Richard Harris’ son said he was thrilled that people see his father as a “Renaissance man” when his new archival collection opens at University College Cork (UCC).
The late actor’s legacy donated the broad selection of his letters, photographs, literary works and professional and personal documents – spanning more than 50 years – to help preserve his legacy.
The award-winning actor, who died in 2002 at the age of 72, has starred in a myriad of plays and films throughout his career, including the role of Albus Dumbledore in the first two Harry Potter films, the Roman Emperor Mark Aurelio in the 2000 Gladiator and the Abbot Faria in the 2002 film The Count of Monte Cristo.
His son and actor Jared Harris told the PA news agency: “What I’m excited about is that people will get an idea of what kind of Renaissance man he was and how varied his interests were.
“Because it represents not only what you would expect from him in terms of interest in his professional career as an actor, but also his ambitions as a director.”
Among the collections is his director’s copy of a production of Hamlet, a collection of his poems and letters that he kept to friends.
One of the letters is from Daniel Radcliffe, who played Harry Potter in the fantasy film series, wishing him a good recovery while Harris was in the hospital in his final days.
Another was written to his parents when he was in a production of Arthur Miller’s A View From The Bridge, where he reveals that the playwright came to visit them every day and that Marilyn Monroe had come to rehearsals one evening.
Harris’s son added: “He has collected a lot of personal memorabilia. I didn’t know he was that sentimental and I don’t mean it pejoratively, it’s touching to me that he considered these things precious and things he wanted to hold on to and collect.
The items will be exhibited for the first time in Harris’ hometown of Limerick at the Hunt Museum.
Jared Harris added: “The archive has stood still almost since my father died, which is 20 years now, in a prison and I have spent the last 10 good years trying to figure out what to do with it and the family, obviously we don’t want to leave it. sitting in a cell that slowly wets and degrades.
“And we needed him to go somewhere to take care of it and the University of Cork – the programs and curriculum they have to offer reflect so many of my father’s interests.
“They have a school of cinema, theater, theater, they have fantastic literature programs and it seemed that this was in tune with what were his passions.”
Cronan O Doibhlin, head of collections at the UCC Library, said, “The Richard Harris Archive will be of great benefit to the arts and culture industry in Richard Harris’s home province of Munster, where his legacy as a beloved and respected actor at the international level it continues to be celebrated and loved ”.