Pat Harrington Jr., R.I.P.
We mentioned here at the end of November that Pat Harrington, Jr. — a fine comedian and human being — was in bad shape due to Alzheimer's. His wonderful life and career came to an end last night at 11:15 PM. He was 86.
He was Pat Harrington Junior because his father was a vaudeville star. Junior worked constantly as a comedian, comic actor, game show host and panelist, voice actor and occasionally even a dramatic performer. He first came to prominence as a member of Steve Allen's comic troupe along with Don Knotts, Louis Nye and others, and for his appearances on Jack Paar's show. Often, he assumed the character of Guido Panzini, an Italian golf pro. He was so convincing in the role that at one point, the immigration department checked, found no record of Panzini's entrance into this country and went looking for him.
Later generations knew Pat (Jr.) as Dwayne Schneider, the building superintendent on the situation comedy, One Day at a Time. It won him an Emmy, dozens of other roles and countless fans. Among his many voiceover jobs, he played the Inspector — the Clouseau-like character in the DePatie-Freleng cartoons — and supplied the Groucho-like voice of the stork in the Vlasic Pickle commercials.
Pat was widely (and probably unanimously) loved by other comedians and just about everyone he ever worked with. He was a genuinely nice, funny man with an endless supply of jokes, most delivered with expert timing and a wide range of flawless accents. He was also a very good audience for other funny people. Not all comics are.
He was a founding member of Yarmy's Army, a club for comedians and other funny people that somehow admitted me. It was a joy to see Pat at the meetings. He was one of those people who made you feel happy just because he was in the room. At the next meeting, I'm sure we will all tell stories about him but it won't begin to make up for his absence.