About Gregory Harrison the Actor

by Sara Clark
Actor Gregory Harrison started his mainstream film career in 1976.

Actor Gregory Harrison started his mainstream film career in 1976.

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American actor Gregory Harrison is probably most famous for his role as Chandler in the 1987 cult film "North Shore," and for his title role in the 1977-78 sci-fi TV series "Logan's Run." His career started in the 1970s, and as of 2011 he was still making multiple appearances on TV and stage. A self-taught singer and guitar player, Harrison has also starred in musical theater productions on Broadway, such as "Chicago." He lives in Oregon and is married to "CHIPS" actress Randi Oakes, with whom he has three girls and a boy.

Early Biography

Born May 31, 1950 on Catalina Island near the resort city of Avalon off Los Angeles, Gregory Harrison was the second of three children. His father captained a famous glass-bottom boat that was a popular tourist attraction round Avalon Bay. In 1957 a film crew came to the resort to film "The Battle of Bloody Beach," and Harrison's father was ferryman for the crew. The 7-year-old Harrison was captivated by the atmosphere and spectacle of the filming. Nine years later, a crew came to Avalon to film "The Glass Bottom Boat," starring Doris Day. Harrison's father was constantly required on set in an advisory capacity, and the young Harrison began his acting aspirations.

Army Years

Harrison graduated during the years of the Vietnam War, and he decided to go into the Army voluntarily for three years rather than be drafted for the normal two. He believed this would give him more choice over his role in the Army, and he trained as a helicopter medic rather than as an infantryman. However, after his enlistment he began to realize that he had strong pacifist beliefs that were incompatible with military life. He began the process of extricating himself, which was complicated by the fact that he could not be officially counted as a conscientious objector, because his motives were not religious. During a long litigation process he was not permitted to mix with the rest of his detachment, and he taught himself to play the guitar and sing during the hours of solitary confinement. He received an honorable discharge in 1971.

Acting Career

After attending several acting schools and playing bit parts in amateur and small professional productions, Harrison's first big break was a 1976 guest role in the hit TV series "MASH." This was followed by roles in other TV dramas before he handed the title role in "Logan's Run." The show ran for only one season, but it led to Harrison being cast as Levi Zendt in 10 episodes of the 1978 mini-series "Centennial." This put him on the map as an actor, as many Hollywood actors such as Lynn Redgrave were also starring. In the 1980s he played Dr. George Alonzo "Gonzo" Gates in 142 episodes of "Trapper John, M.D." Later, Harrison played recurring roles on the TV series "Falcon Crest," "The Family Man," "Sisters," "Dark Skies," "Safe Harbor," Ed," "Judging Amy," "Touched by an Angel," "Strong Medicine," "Joey," "Reunion" and "One Tree Hill." In 1980 Harrison started his own production company, and as of 2011 he continued to produce alongside his acting career.

Hobbies

Growing up in the islands, Harrison was always a keen swimmer. At 9 years old he was introduced to surfing, and he quickly became proficient. He remained a keen surfer in his later years, spending leisure time traveling around the world in search of the perfect wave. He is also a founder member of the Surfrider Foundation, a charitable organization that works to protect coastlines. Harrison also enjoys kayaking and is a keen golfer.

Gregory Harrison Trivia

The actor is 5 feet, 11 inches tall. Until he was 19, he had never seen snow. His production company, the Catalina Theater Group, has won more than 150 local theater awards. Harrison sometimes composes and performs his own songs. His mother, Donna, was born in Hollywood and had aspirations to be a dancer. He performed the Billy Flynn role in the New York production of "Chicago" from 2003 through 2006.

Photo Credits

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