Harris on the cover of The Robin Harris Story - We Don't Die, We Multiply
|Birth name||Robin Hughes Harris|
August 30, 1953|
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
March 18, 1990 (aged 36)|
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
(m. 1984; his death 1990)
In 1961, the family moved to Los Angeles, where he attended Manual Arts High School. Harris then attended Ottawa University in Kansas. During this time, he began to hone his craft of comedy. He worked for Hughes Aircraft, a rental car company, and Security Pacific Bank to pay his bills. In 1980, he debuted at Los Angeles' Comedy Store.
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During the mid-1980s, Harris worked as the master of ceremonies at the Comedy Act Theater. His "old school" brand of humor began to gain him a mainstream following. Harris made his acting debut playing a bartender in I'm Gonna Git You Sucka (1988). Harris also had a role in Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing (1989). As "Sweet Dick Willie", Harris served as part of the neighborhood "Greek chorus" that commented on the events of an increasingly tense day. Harris was Pop, the father of Kid in House Party (1990). He followed up later that year with a small role as a jazz club MC in Mo' Better Blues. He also appeared in Eddie Murphy's Harlem Nights (1989).
In Harris' "Bébé's Kids" routines, Harris' girlfriend Jamika would insist that he take her son and her friend Bébé's three children with them on a date, as she continually agreed to babysit them. The children would regularly make a fool out of and/or annoy Harris. "We Bébé's kids", they would proclaim, "we don't die...we multiply."
The Hudlin Brothers had intended to make a feature film based upon the "Bébé's Kids" sketches, but Harris died while the film was in pre-production. Bébé's Kids instead became an animated feature. It was directed by Bruce W. Smith and featured the voices of Faizon Love (as Harris), Vanessa Bell Calloway, Marques Houston, Nell Carter, Jonell Green, Rich Little, and Tone Lōc.
In the early hours of March 18, 1990, Harris died in his sleep of a heart attack in the hotel room of his hometown Chicago's Four Season Hotel after performing for a sold out crowd at the Regal Theater. He was 36 years old. His brother found him dead. Harris was transported back to California and interred in an outdoor crypt in Inglewood Park Cemetery, near Los Angeles.
However, the character's legacy continued in the two sequels to House Party. Kid is still shown to be healing from Pop's death in House Party 2 through archive footage, a photo of Pop comes to life and tells Kid "Keep your mind on them books and off them 'gals!", which was actually taken from a scene in the original House Party. The film's setting, the fictional Harris University, is another tribute to the actor. In House Party 3 when Pop's brother and Kid's uncle, Vester (played by Bernie Mac) looks at a photograph of him, he tells Kid how he misses his father and wishes he was still alive, and that he "owes him $150".
At the time of Harris's March 1990 death, his wife was pregnant with their son, Robin Harris, Jr., who was born six months later, in September 1990.
In 2006, a posthumous DVD, titled We Don't Die, We Multiply: The Robin Harris Story (2006), was released. The film features never-before seen performances by Harris and accolades from such contemporaries as Martin Lawrence, Bernie Mac, Cedric the Entertainer, D.L. Hughley, Robert Townsend, and Joe Torry. The film features a rap performed and dedicated to Harris by his son, Robin, Jr.
|Year||Award||Result||Category||Film or series|
|1991||Independent Spirit Award||Nominated||Best Supporting Male||House Party|
- Christon, Lawrence (1992-07-28). "Comic's Legacy: 'Bebe's Kids'". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-10-03.
- Robin Harris; Tragedy of a Funny Man; At His Funeral in Los Angeles, Tribute to a `Down-Home' Comedian; March 26, 1990; David Mills; The Washington Post via HighBeam.com; accessed February 24, 2016.
- James, Caryn (1992-08-01). "Bebe's Kids (1992)". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-08-21.
- Wilson, John M. (1991-10-11). "In Living Color". ew.com. Retrieved 2008-08-21.
- Norwood, Robyn (1997-10-22). "A New Act to Catch". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2008-08-21.
- Watson, Margeaux (2006-10-26). "We Don't Die, We Multiply: The Robin Harris Story DVD Review". ew.com. Retrieved 2008-08-21.
- Kennedy, John (2006-10-18). "Robin Harris' life and comic legacy depicted in new documentary". blackamericaweb.com. Archived from the original on November 5, 2006. Retrieved 2008-08-21.