Sunday, January 18, 2015

Don Harron: 1924-2015

Canadian born actor, writer, emcee, humorist, comedian Don Harron has passed away at the age of 90. His death happened yesterday January 17, 2015. Born in September 1924, Harron became popular in the early 1950s in his native country as Charlie Farquharson, a rustic philosopher-type prone to malaprops, one that had an opinion on anything. After the news broke of his death there have been hundreds of memorial pages that have popped up on-line...most of them originating in Canada...and some of the sites use the same biography but this is typical and nothing to complain about. After someone in the celebrity world passes away, an official memorial press release is issued and then bloggers, reporters, and media sites pick up on the press release and share it on their sites with their audiences. After more than a decade and a half as a Canadian celebrity on radio and television, Don became one of the original members of the television program, Hee Haw, when it debuted on CBS in the summer of 1969. After it's summer run, it returned as a mid-season replacement late in 1969 and it continued production of new episodes through early 1971. It was canceled by CBS in 1971 during the Rural Purge (the nickname given to the network's decision to drop any television programs that had massive appeal with rural America and, or, older audiences).

During the program's hiatus Don continued his association with the show because decisions had been made that the program would remain in production for the syndicated market and so by the fall of 1971 Hee Haw returned as a syndicated program. The irony is the local affiliates across the country, mostly affiliates of CBS, decided to continue airing the program in it's usual time-slot (Saturday evenings at 6pm Central, 7pm Eastern) as if it never had been canceled. If you check out some of my Hee Haw blogs you'll learn about the program's life span and it's production methods. Don wrote his own dialogue for the K-O-R-N segments.

For me, Don will always be Charlie Farquharson (last name pronounced, simply, as 'Fark-uh-son'). Before I decided to lower the price of my monthly cable bill, I used to get RFD-TV as part of one of the channel packages. I hadn't seen Hee Haw for nearly half a year and so I miss seeing the program and awaiting Charlie's newscasts. In the picture off to the right, in character as Charlie, Don makes one of his familiar funny facial expressions after reading a rather bizarre story...made more bizarre by the malaprops used in the story's description. The secret to Charlie's hold on a television viewer, in my opinion, was all in the comic timing. His delivery of the latest shenanigans taking place in Kornfield Kounty, that's the fictional place Hee Haw was set in, for example, or, his delivery of the latest divorce, marriage, or death happening in an assortment of fictional small towns...that delivery was breezy, up-tempo, and peppered with just enough innuendo to cause one to say to themselves "did he really say that??". The K-O-R-N routine was always funny and it's at it's hysterical best when Charlie hastily segues from one story to the other to the other, filling each of them with some sort of malapropism. One of my favorite one-liners from one of his 'broadcasts' is the time he reported on a cheapskate at a local bar. A waitress carrying a tray of glasses walked by and she tripped on something. Charlie looks at the camera and says of the cheapskate: "that's the first time the drinks were on him! Hyuck, hyuck, hyuck!!". That last part is my attempt at spelling out Charlie's big laugh.

The collage below is clickable.

As mentioned, Don Harron continued his appearances on Hee Haw throughout the 1970s and into the 1980s. He left the series at the end of the 1985-1986 television season as part of a sweeping overhaul of the cast. One of the program's co-hosts, Buck Owens, also left the series in early 1986.

I have taken some looks at several reports that originated in Canada and on one site there's video footage of Don in his early years.  You can also search YouTube and other video hosting sites to see footage of Don Harron.

Here are 2 sites that offer reports on Don Harron's death. You'll find out that there happened to be much more to Don Harron's career than his portrayal of Charlie.

Bellingham Herald

Broadway World

Here is a memorial story that appeared on-line several hours ago. You will see Don in his regular clothes, as himself, and of course you'll see him as Charlie...

Don Harron: 1924-2015

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