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Richard Benjamin Harrison, Jr.
Born Richard Benjamin Harrison, Jr.
March 4, 1941(1941-03-04) (age 79)
Danville, Virginia
Other names The Old Man (nickname)
The Appraiser
Alma mater Lexington High School,
North Carolina
Occupation Businessman
Reality television personality
Years active 1983–present
Spouse(s) JoAnne Rhue Harrison (1960–present)
Children Sherry Harrison (deceased)
Joe Harrison
Richard Kevin Harrison
Chris Harrison[2]

Richard Benjamin Harrison, Jr. (also known by the nicknames The Old Man and The Appraiser) (born March 4, 1941),[3] is a Las Vegas businessman and reality television personality, best known as the co-owner of the World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop, as featured on the History channel series Pawn Stars. Harrison is co-owner of the pawn shop with his son Rick Harrison,[4] which they opened together in 1989.[5][6]

Harrison is usually referred to by his nickname, "The Old Man",[7][8] which he earned at age 38.[9]

Early life[edit | edit source]

Richard Benjamin Harrison, Jr.[10][11] was born March 4, 1941.[3] Harrison's grandson, Corey, has mentioned that his grandmother stated that they are related to President William Henry Harrison. Harrison has indicated that he does not give much credence to this idea,[12] though he has stated that they are distantly related to Benjamin Harrison.[13]

When Harrison was one year old, his family moved to Lexington, North Carolina, where they lived at 115 Peacock Avenue, just off South Main Street.[1][3] Harrison attended Lexington High School, but left during his junior year.[14] Harrison's family was poor, and to make money, Harrison drove a school bus when he was 14, parking the bus at his house every night, and getting up early the morning to pick up the schoolchildren, for which he was paid five or six dollars a week.[15]

Marriage and the military[edit | edit source]

When he was 17, Harrison attended a barn dance, where he met his future wife, JoAnne Rhue, the daughter of Joseph Rhue,[16] a county judge, who later became one of the lead attorneys for Philip Morris in North Carolina.[15] They married in 1960.[16] Before they married, however, Harrison stole a car, and after he was arrested, was given a choice by the judge to go to prison or the military. Harrison chose the latter.[15] Joanne became pregnant with their first child immediately after they married, and Sherry, their first child, was born with Down syndrome. They also had three sons, Joseph, Richard Kevin "Rick" Harrison (born 1965) and Chris. Harrison left the Navy in February 1962, but re-enlisted fourteen months later in order to obtain the health care benefits necessary to meet Sherry's medical expenses. She died when she was six years old.[15]

Harrison ultimately served in the U.S. Navy for 20 years,[1][15][17] including stints as a paymaster, and attaining the rate of Petty officer, first class. Harrison served on four ships, including his final five years on fleet tug ATF 100 USS Chowanoc.[18][19]

In 1967 Harrison was transferred by the Navy to San Diego, California.[15] Harrison continued to serve in the Navy, while JoAnne obtained her real estate license in 1970 and opened her own office in 1973. After Harrison was discharged from the Navy, he worked part-time in his wife's office. Declining real estate sales caused by interest rates as high as 18 percent cost Harrison $1,000,000 and the collapse of this business in 1981.[20]

Business career[edit | edit source]

With only $5,000, in April 1981, Harrison and his wife and three sons moved to Las Vegas, Nevada, where he opened Gold & Silver Coin Shop in a 300 square foot shop at 1501 Las Vegas Boulevard. In 1986 he relocated the business to a larger building at 413 Fremont Street. In 1987 he obtained a license to buy and sell second-hand goods.[2]

The business's lease expired in 1988. In 1989, Harrison and his son Rick opened what would become the World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop at 713 Las Vegas Boulevard South, located less than two miles from the Las Vegas Strip.[2][5] The most common item brought into the store is jewelry.[21] As of July 2011, the store has 12,000 items in its inventory,[22] 5,000 of which are typically held on pawn.[23] According to episodes of Pawn Stars, Harrison is the first to arrive at the shop in the morning,[24] and has not had a sick day since 1994.[25]

Since July 19, 2009 Harrison and his son, Rick, along with his grandson Richard Corey "Big Hoss" Harrison[26] and Corey's childhood friend and employee Austin "Chumlee" Russell, have featured in the reality television program Pawn Stars on the History Channel. Harrison is depicted as saying little and easily angered. "Chumlee" has stated that he is "old and cranky",[27] while Harrison himself indicates: "My role on the show is to be an old grump."[28] Within ten weeks of its debut, Pawn Stars was the highest rated program on the History channel,[29] and second highest rated reality show program behind Jersey Shore.[30] In that same period the average number of customers in the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop increased from 70 to 700 per day.[29] By February 2012 between 3,000 to 5,000 people visited the store each day.[31]

Awards and recognition[edit | edit source]

In March 2010, Harrison, his son, grandson and Austin "Chumlee" Russell were awarded the key to the city of Las Vegas, by Mayor Oscar Goodman.[32] Harrison and the other stars of Pawn Stars served as grand marshals for the History 300 NASCAR race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 26, 2012.[33]

On May 29, 2012, Harrison was awarded a key to the city of Lexington, his hometown, by Lexington Mayor Clark Newell, in the Lexington City Council Chamber, and the day was also officially "Richard Harrison's Day".[34][35][36]

On July 17, 2012, the Clark County Commission declared that day to be "Pawn Stars/Gold & Silver Pawn Day". At the Commission meeting, Harrison donated $1,000 to the Clark County Museum, and lent the U.S. Senate floor chair used by Senator Patrick McCarran (sold to the Gold and Silver in the Pawn Stars episode "Take a Seat") to the museum as part of a display on Senator McCarran.[37]

Harrison and his son Rick, were nominated for the 2012 Time 100 list.[38]

Other appearances[edit | edit source]

On December 5, 2011, Harrison made a special appearance at the American Country Awards 2011, giving a speech onstage.[39]

On February 25, 2012, he was a guest star at a Celebrity Bingo Bow Wow charity event, which was held at the Silverton Casino Lodge.[40]

Legal issues[edit | edit source]

Daniel Callahan[edit | edit source]

In May 2012, Daniel Callahan (born 1950) filed a lawsuit in the District Court in Las Vegas claiming that Harrison and his son Rick failed to provide "reasonable and necessary" security at their store, seeking around $20,000 for injuries he allegedly suffered from being "dragged out of the pawn shop and tossed on the sidewalk" after an argument over a rifle he had brought. Harrison's grandson Corey defended them both, stating that they were never in direct contact with Callahan and "it was in our best interests to get him out of there."[41]

Interference with business practices[edit | edit source]

In October 2012, A&E Network and The History Channel, as well as Harrison and the rest of the cast members from the show, were sued in Clark County District Court in Las Vegas for interference with business practices by Wayne F. Jefferies,[42] a Las Vegas promoter[43] and the Harrisons' manager, who represented them and "Chumlee" Russell in their television business dealings.[44] Jefferies, who managed and operated the Las Vegas world cuisine restaurant Seven in 2001,[45] and who, as an event promoter, put up to $75,000 in support of the 2005 and 2006 Las Vegas Red, White and Boom Independence Day event,[46][47] was instrumental in helping to launch the series[48][49] Jefferies states that after the show premiered, his influence in the show was increasingly reduced, and that he was ultimately fired and left without his promised share of fees and merchandising royalties from the series, purportedly due to network executives after a January 2012 leaked story on TMZ that indicated at the Pawn Stars cast were taken aback by the History's launch of the spinoff Cajun Pawn Stars, of which the cast had been unaware.[43][50]

Personal life[edit | edit source]

Harrison is particularly passionate about automobiles, showing an interest in all types of cars.[51] Cars he has owned or expressed an interest in on the television series include his 1966 Chrysler Imperial, which took him fifteen years to convince the previous owner to sell,[52][53] and was subsequently restored by his son and grandson for his 50th wedding anniversary;[54] a 1957 Chevy 150 sedan given to him by the stars of two other History shows, American Restoration and American Pickers;[53] and the mid-1960s B&Z Electra-King electric car shown to them in "Honest Abe", which he suggested could be converted into a golf cart.[55]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Huffman, Steve (February 18, 2011). "'The Old Man' from ‘Pawn Stars' recalls growing up in Lexington". http://www.the-dispatch.com/article/20110218/NEWS/302189971. Retrieved June 2, 2012. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Harrison, Rick (2011). License to Pawn: Deals, Steals, and My Life at the Gold & Silver. Hyperion. 2011. New York. ISBN 978-1-4013-2430-8
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "Pawn Stars’ Richard "Old Man" Harrison Celebrates 70th Birthday". Vegas News. March 4, 2011
  4. 'Pawn Stars': Rick Gets Bad News About His Strongbox Purchase (VIDEO) Huffington Post. Retrieved August 15, 2012.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Katsilometes, John (April 8, 2010). "Pawn shop boys". http://www.lasvegasweekly.com/news/2010/apr/08/pawn-shop-boys/. Retrieved June 14, 2013. 
  6. Strauss, Gary (February 18, 2010). "From 'Pawn Stars' to 'Pickers,' America's trash is TV's treasure". http://www.usatoday.com/life/television/news/2010-02-19-trashtv19_CV_N.htm. Retrieved June 2, 2012. 
  7. Meet the Pawn Stars: The Old Man "The Appraiser". History. Retrieved February 10, 2011.
  8. Leach, Robin (February 5, 2013). "Rare $1,000 bill on ‘Pawn Stars’ becomes Old Man’s keepsake". http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2013/feb/05/rare-1000-bill-pawn-stars-becomes-old-mans-keepsa/. Retrieved February 15, 2013. 
  9. "Fired Up". 
  10. Barker, Victoria (May 9, 2012). "TV's hidden treasures". AsiaOne Showbiz. http://news.asiaone.com/News/Latest%2BNews/Showbiz/Story/A1Story20120509-344714.html. Retrieved June 6, 2012. 
  11. Shemeligian, Bob (July 13, 2010). "Road to 'Pawn' – Before 'Stars,' Rick made sandwiches". http://www.nypost.com/p/entertainment/tv/road_to_pawn_vtN2GZyL7mIGmNEFsyC6JN. Retrieved August 18, 2011. 
  12. "Harrison for President". 
  13. "Les is More". 
  14. Huffman, Steve (February 18, 2011). "Locals remember ‘Pawn Stars' character as nice guy". The Dispatch.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 15.4 15.5 Harrison (2011). p. 9-11; 90-91.
  16. 16.0 16.1 Rich, Brad (October 3, 2012). "Star of Pawn Stars visits Swansboro". http://www.carolinacoastonline.com/tideland_news/news/article_51ae5496-0d60-11e2-a298-0019bb2963f4.html. Retrieved October 31, 2012. 
  17. Christopher Lawrence (July 5, 2012). "Hit show brought fame, but 'Pawn Stars' cast says it's stayed the same". Las Vegas Review-Journal. http://www.lvrj.com/neon/hit-show-brought-fame-but-pawn-stars-cast-says-it-s-stayed-the-same-161409705.html. Retrieved November 1, 2012. 
  18. Tetrault, Rich. "Vegas: Oh What a Time We Had!". Towlines (Winter 2010). p. 11.
  19. Waugh, Scott (October 19, 2010). "Interview with Richard Harrison from Pawn Stars". You Served.
  20. Elder, Laura (December 27, 2009). "Locals learn hard reality of 'Pawn Stars'". The Daily News. (Galveston, Texas)
  21. "Pezzed Off". Pawn Stars. Episode 2.15. History. January 25, 2010
  22. "Face the Music". 
  23. "The Wright Stuff". 
  24. "Phoning it In". 
  25. "Big Guns". 
  26. Powers, Ashley (July 14, 2008). "Hard times are their stock in trade". Los Angeles Times.
  27. Shepatin, Matthew (August 16, 2010). "'Pawn Stars' Hero Chumlee: 'Corey Lost 30 Pounds'". PopEater. http://www.popeater.com/2010/08/16/pawn-stars-chumlee-interview/. Retrieved November 1, 2012. 
  28. Harrison. 2011. p. 97.
  29. 29.0 29.1 Elfman, Doug (December 23, 2009). "'Pawn Stars' becomes a History Channel hit". Los Angeles Times.
  30. Seidman, Robert (January 25, 2011). "'Pawn Stars' Delivers 7 Million Viewers, An All-Time High for History". TV by the Numbers.
  31. Devan, Subhadra (February 3, 2012). "Licence to be stars". Sunday Life & Times.
  32. "Mayor Oscar Goodman Gives Key to City to Pawn Stars". March 12, 2010. http://www.vegasnews.com/21459/mayor-oscar-goodman-gives-key-to-city-to-pawn-stars.html. Retrieved October 31, 2012. 
  33. "'Pawn Stars' to Serve as Grand Marshals for HISTORY 300; Two Lucky Fans to Watch the Race with the TV Celebrities". Speedway Media. March 10, 2012.
  34. Edwards, Deenisha (May 29, 2012). "'Old Man' Harrison honored by city for 'Pawn Stars' success". http://www.the-dispatch.com/article/20120529/NEWS/305299977. Retrieved June 2, 2012. 
  35. Gustin, Scott (May 29, 2012). "Lexington’s ‘Pawn Star’ to be given key to city". WGHP. http://myfox8.com/2012/05/29/lexingtons-pawn-star-to-be-given-key-to-city/. Retrieved June 2, 2012. 
  36. Leach, Robin (May 22, 2012). "Strip Scribbles: Steve Wynn’s L.V. neighbors — in N.Y.; Ray J hospitalized". Las Vegas Sun.
  37. Toplikar, Dave (July 17, 2012). "Richard Harrison of ‘Pawn Stars’ lends McCarran chair to museum". Vegas Deluxe.
  38. "The 2012 TIME 100 Poll". Time. March 29, 2012. http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2107952_2107953_2110157,00.html. 
  39. "The American Country Awards 2011". Zimbio. December 4, 2011. http://www.zimbio.com/photos/Richard+Harrison/American+Country+Awards+2011/cMN8cjNGrP5. Retrieved November 1, 2012. 
  40. Leonard, Nick (February 28, 2012). "2012 Celebrity Bingo Bow Wow at Silverton". http://www.lasvegassun.com/photos/2012/feb/28/154433/. 
  41. Clarke, Norm (May 6, 2012). "'Pawn Stars' staff backed in incident". http://www.lvrj.com/news/-pawn-stars-staff-backed-in-incident-150335415.html. 
  42. Divito, Nick (October 8, 2012). "Reality Show Stars Face Real Lawsuit". Courthouse News Service. http://www.courthousenews.com/2012/10/08/51065.htm. Retrieved October 31, 2012. 
  43. 43.0 43.1 Ritter, Ken (October 8, 2012). "'Pawn Stars' sued by former manager in Las Vegas". http://www.lvrj.com/news/-pawn-stars-sued-by-former-manager-173162951.html. 
  44. Katsilometes, John (November 5, 2011). "Goodman set for role as TV judge". p. 6. http://www.zimbio.com/Las+Vegas+Sun/articles/88nzFirmNzV/Goodman+set+role+TV+judge. Retrieved October 13, 2012. 
  45. Hiesiger, Michael (May 21, 2001). "Inside Business". p. 2D. http://www.reviewjournal.com/lvrj_home/2001/May-21-Mon-2001/business/16133551.html. 
  46. Miller, Valerie (July 4, 2005). "Celebrations turn to entertainment promoters". p. 2. http://www.lvbusinesspress.com/articles/2005/07/01/news/news03.txt. Retrieved October 13, 2012. 
  47. "12th Annual Red White And Boom Festival On July 3,4 At Desert Breeze Park". May 24, 2006. http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P3-1041783891.html. Retrieved October 13, 2012. 
  48. Katsilometes, John (October 13, 2011). "Garrett to exit Trop for MGM Grand". p. 6. http://www.zimbio.com/Las+Vegas+Sun/articles/kw0frO9lksA/Garrett+exit+Trop+MGM+Grand. Retrieved October 13, 2012. 
  49. John Katsilometes (October 14, 2011). "Goodman stays in spotlight". p. 1. http://www.lasvegassun.com/blogs/kats-report/2011/oct/13/disorder-court-showgirls-martinis-expected-oscar-g/. Retrieved October 13, 2012. 
  50. Brown, Eric (October 5, 2012). "Pawn Stars Cast Facing Lawsuit From Ex-Manager, Wayne Jefferies". http://www.ibtimes.com/pawn-stars-cast-sued-former-manager-over-alleged-breach-contract-842315. Retrieved October 13, 2012. 
  51. His passion for cars is mentioned in the Pawn Stars episodes "Rope a Dope" and "Honest Abe". He mentions in the episode "Sharks and Cobras" that he has owned 40 cars in his life.
  52. Cammisa, Jason (May 2010). "As Seen on TV: The Pawn Stars' 1966 Imperial Crown Convertible". http://www.automobilemag.com/reviews/driven/1005_pawn_stars_1966_imperial_crown_convertible/viewall.html. Retrieved August 16, 2012. 
  53. 53.0 53.1 Read, Richard (October 3, 2011). "1957 Chevy From 'Pawn Stars' Catches Fire, Gets Restored Within Hours". Motor Authority. http://www.motorauthority.com/news/1066820_1957-chevy-from-pawn-stars-catches-fire-gets-restored-within-hours. Retrieved August 21, 2012. 
  54. "Old Man's Booty", Pawn Stars. Season 2, Episode 3. History. December 7, 2009
  55. "Honest Abe" Pawn Stars. Season 3, Episode 26. History. November 1, 2010

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