Thursday, April 15, 2021

Former actor joins Palm Springs race [archived newspaper article]


The Desert Sun

By Jeff Dillon

August 12, 1995


     PALM SPRINGS – Retired actor Richard Harisson said his skills and experience will help him put Palm Springs back into the limelight if he’s elected mayor in November.

     Harrison said his experience as a director in charge of large film crews and his travels across world give him the skills to oversee City Hall and to bring the city’s diverse ethnic groups together.

     “I can bring out what this city essentially was, its glamor. That’s our selling point and we have a lot to sell,” he said.

     Harrison is one of at least six residents seeking to replace retiring Mayor Maryanov in the Nov. 7 election. Beside choosing two council members, voters will decide the fate of the Palm Springs Regional Airport expansion and non-Indian gaming in Palm Springs.

     As in an actor, Harrison starred in more than 120 films, many made in Italy and Spain for overseas audiences. He’s described as an “American strongman in Italian spectaculars” in Halliwell’s Filmgoer’s and Video Viewer’s Companion.

     “I think the only country, I’m not known in is the United States, because all our films were dubbed,” Harrison said.

     He starred in films from ranging from “Executioner on the High Seas” (1961) to “Perseus among the Monsters” (1963), but Harrison says the role residents might know him for best is one he didn’t play – the lead gunslinger in “A Fistful of Dollars.” Harrison said he turned down director Sergio Leone’s offer for the part and recommended Clint Eastwood.

     Harrison he has been visiting Palm Springs since its heyday in the 1950s and moved here permanently in 1994, after losing three Malibu homes to fires.

     “While I see people doing little things to try and bring (Palm Springs) back, I think we need work on the image,” he said.

     The city needs to spend more on advertising and do a better job of exploiting events such as actress Sophia Loren’s appearance at the Palm Spring’s International Film Festival, Harrison said.

     “Palm Springs needs a hell of a lot, more PR,” he said.

     The city also needs to ease its regulations on businesses and development.

     “Nobody want to lose that small-town feeling in the middle of town… but this isn’t a small town anymore. This is a city,” he said.

     Harrison said he supports the expansion of the airport with certain compromises because tourism is the life blood of the city.

     “Even for a small airport, this is passe, even for the airports I saw 40 years ag,” he said.

     Harrison opposes efforts to merge the Cathedral City and Palm Springs fire departments, saying the city should retain local control.

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