Son of a Famous Actor, Who Was an Olympic Skier, TV Star and Singer of an Academy Award-Winning Hit Song, Dies at 79

Oct 22, 2013  •  Post A Comment

He was a man of many talents. He was an Olympic skier, the star of a TV show well-remembered by baby boomers, and he sang an Academy Award-winning hit song.

Noel Harrison, the son of actor Rex Harrison, has died at age 79. According to the Los Angeles Times: "Harrison suffered a heart attack at his home in Ashburton, Devon in England after performing at the village of Black Dog in Devon." He died soon after having the heart attack on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013, the newspaper says.

He starred in the NBC spy drama "The Girl from U.N.C.L.E." opposite Stephanie Powers. The show was a spinoff of the hit "The Man from U.N.C.L.E." and ran for only the 1966-67 season.

The Academy Award-winning hit Harrison sang was "The Windmills of Your Mind," which was the theme song from the 1968 movie "The Thomas Crown Affair" starring Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway.

Says the Times obituary: "Harrison was a member of the British ski team and competed in the 1952 and 1956 Winter Olympics. But he soon left the slopes and began playing guitar and singing at nightclubs and bars around Europe before coming to America in 1965."

He had a minor hit on the U.S. charts that same year with "A Young Girl (of Sixteen)," notable among the pop songs of the day for its grim overtones. Harrison followed up two years later with another minor hit, a cover of Leonard Cohen’s "Suzanne."

According to the paper, on Sunday Powers posted this note on Twitter: "My darling friend Noel Harrison passed last night. Let us all light a candle to speed him on his way — he deserves to fly with the angels."

Here’s a video of Harrison singing his Academy Award-winning version of the ballad "The Windmills of Your Mind." The music is by French composer Michel Legrand. The English lyrics are by Marilyn and Alan Bergman. According to Wikipedia, "The opening two melodic sentences were borrowed from Mozart’s second movement from his Sinfonia Concertante for Violin, Viola and Orchestra, K.364."

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