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Fred Orin Harris

Fred Orin Harris, one of the founders of the Department of Dramatic Art, died Aug. 28 in Oakland. He was 97.

Harris wore many hats during his 28 years at Berkeley. His principal role was as teacher and mentor to hundreds of students -- among them Gregory Peck -- many of whom established careers on the stage and in television, radio, and film.

Harris chaired the Department of Dramatic Art from 1943 to 1961 and played a major role in the design of Zellerbach Hall and improvements to the Greek Theatre. He served as assistant dean of the College of Letters and Science for four years before retiring in 1968.

Before coming to Berkeley, Harris worked with the Actors Ensemble in New York and was studio director for Marie Ouspenskaya in New York and Hollywood in the late '30s. At Berkeley he produced and directed a wide range of works and was also expert in stage management and set design.

Harris was born on Jan. 24, 1901, in Sumpter, Oregon. He received a bachelor's degree from the University of Washington in 1924 and a Master of Fine Arts degree from New York University in 1939.

After his retirement Harris resumed his passion for painting and sketching, working on canvases right up to his death.

Memorial donations may be made to the Fred O. and Mary B. Harris Scholarship Fund, University Relations, 2440 Bancroft Way, Berkeley, CA 94720-4200.


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