Birth Date: June 24, 1904
Birth Place: Linton, Indiana, USA
Date of Death: August 11, 1995 / Age: 91
Location of Death: Rancho Mirage, California, USA
Cause of Death: heart failure
Biography: Phil Harris (June 24, 1904 – August 11, 1995) was a United States singer, songwriter, jazz musician and actor.
Harris was born Wonga Phillip Harris in Linton, Indiana, on June 24, 1904. He began his career in show business as a band drummer in San Francisco. In the late 1920s, he formed an orchestra with Carol Lofner, and began a long run at the St. Francis Hotel. By 1932, the partnership had broken up, and Phil Harris was leading and singing with his own band based in Los Angeles.
In 1936, Phil Harris became the musical director of the Jack Benny show. In addition to singing and leading the band, Harris was an important member of Jack's gang on this ensemble show, playing himself as a hard-drinking, brash, egotistical, illiterate Southerner. His obnoxious but good-natured character was a popular addition to the cast, known for his musicians' hipster slang, and his casual use of nicknames for the rest of the cast. His usual entry line was to greet Benny with a cheery, "Hiya, Jackson!" His signature song from the program was "That's What I Like About the South."
In 1941, Harris married actress Alice Faye. With Faye, Harris hosted the Fitch Bandwagon radio series from 1946 to 1948. The couple also starred in their own radio program, The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show, from 1948 to 1954. In this domestic situation comedy, Harris and Faye played themselves, while actresses played their daughters Alice, Jr. and Phyllis.
Harris made many guest appearances on popular television programs during the 1960s and into the 70s, with many appearances on the Kraft Music Hall, The Dean Martin Show, Hollywood Palace and other music and variety programs.
Harris also worked as a singer and voice actor for animated files, with performances in the Disney animated features The Aristocats, playing Thomas O'Malley, and The Jungle Book where he voiced the character of "Baloo the Bear" and sang one of the movie's showstoppers, "The Bare Necessities." He was also the voice of Little John in the 1973 animated movie Robin Hood. He was a close friend and associate of Bing Crosby. Harris was also famous for an early 1950s novelty record, "The Thing." The song talks about the hapless finder of a box with a mysterious secret and his efforts to rid himself of it.
Harris was also a longtime resident and benefactor of Palm Springs, California where he died in 1995. He is buried there in the Palm Springs Mortuary & Mausoleum.