Harry Anderson was essentially playing himself on Night Court
Image credit: The Everett Collection
Harry Anderson played the role of Judge Harry T. Stone on Night Court's successful nine-season run from 1984 to 1992. For as well as he played Judge Harry T. Stone, and for as long as he did, you would think that being an actor was Anderson's lifelong dream.
However, Anderson made it clear: He had no intention of becoming an actor, and in 1984 he had no desire to find another acting role after Night Court.
Anderson's first love was magic. He was a professional magician who got his start on TV in guest roles on Saturday Night Live and Cheers.
In a 1984 interview with The Columbia Record, Anderson said that because of his lack of acting experience, the show's creators delayed the first season. Night Court was originally supposed to air in 1983, a year prior to its first season.
Anderson said when he got the part in the series, he instigated some changes to the character and the script. According to the interview, Anderson asked to stay away from anything too heavy and to focus on the comedy.
"What I have seen in television has been a trend towards action-adventure," he said. "Personally, I like comedy, and I don't think there's too much difference in jokes five years ago and now. I wanted to do shows people care about. What we have on this show is a rich cast."
With little acting experience, Anderson played the role of Judge Harry T. Stone so well that many believed he'd been acting for years.
According to the interview, Anderson and his character had a few things in common. The two not only shared a first name, but they also had the same passion for magic and the same love for Mel Torme.
"A lot of people, including me, became magicians because they have the knack and the spirit," he said. "I never wanted to be a TV star, but I always wanted my work to be enjoyed by many people as possible."
Anderson's acting journey and his role on Night Court came from one thing; a little magic.
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