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Updated: February 11, 2022

Jonathan Harris (born Jonathan Charasuchin; November 6, 1914 - November 3, 2002) Was an American stage and film character actor.

Early life The second of three children, Harris was born to a poor family in The Bronx, New York. His parents were Sam and Jennie Charasuchin, Russian Jewish immigrants who eked out a living in Manhattan's garment district. His family resided in a six-tenant apartment complex. To raise money, his mother took in boarders, some of whom were given Jonathan's bed, forcing Jonathan to sleep in the dining room.

From the age of 12, he worked as a pharmacy clerk. While there was little money for luxuries, Jonathan's father took efforts to expand his son's cultural horizons. This included trips to the Yiddish Theatre, where he was encouraged by his father to listen to opera. Young Jonathan was enthralled. He discarded his Bronx accent and began to cultivate more sophisticated English tones.

Although he could seldom afford tickets, Broadway plays were also an interest. Before graduation from James Monroe High School in 1931 (at age 16), he had also become interested in archeology, Latin, romantic poetry and, inevitably, Shakespeare. He didn't fit amongst his peers (especially Estelle Reiner mother of future actor/director, Rob Reiner, who was one of his classmates) with the exception of his girlfriend, Gertrude Bregman, whom he subsequently married.

In 1932, aged 17, he legally changed his named from "Charasuchin" to "Harris", apparently without informing his parents. That same year, Harris's work at the pharmacy led him to attending Fordham University in New York, where he majored in pharmacology. He graduated in 1936, and worked in several drugstores.

Acting was Harris's first love. At 24, he prepared a fake resume and tried out a repertory company at the Millpond Playhouse in Long Island, New York and appeared in several of this troupe's plays, prior to landing a spot in The Red Company. In 1942, Jonathan won the leading role of a R.F.D. officer in the Broadway play The Heart of a City. Adopting a Polish accent, he advised the producers that his parents were originally from Poland. In 1946, he starred in A Flag Is Born, opposite Quentin Reynolds and Marlon Brando.

Harris became a popular character actor for 30 years on television, making his first guest appearance on an episode of The Chevrolet Tele-Theatre in 1949. The part led to other roles in such shows as: The Web, Lights Out, Goodyear Television Playhouse, 2 episodes of Hallmark Hall of Fame, Armstrong Circle Theatre, 3 episodes of Studio One, Telephone Time, Schlitz Playhouse of Stars, Climax!, The Outlaws, The Twilight Zone, Bonanza, The Rogues, The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet, among many others.

Harris returned to television, where he landed a co-starring role opposite Michael Rennie in The Third Man, from 1959-65. He played Bradford Webster, an eccentric, cowardly assistant. Half the episodes were shot in London, England; the rest were filmed in Hollywood. Harris' teenaged son would visit the set at this time, and Harris did whatever he could to bridge the gap between father and son and tried to make up for lost time.

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