Jack H. Harris, Producer, Dies at 98
Film producer Jack H. Harris, 98, died peacefully at his home in Beverly Hills, California, on March 14, 2017, from natural causes after enjoying a long and full life. He was surrounded by his beloved family.
Harris was born in Philadelphia, PA, on Thanksgiving Day, November 28, 1918. He was a first generation American born to immigrant parents, Sara Bessie Liebowitz and Benny Ostravsky Harris. Raised with a strong work ethic, Harris began his career in show business as a vaudeville performer at the tender age of seven and went on to become a prolific film producer and distributor who remained involved in every phase of the entertainment industry for over 90 years.
Upon his graduation from high school, Harris became an usher for a theater circuit in Philadelphia. Within five years’ time, he was managing 16 theaters for the same circuit and had won a national exhibitors’ contest that included a trip to Hollywood and an onset visit to Little Nellie Kelly, a film starring Judy Garland.
In 1942, Harris took a detour from the Hollywood scene, enlisting in the U.S. Army as a private. After 4 1/2 years of distinguished service in the military during World War II, he was asked to Washington D.C., where he served an additional two years as an executive in Army Intelligence.
Upon returning to Philadelphia, Harris spent five years working as a publicity representative and later opened his own distribution office with branches in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Washington D.C.
In 1954, Harris acquired the rights to Jamboree, a feature film from the Boy Scouts of America. To maximize its distribution in the U.S., he and a Boy Scout executive personally oversaw the film’s distribution by traveling together throughout the U.S., logging over 50,000 miles. During the long hours spent traveling, the two men discussed the ingredients necessary for a film’s box office success and, in 1958, these discussions resulted in Harris’s first feature film production, The Blob, a Paramount release starring Steve McQueen. It set box office records throughout the world.
Harris’s first hit was followed by 4-D Man in 1959 and Dinosaurus a year later. More recent productions include Equinox, The Eyes of Laura Mars, a 1987 remake of The Blob, as well as an upcoming remake of The Blob that is currently in production.
On February 4, 2014, Jack H. Harris’ long career was celebrated when he was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6764 Hollywood Boulevard.
Harris is survived by his wife Judith Parker Harris, daughter Lynda Resnick, son Anthony Harris, grandchildren, great grandchildren, son-in-law Stewart Resnick and daughter-in-law Alizon Harris.
His memorial service is scheduled for Monday, March 20th at The Westwood Memorial Park Cemetery, 1218 Glendon Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90024.