Sam Harris (VI)

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Sam Harris (VI)

Born

6/4/1961, Cushing, Oklahoma, USA

Birth Name

Samuel Kent Harris

Gender

Male
6.0
out of 10
User Rating
13 votes

Biography

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Sam Harris, born in Oklahoma, performed in his first play when he was five and was always entertaining family and friends throughout his childhood. Sam left home at age 15 to pursue his love of performing and began his journey into entertaining the public. Sam became a household…more

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • Sam Harris' diverse career has run the gamut from singer/songwriter to director, writer and producer, as well as being an actor on Broadway, film and television. He got his start as the grand champion of "Star Search" in its premiere season.moreless

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    Sam's current role on the new CBS comedy, The Class, is the most recent incarnation of a career than has spanned more than two decades in the public eye and run the gamut from singer/songwriter to stage, film, television actor to writer, producer, director. Born in Oklahoma, Sam performed in his first play when he was five and was known to jump on any makeshift stage, be it a wooden crate or a dining room table, and belt out a tune.



    He left home at the age of 15 to pursue his career, learning the ropes through regional and repertory theatre. He finished high school through correspondence courses and then attended UCLA in Los Angeles, where he co-wrote (with Bruce H. Newberg) and starred in Hurry! Hurry! Hollywood!, the first original musical in which the theatre and music departments collaborated. He also received the Frank Sinatra Pop Singing Award where the legendary Chairman of the Board said to an enthusiastic audience, "This kid's got `it'! Sam, don't get any better till I get out of the business." It was the validation he needed to leave school for the real world.



    For the next two years, Sam played "every dump and dive in LA," for a measly $25 a set. From these shows emerged his first solo stint, Out of Control, which opened with Sam singing "God Bless the Child" in a straight jacket. The show garnered a kind of cult following that Los Angeles Magazine called "Harrisites," and caught the attention of talent scouts from an upcoming new television talent show. In an oversized tailcoat and Converse sneakers, Sam became a household name on Star Search in its premiere season. 25 million viewers tuned in week after week to follow him as he created his own pop, gospel and theatre brand of emotionally charged performances, finally winning the grand prize and the hearts of America.



    His phenomenal "overnight" rise catapulted him into recording industry, where he sold over a million copies of both Sam Harris and Sam-I-Am, which he also produced. Concert tours, including a legendary performance at Carnegie Hall, replaced his Mac-n-Cheese days and the little white kid with the soulful voice was suddenly in every magazine and on every talk show. Worldwide, he headlined at the San Remo Festival, the Montreaux Festival, and played London to standing ovations.



    Simultaneously, he created and wrote the TBS sitcom, Down to Earth with college cohort Bruce H. Newberg, which ran for 4 years. At the request of Elizabeth Taylor, Sam became one of the first celebrities to lead the fight against AIDS. It would mark the beginning of his work as an activists for human rights, for which he has performed in countless benefits. (Sam has personally collected funds in every major theatre in the country for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. He has also worked to raise funds and awareness for a number of children's health organizations and he continues to fight for equal rights and campaign for fair-minded politicians daily.)



    After touring in concert for several years, Sam began itching for the theatre again, and he starred in productions of Cabaret, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and the self-penned shows Different Hats and, most notably, Hard Copy, in which he portrayed six different characters frequenting an all night news stand. The show was a huge success, garnering myriad awards, and Sam's writing and acting skills were now coming to the fore front.



    He continued to record, this time reflecting his love of classics and Broadway songs on the critically acclaimed cds, Standard Time and Different Stages, both produced, arranged and conducted by the legendary Peter Matz. This cd was recorded the old fashioned way - live with the orchestra - and the result was two records which have appeared on numerous "best of" lists and have become classics of the genre.



    Broadway called and Sam moved to New York, where he received a Drama Desk nomination for his role in Tommy Tune's Grease. Immediately following, he toured for 15 months in the Broadway National tour of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, where sales records were broken all over the country. Soon after, Sam next starred in Cy Coleman's The Life, for which he received the Drama-League Award as well as Tony, Outer Critic's Circle and Drama Desk nominations. Soon after, Sam went to work on the development of The Jazz Singer, playing the legendary Al Jolson, known as "the greatest entertainer in the world." While the Broadway production was thwarted, Sam was clearly in a new league when the New York Times remarked, "Who else could play this role? Sam Harris is the only performer today whose charisma and raw magnetism is absolutely Jolson-esque."



    Sam returned to his pop roots on the cd, Revival, and performed the show of the same name at New York's famed The Bottom Line, further displaying his writing, comic and now, political prowess in conjunction with an eclectic mix of music, which has now become his trademark. Though humor had always been a part of a Sam Harris show, comedy/storytelling and social commentary were fast becoming as important an aspect as his singing.



    The Best of the Motown Sessions was also released and followed by his first holiday recording, On This Night, as well as a double cd of love songs, entitled Always, and his second holiday recording, The Best of Christmas - Sam Harris Live!



    While he continued to tour nationally, Sam also co-produced the television special Love Letter to New York and supervised and arranged several songs and supervised segments of Michael Jackson's 30 Year Anniversary Special. Sam then moved back to Los Angeles and had barely unpacked when he returned to New York in Mel Brook's smash hit The Producers on Broadway.



    Throughout his career, Sam has made appearances on numerous television shows and specials and in countless live productions, working with the legends who influenced him such as Stevie Wonder, Elizabeth Taylor, Elton John, Al Green and, most importantly, a long time collaboration and friendship with the great Liza Minnelli. He has performed at the White House. He has made guest appearances on every talk show. (In the 80's a very young Sam appeared on shows such as Arsenio Hall, The Joan Rivers Show, Merv Griffin, Geraldo, American Bandstand, Soul Train, etc.) As the "Star Search Poster Boy" image finally began to take a back seat to other aspects of his career, he has appeared on numerous shows such as The Tonight Show, The Today Show, Rosie, The View, Barbara Walters Show, and, in an historic time, performed a stirring "You'll Never Walk Alone" on The Oprah Winfrey Show in the week following September 11th, 2001.



    Sam's found great triumph in the live show which bared the title he can now claim: SAM. Critics shouted unequaled praise, making it the single most lauded show of the season. He has toured major cities with SAM., accompanied by his long time music director, the brilliantly talented Todd Schroeder. Sam also appears with popular symphonies such as The Boston Pops.



    Currently, Sam is enjoying a new page in his chameleonic career as "Perry Pearl" on The Class. He joins a gifted ensemble in the series created by David Crane (Friends) and Jeffrey Klarik (Mad About You) and is under the guidance of the iconic television director, James Burrows. He lives in Los Angeles with his partner of 11 years. -- www.SamHarris.commoreless
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