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Canadian Entertainment Icon Don Harron Dead at 90


Harron created comedic alter ego Charlie Farquharson, brought Anne of Green Gables to the stage

courtesy CBC News Posted: Jan 17, 2015 4:32 PM ET

Don Harron, who created the Canadian comedic icon Charlie Farquharson during a decades-long career in show business, has died at his Toronto home. He was 90.

His eldest daughter Martha told the Canadian Press her father died Saturday morning surrounded by family at his Toronto home after choosing not to seek treatment for cancer.

“He was still sharp. He was still capable of being funny even though his voice was barely above a whisper,” she said in a telephone interview from Toronto. “It’s horribly sad, but it’s beautiful too.”

Harron entertained generations of Canadians with his comic alter ego Farquharson and helped bring the Canadian classic novel Anne of Green Gables from the page to the stage.

  • Don Harron, who created the Canadian comedic icon Charlie Farquharson during a decades-long career in show business, has died in Toronto at 90. Here, Harron poses as Farquharson.

During CBC’s 1952 television revue The Spring Thaw , the relatively unknown Harron took to the stage for a four-minute set. Few people watching knew they were about to witness a marquee moment in Canadian show business.

That evening he introduced Canada to Farquharson – the country bumpkin from rural Ontario known for his incessant puns and decrepit grey cardigan sweater – a character that would solidify Harron’s place among the nation’s great entertainers.

Starred on Hee Haw

Harron achieved international success in the late 1960s when he began an 18-season stint performing as Farquharson on the hit U.S. variety show Hee Haw.

His list of accomplishments extends far beyond Charlie.

Harron was a seasoned theatre performer, acting in a half-dozen Broadway plays and three shows in London’s West End. He also featured during the inaugural 1953 season of the Stratford Festival. It was in Stratford that he struck up a friendship with Oscar and Tony winner Christopher Plummer.

‘Anything he ever put his hand to he excelled at.’–  Zoe Cormier, granddaughter of Don Harron

Harron also enjoyed considerable success behind the scenes as a writer and director.

He wrote the lyrics for five musicals, including the 1965 on-stage version of Anne of Green Gables, which was adapted from a television version he co-wrote nine years earlier. The show is performed every year during the Charlottetown Festival in P.E.I., a province where Harron has spent considerable time.

In between stints on the stage, Harron was the host of CBC Radio’s flagship program Morningside from 1977 to 1982, for which he won an ACTRA award for best radio host. He later helmed CTV’s The Don Harron Show from 1983 to 1985.

He also authored 17 books – most of them in character as Farquharson.  Perhaps his most personally revealing work came in 2012, when Harron published the 440-page memoir My Double Life: Sexty Years of Farquharson Around With Don Harn.

The release of the memoir roughly coincided with his retirement from the stage.

In a February 2012 interview with CBC’s Island Morning, Harron said he decided to walk away from performing after his short-term memory began to fade and he could no longer remember his set material in front of a live audience.



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