
- Kaye, Marcia (2004). "The life, loves and regrets of Don Harron". 50Plus. Retrieved 2008-07-14.
- John Corcelli, Sunshine Sketches, Canadian Communications Foundation, February 2005
- "Don Harron biography". Canadian Country Music Association. Retrieved 1 November 2010.
- Canadian Encyclopedia bio of Mary Harron
- Don Harron at the Internet Movie Database
- Order of Canada Citation