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Passings: Noel Harrison (1934 - 2013)

Noel Harrison, son of Rex Harrison, actor and singer, died this past weekend from a heart attack at his home in Devon, England.  He had performed a concert the previous evening.  Noel was 79.

Harrison was involved in a number of vocations early in life, skiing for the British national team and becoming the first giant-slalom champion in 1953, as an actor and as a guitar player and singer.

He first came to the public eye as an entertainer on the BBC program Tonight and, in 1954, started performing music as restaurants and clubs around London and Europe.  Eleven years later, he moved to the United States where he began playing at clubs like The Hungry I in San Francisco.

In 1965, Harrison had his first hit with A Young Girl (of Sixteen), written by Charles Aznavour, which reached 51 in the U.S. and 5 in Canada. He followed with his self-titled debut album while, at the same time, starring as Mark Slate on the TV series The Girl From U.N.C.L.E.

His newly found success landed him a contract with Reprise records where he recorded three albums, Collage, Santa Monica Pier and The Great Electric Experiment is Over.  Collage was the biggest of the three in the U.S., going to number 135 on the Billboard Album chart and spawning the single of Leonard Cohen's Suzanne (1967 / #56).  In England, he had his biggest hit two years later with The Windmills of Your Mind from the movie The Thomas Crown Affair (1969 / #8 U.K.).

In 1972, Harrison moved to Canada where he became the host of the CBC's Take Time while also touring the U.S. in such musicals as My Fair Lady and Camelot. He moved back to Los Angeles in the early-80's and finally returned to England to live in the late 1990's, resuming his recording career including the albums Adieu, Jacques (2002) and From the Sublime to the Ridiculous (2010).

Harrison is survived by his wife, five children and four grandchildren.