Actor. Born in Limerick, Ireland, in school, he was a notable rugby player, but was sidelined by tuberculosis in his teens. During his recovery, he became fascinated with the theater, and decided he wanted to direct and went to London to pursue his choice. After he was rejected by the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, he attended the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. He debuted on stage with "The Quare Fellow" in 1956 and in motion pictures in "Alive and Kicking" in 1959. He became a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company in the early 1960s. After bit roles in "The Guns of Navarone" in 1961 and "Mutiny on the Bounty" in 1962, "This Sporting Life" in 1963 became his breakout role, for which he won Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival and an Academy Award nomination. He was then often grouped in with the new wave of British actors that included figures as Peter O'Toole, Michael Caine and Albert Finney, who were regarded as Britain's “angry young men” of the industry. He developed a reputation as a legendary rake and heavy drinker in concert with such contemporaries as O'Toole and Oliver Reed. During that period he appeared in such films as "The Heroes of Telemark" and "Major Dundee" in 1965, "The Bible" and "Hawaii" in 1966. He won the role of 'King Arthur' in the 1967 film version the Broadway musical, "Camelot" despite his limited singing voice. He followed up by recording the album, "A Tramp Shining" which included the single "MacArthur Park" that reached number 2 on the United States music charts in the summer of 1968. He appeared in numerous successful films throughout the 1970s including "The Molly McGuires," "A Man Called Horse," and "Cromwell" in 1970; "Juggernaut" in 1974; "Robin and Marian" and "The Cassandra Crossing" in 1976; and "The Wild Geese" in 1978. In 1979 he was diagnosed with hyperglycemia which contributed to his decision to stop drinking. His career waned in the 1980s, and many of his films were considered less memorable, including the universally panned "Tarzan, The Ape Man" in 1981. He was knighted by the Danish crown in 1985, and was also a Knight of Malta. In the 1990s, his renaissance saw films such as "The Field" in 1990 for which he received an Academy Award nomination; "Patriot Games" and "Unforgiven" in 1992; "Cry, The Beloved Country" and "The Great Kandinsky" in 1995; and "Smilla's Sense of Snow" in 1997. He also appeared in the highly successful motion picture "Gladiator" in 2000. Uninterested in a multiple picture commitment he initially turned down the role of 'Albus Dumbledore' in the first “Harry Potter” movie, but reconsidered and appeared in the first two pictures in the "Harry Potter" franchise in 2001 and 2002. His final screen role was for television as ‘Lucius Sulla’ in "Julius Caesar" in 2002 before succumbing to Hodgkin's Disease that autumn. He is the father of director Damian Harris and actors Jared and Jamie Harris.
Bio by: Iola