Los Angeles, California
Paul William Harper, 76, passed away November 13, 2009, in Los Angeles, California following a brief illness. Memorial services will be held December 4, 2009, at the Van Nuys California Church of Christ.
Paul was born in Jackson, Tennessee, December 8, 1933, to Ernest R. and Ollie Poe Harper. He and his family moved to Little Rock, Arkansas when Paul was one month old, then to Abilene, Texas where he graduated from Abilene High School. Paul's abiding interest was drama and he was a student of the highly respected Ernest Sublett while attending Abilene, High.
A friend and fellow student of Paul's during this time said of him, "Paul Harper was better known for the last fifty years in Hollywood than in Abilene, his home town. Even as a teenager he was destined for the footlights by playing the "Love" interest in the famed state championship Abilene High Drama Department seeing as how he was obviously the most handsome lad in the class(1949-1952). "The Long Christmas Dinner" won the state championship for one act plays in '49. Perhaps he was best known in films as a character actor in some 30 odd films, like the character "Huey" in "The Wild Bunch." In television Paul gained iconic structure as the badmouthing Texans exclaiming "New York City?!?!" in the famous picante advertisement.
Paul graduated from the University of Texas in Austin in 1958, receiving a CFA in Drama. While attending UT, Paul studied under B. Iden Payne. Two of the characters he played while attending were Domain in the production "Love Labors Lost" and Stephano in "The Tempest." For several summers, Paul acted in various productions of the Ashland, Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Two of the characters he portrayed were Edar in "King Lear" and Patroclus in "Troilus and Gressida."
In 1969, Paul was on his way to Mexico to act in scenes for "The Wild Bunch" and He stopped by El Paso, Texas to visit and Abilene High friend and fellow thespian, Georgelynn Scoggins, who was a Television Anchor in El Paso. Later they became engaged and were married in El Paso.
Paul was a character actor and acted in many films and series. Among these were Kung Fu, J.W. Coop, Bonanza and The Waltons. One of his films "Thrill Ride: The Science of Fun," was one of the first virtual reality films and Paul had the only speaking part. Dressed as an old prospector, he coaxed a group of anxious passengers on to an old dilapidated-looking train waiting to take them for a wild ride. When they returned looking half dead, Paul, speaking in a broad Texas accent, which was easy for him being a Texan himself, invited him, "want to go agin?"
One day Paul took a visiting sister out to Universal City Park and suddenly she said, "Paul, I hear your voice. Is that you?" He laughed and took her over to the theater. Thrill ride was playing there and the sound track was being broadcast loudly over the whole Park.
Just the night before his death, his son David accompanied Paul to the fortieth anniversary of the motion picture "The Wild Bunch." Paul and Ernest Borgnine, on of Paul's oldest and best friends were two of the four actors in the picture still living. His lat night could not have been more perfect. He dressed in his finest western attire and was in his element with many of his motion picture friends. Paul got to walk the red carpet once more as the huge search lights lit he sky for his prestigious event. He was recognized for his achievement in "The Wild Bunch" which many say is the greatest western movie ever produced. Paul signed autographs until he became to tired to sign any more.
In his later years Paul volunteered with fellow actors to many causes, such as serving Thanksgiving dinner to those who may not have had a place to go. He also enjoyed being with family and friends and told endless dramatic and entertaining stories in a manner that only he could deliver.
Preceding him in death were his parents Ernest and Ollie Poe Harper, a sister, Ernestine (Teenie) Harper Wood, a brother-in-law, William B. Gililland, and his wife Georgelynn Scoggins Harper. Survivors include one son, David Harper of Valley Village, California, two sisters, Mary Nell Gililland of Abilene, Texas, and Ann Youree of Nashville, Tennessee, two nephews, David Harper Gililland of Abilene, Texas and Charles Youree, Jr. of Nashville, Tennessee and three nieces, Martha Sue Gililland Jobe of Heath, Texas, Margaret Ann Bohannan Casey of Abilene, Texas, and Linda Lee Youree Hudson of Nashville, Tennessee. He is also survived by many great nieces and nephews and numerous friends.
HARPER, Paul William
Born: 12/8/1933, Jackson, Tennessee, U.S.A.
Died: 11/13/2009, North Hollywood, California, U.S.A.
Paul Harper's westerns - actor:
Fandango - 1969 (Greaser)
The Wild Bunch - 1969 (Ross)
Bonanza (TV) - 1970 (Sully)
J.W. Coop- 1972 (Warden Morgan)
Bloody Trail 0 1972
The Culpepper Cattle Co. - 1972 (Trapper)
The Bounty Hunter (TV) - 1972 (Hargus)
Kung Fu (TV) - 1972-1974 (Amos, Davey Peartree, Sam Wallace)
Wildside (TV) - 1985 (Wirtz)
Ghost Rock - 2004 (Lee O'Riley)