Mr Henry Burkhardt Harris, 45, was born on 1 December 1866 in St. Louis, Missouri, the son of William Harris, a theatrical manager (b. 17 October 1845 in Prussia, d. 25 November 1916 in New York City), and Rachel Freefield (b. 21 December 1845 in Germany/Prussia; d. 15 February 1903 in New York City). Henry B. Harris had four siblings, including Minnie, b. 30 August 1865 (d. 1929 in New York as Mrs. Stearn/e), Jennie, b. ca. 1868 (later Mrs. Cohen), Gertrude, b. January 1877 in St. Louis (d. 1929 in Virginia as Mrs. Loeb), William Oakland, b. 22 July 1884 in Massachusetts (d. 2 September 1946 in New York City).
Henry B. Harris married Bertha Prager 3 February 1887 in Boston, Massachusetts, but she died 31 May 1895, aged only 27. Mr. Harris was noted as the manager of the Columbia Theatre at the time of his wife’s death.
He moved to New York at some point after the death of his first wife and married René Wallach on 22 October 1899.
In the theatrical agency in which he was a partner (with his father and Charles Frohman) Harry’s office was in the Empire Theatre; he was managing plays not only in New York at the time but in Philadelphia and Boston.
His principal producing theater in New York was the Hudson Theatre (1903). He also acquired the Hackett Theatre (1909), which he renamed the Harris Theatre (after his father) and built the Folies Bergére (1911) which he later named the Fulton Theatre.
His greatest success as a producer was won with Charles Klein's The Lion and the Mouse (1905) which made him a millionaire. Henry, known as “Harry” to friends and his wife, had previously managed such personalities as Lillie Langtry and Amelia Bingham and launched Robert Edeson as a star.
He also discovered Elsie Ferguson, Mae West and Ina Claire, among others. His later hits included The Chorus Lady (1906), The Third Degree (1909), The Country Boy (1910) and The Quaker Girl (1911). Harris also managed the controversial dancer Ruth St. Denis.
“the phenomenal success of Henry B. Harris Enterprises catapulted the producer into show-biz orbit as high as any star he promoted. A bona fide celebrity, he cared little for the distinction. Though “one of the great leaders in theatrical affairs of America,” as the Boston Globe observed, the paper found the showman a “quiet, unaffected, unamusing personage, a thinker, not a speechmaker; he is a practicalist, not an idealist.” By all accounts, he was sympathetic, considerate, and cheerful. Charles Burnham of the Theatrical Association of New York recalled that “no more generous heart ever beat in a human breast.” Augustus Thomas of the Lambs Club said Harry was not merely “receptive” and “unselfish,” but that his “high-mindedness” inspired emulation. Ruth St Denis recalled her benefactor as “nothing but generous and kind, a rare person to find in the atmosphere of Broadway.” - Broadway Dame by Randy Bigham and Gregg Jasper
Harris was treasurer of the Actors' Fund of America and was a trustee of the Hebrew Infant Asylum of New York. He had 18 companies on tour during the 1910-11 season. He was president of the Henry B. Harris Company and a director of the Theater Managers of Greater New York.
Harry and René Harris lived at 50 Central Park West, New York City. He was 5’10’’ tall, had dark eyes and black hair.
Harris and his wife boarded the Titanic at Southampton, they occupied cabin C-83 (ticket number 36973, £83 9s 6d).
A business friend of Harry’s, John D. Baumann, was travelling with the Harrises.
Harris died in the disaster, his body, if recovered, was never identified. After his death, newspapers reported that he was in fact heavily in debt.
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