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Richard Harrison, ‘The Old Man’ of ‘Pawn Stars,’ dies

Updated June 25, 2018 - 1:17 pm

Richard Harrison, who became known to millions of “Pawn Stars” fans as “The Old Man,” never set out to be a TV star.

He was pleased just to see folks filling the family business, Gold & Silver Pawn Shop, in downtown Las Vegas.

But with his unassuming disposition and sly jabs at son Rick and grandson Corey, “The Old Man” became famous.

“He’s been a favorite all over the world,” Rick Harrison said Monday morning, hours after his father died after a lengthy battle with Parkinson’s disease. “He was a rock star in 150 countries.”

Rick Harrison was with his 77-year-old father when he passed away about 4 a.m. He said the family had braced for his father’s death for about two years, when “The Old Man” made his final appearance on the History series.

“We knew it was coming,” he said. “It was such a long battle, a slow progression. It just ravaged him.”

Corey Harrison said, “At first, he couldn’t care less about being on TV. He was just happy to see all the customers at the store. He thought it was a waste of time at first, but he wound up loving being on the show.”

He chuckled as he recalled his grandfather’s popularity.

“I loved all the blue-haired ladies would walk up and pinch his butt,” he said. “He was really, really popular with fans.”

Harrison’s death was announced Monday morning on the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop’s Facebook page.

The announcement said the Las Vegas resident “was surrounded by loving family this past weekend and went peacefully.”

Cast member and family friend Austin “Chumlee” Russell posted this morning on his Twitter page:

“It’s hard to believe he is gone. He was such a big part of my life and treated me like family. I will miss him greatly and carry the lessons he taught me throughout my life. You could always count on him to straighten you out or make you laugh, and both of those things I need.”

Rick Harrison said plans for a memorial service are being worked out. Donations in Richard Harrison’s name can be made to the Epilepsy Foundation. (Rick Harrison suffered from the condition as a child.) Flowers were being placed in “The Old Man’s” honor Monday at Gold & Silver Pawn.

Richard Harrison was especially proud of his military career. He served in the U.S. Navy for about 20 years, reaching the rank of petty officer, first class. A photo of him from his Navy days hangs in the Gold & Silver Pawn offices.

Richard Harrison had scaled back his “Pawn Stars” appearances over the past few years. The show, which premiered in July 2009, resumes filming in September.

“It was a third career I’d never even imagined: military then real estate then TV star,” he told the Las Vegas Review-Journal through a publicist in January. As for what he enjoyed most about his semiretirement, Harrison said, “spending more time with my wife and grandkids,” before joking, “and not working with Corey, Chum and Rick every day.”

Corey Harrison said the ribbing the two shared on the show reflected their real-life relationship.

“I worked with him every day, and he was more than my grandfather,” he said. “He was my best friend.”

He said he could write a book filled with advice his grandfather shared.

“He was never a guy who would carry anger around,” Corey Harrison said. “If there was a problem, he was the guy to fix it. He wouldn’t sweat the small stuff.” In passing, Corey said, “I think he was pleased at how his life turned out.”

“The Old Man” also is survived by his wife, JoAnne. The two were married in 1960.

Rick Harrison remembers a final conversation he had with his father:

“He said, ‘I love you, son. Please take care of your mother.’ ”

Contact John Katsilometes at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter.

 

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