There’s been no official cause of death announced yet. TMZ reports that Anderson died of natural causes.
Anderson moved to Asheville’s Montford neighborhood after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, a city that he loved. Anderson, known as “Harry the Hat” because of his ever-present fedora, was a fixture in the French Quarter in his early days as a comedic magician. He took over and ran a bar there, as well.
But Anderson found fame playing Judge Harry Stone in the 1980s hit television sitcom Night Court alongside fellow stars John Laroquette and Markie Post.
Following Katrina, Anderson grew increasingly critical of New Orleans and found his way to Asheville. Anderson never performed in town, though he was an ardent supporter of the police officers at the Asheville Police Department and lent his star power to the department’s annual banquets.
According to a 2011 press release from the city of Asheville, Anderson served as MC of the Police Department’s banquet and “kept the evening full of laughs, but also spoke about his respect for the men and women of the police department.”
“You guys are extraordinary individually and extraordinary as a group,” Anderson said, according to the release. “My admiration for what you do mounts on a daily basis.”
Anderson did perform in a couple of stage plays in Upstate South Carolina, but otherwise kept a low profile around town.
The Markie Post comment was in poor taste, regardless if true or not.
When Harry had his magic shop in New Orleans, he showed me how to do David Blaine’s levitation trick and admitted his lust for Markie Post (something we also shared). He later opened a nightclub on Decatur Street called Oswald’s which had a Kennedy assassination theme (typical drinks: the Magic Bullet, the Jack Ruby, the Pink Hat) and where he performed his magic show for those lucky enough to get reservations. Heard he moved to Asheville, but never heard anything about him again.