Actor a Canadian institution
Charlie Farquharson his famous alter ego
TORONTO — Don Harron, who entertained generations of Canadians with his comic alter ego Charlie Farquharson and helped bring the Canadian classic novel Anne of Green Gables from the page to the stage, has died. He was 90.
Harron’s eldest daughter, Martha, said her father died on Saturday morning surrounded by family at his Toronto home after choosing not to seek treatment for cancer.
The wit and humour that landed him roles on CBC radio programs and television variety shows such as Hee Haw continued to define her father to the very end, Martha Harron said.
“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 was born in Toronto in 1924 and, according to his own accounts in past interviews, got his start in show business at an early age.
Harron said he began his career as a cartoonist drawing caricatures of people at banquets in the 30s before landing an audition for CBC Radio.
Harron’s granddaughter, freelance journalist Zoe Cormier, said Harron’s intellectual passions nearly led him down a very different career path than the one that made him famous.
His passion for philosophy won him scholastic awards at the University of Toronto, she said, adding his confidence in both academic and entertainment arenas foreshadowed the range of roles he would take on during his performing career.
“He’s one of the few people that I would describe as a true polymath,” Cormier said. “Anything he ever put his hand to he excelled at.”
Harron’s acting career saw him take on roles on stages from London to Stratford, Ont., but the character for which he’s best remembered stemmed from a very different type of experience.
Charlie Farquharson, a fictitious folksy storyteller from Parry Sound, Ont. who poked fun at almost anything Canadian, became a cult classic that lasted decades.
Harron said a stint working on an Ontario farm inspired him to create the character in 1952.
“It took me 10 years really to bring it fully out in the open, to come out of the closet, Harron recalled in a 1977 CBC interview.
Actor Don Harron in 2002. A relative says he excelled at anything he tried.