Robin Harris was set to appear on a film based on his comedy sketch when he unexpectedly died in his sleep. Medical experts concluded the 36-year-old comedian's death was caused by a heart attack.
Close to three decades ago, comedian Robin Harris was at the prime of his career when he died in his sleep due to a heart attack.
Harris was only 36, at the peak of what would have been a stellar career in making people laugh. He banked on jokes about being ugly and broke, a far cry from who he truly was.
Born in Chicago, he grew up in Los Angeles and later moved to Kansas where he began his career as a stand-up comedian. For a decade, he performed to a sold-out crowd in local clubs until he drew the attention of filmmakers like Spike Lee and Reginald Hudlin. He would later be cast in Lee’s films, “Do The Right Thing” in 1989 and “Mo Better Blues” in 1990. He also landed a role in Eddie Murphy’s 1989 hit “Harlem Nights” and most famously as Pop in the 1990 film, “House Party,” which was his last before he died.
On March 18, 1990, Harris performed his final comedy show in Chicago before he was discovered by his brother lifeless in his room at the Four Seasons Hotel.
A medical examiner concluded he died of cardiac arrhythmia which is a natural condition. There were no traces of narcotics or poison as previously suspected.
Though his life was short, Harris left a legacy that lives on in other comedians who look up to his brand of humor.
He was supposed to appear in Hudlin’s film, “Bebe’s Kids,” which was based on his comedy sketches with the same name but due to his death, it was adapted into an animated film which was released two years later.
He was also briefly resurrected in the sequel to “House Party”, “House Party 2” in the early 90’s. Using special effects, filmmakers brought his picture to life so he could utter the words, “Keep your mind on them books and off them ‘gals!”
It would be nice to imagine a world today with Harris still in it. No doubt, he’d still be dishing jokes and evolving with the new generation. It's a good thing he left a son who was born just months after his death to remind us of him. Robin Harris Jr. was unfortunate not to have met his father but hearing about the impact he had on entertainment gets him by.
Harris Jr. is currently a rap artist who even dedicated one of his tracks, "Sons of a Legend" to his father. Others hoped he would also tread the path the late comedian took because he inherited his father's sense of humor. But the 28-year-old says he can never come close to his father's skill in the craft.