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Harry Anderson, magician, actor, geek

Tonight I learned Harry Anderson, star of Night Court and Dave's World, passed away at age 65. 

I met him once, and we talked geek for about 45 minutes.  It must have been sometime in 1985. I was working in the store-within-a-store that was Macys Computer Store in San Francisco.

Back then, companies like IBM and Apple did not let just any store carry their products.  There were expectations of marketing and properly trained staff.  We were one of those stores. The year before, we'd been one of the few stores to have the Macintosh on its opening day.  I have written about how Steve Jobs came by that day to gauge public enthusiasm for his new baby.

One afternoon -- it was a quiet weekday -- I saw a guy wander into the department. Tall, skinny, wearing a dark suit and a 1960s style men's businessman's hat.  "Who does this guy think he is," I thought, "Harry Anderson?"

Then I realized it was.

I approached him and he wasn't looking for anything.  We talked geek for a while. His wife, his very pregnant wife, and maybe two year old daughter came in.  Mrs. Anderson was happy to have a place to sit for while Harry and I discussed Macs.

The little girl interrupted us a few times, so I set her up on an Apple II playing a Muppet game.  She was thrilled.  I remembered a profile I'd read about Harry a few months before in TV Guide.  "You're the little girl who's dad has pulled so may coins out of your ear, its where you ask your mom to look first for your lost shoes, aren't you?"  She assured me she was.  That anecdote had been in TV Guide.

It was the first I'd let on I knew who he was. He and his wife howled. She couldn't believe someone would remember something so obscure from the magazine piece. But I found it charming, and I found that family charming that day. 

Unfortunately that marriage didn't last Harry married a much younger woman, opened a magic store in New Orleans that was destroyed by Katrina. He and his wife moved to Ashville NC,where he passed way today.

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