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Noel Harrison is known best in music circles for scoring a hit in 1969 with "Windmills of Your Mind," a song written by Michel Legrand. The haunting single had received a boost when it was featured prominently in the Steve McQueen film The Thomas Crown Affair one year earlier, and thanks to the exposure, the single hit number eight on the charts in Britain.
Harrison began his mainstream recording career in 1966 with a self-titled LP for Decca, but he had previously been in the public eye, both for being the son of actor Rex Harrison (most famous for his role of Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady) and for his own role on television as Mark Slate in The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. (a spin-off of The Man from U.N.C.L.E.). Harrison continued recording until 1970, releasing several LPs for Reprise before eventually leaving Hollywood to make his home in Nova Scotia. There he hosted a television program called Take Time, which featured various songwriters, and also continued to sing.
After ten years he returned to Los Angeles, where he continued to compose songs and occasionally act. He added screenwriting to his list of credits and scripted several soft porn movies. In addition to acting and singing, Harrison is also a director and author. His father played opposite the singer's mother, Collette Thomas. The younger Harrison also took on the Higgins role, and has appeared in Camelot, The King and I, and The Sound of Music.
Noel Harrison (born 29 January 1934, London) is an English Olympic athlete, actor, and singer. He is the son of British actor Sir Rex Harrison.
Early life 
As a teenager he joined the Ipswich repertory theatre group and taught himself guitar, but his main interest was sport and most of his spare time was spent skiing in Switzerland. At an early age he was a member of the British ski team, becoming its first giant-slalom champion in 1953, and representing Great Britain at the 1952 Winter Olympics in Oslo, Norway and at the 1956 Winter Olympics in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy.
Harrison undertook National Service and, after leaving the army in the 1950s, toyed with the idea of becoming a journalist, but instead, concentrated on his guitar. His early break came when he took a regular part in the BBC Television programme, Tonight, as part of a team who sang the day's news in a calypso style.
When he was aged 20, he started playing professionally, around the tables in a Greek restaurant in London. He also made a living playing in bars and nightclubs all over Europe, including appearances at the Blue Angel Club, where one show was recorded for a live album.
Move to United States 
He left for the United States in 1965, working as a nightclub entertainer at such venues as San Francisco's Hungry I, and at the Persian Room in New York. Thanks to his managers Bob Chartoff and lrwin Winkler, who went on to produce the Rocky films, Harrison had a record reach the charts. The track was "A Young Girl", written by Charles Aznavour. In 1966-1967, Harrison appeared as Mark Slate in The Girl from U.N.C.L.E., as the co-star of Stefanie Powers (April Dancer). As Mark Slate, Harrison also appeared once on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. in a third-season episode titled "The Galatea Affair".
"A Young Girl" was included as one of the tracks on his debut album, Noel Harrison, in 1966. Two years later, he recorded "The Windmills of Your Mind", the theme tune from the film The Thomas Crown Affair, which won the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1968, and was also a Top 10 hit in the UK Singles Chart. Despite the song winning the 1968 Oscar for best original song, Harrison did not sing it at the Oscar ceremony. Instead his place was taken by Jose Feliciano. The change was made because Harrison was working on the film, Take A Girl Like You in England, with Oliver Reed and Hayley Mills. Coincidentally, his father Rex Harrison, had sung the Oscar winning song ("Talk to the Animals") only the previous year (1967).
The television series, plus the Top 40 record, landed Harrison a recording contract with Reprise, who released three of his albums, Collage, Santa Monica Pier and The Great Electric Experiment is Over. Collage reached #135 in the US Billboard 200 chart. He also toured with the Beach Boys, and Sonny and Cher, appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, featured on a music program, Hullabaloo and appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.
In 1968, Harrison played the male lead in The Fantasticks, in touring theatres in the round, including The Cape Cod Melody Tent in Hyannis, Massachusetts.
Move to Canada 
In 1972, Harrison left the US for Nova Scotia in Canada, settling in rural Mount Hanley. He bought a farmhouse house and 320 acres of farmland, and from there he commuted to Halifax where he hosted a show called Take Time for CBC Television. In the winter of 1974, the wood stove caught fire and his house burned down, inspiring Harrison to write the humorous song, "The Middleton Fire Brigade", which appeared on his 1979 album Mount Hanley Song. He subsequently built a new house from scratch with no electricity, inspired by the fashionable pioneers Helen and Scott Nearing and their self-help bible, Living The Good Life.
Touring shows 
During the 1970s, Harrison toured the US in productions of Camelot and The Sound of Music. He also played Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady, the part made famous by his father Rex Harrison, in the stage and film musical of the same name. Other touring roles included King Arthur in Camelot, Baron von Trapp in The Sound of Music, Don Quixote in Man of La Mancha, Brian Runicles in No Sex Please, We're British and Lloyd Dallas in Noises Off.
An admirer of Jacques Brel, Harrison later created a one-man musical, Adieu, Jacques, and in 2002 released an album of songs from the show.
Return to Britain 
In the late 1990s, Harrison returned to Britain, moving to Devon. He still sings, putting on occasional gigs and finances his own albums including Hold Back Time. A compilation album of his work for Reprise called Life is a Dream was released in 2003, and his debut album, Noel Harrison, was re-released in 2008. In 2010, he recorded a new album, From the Sublime to the Ridiculous!. The record was made as part of the internet event, the RPM Challenge, which challenged musicians to record a new album from scratch during the month of February.
In June 2011, Harrison played the Glastonbury Festival's "Spirit of '71" stage, marking 40 years since his appearance at the second staging of the then new festival. Television footage was recorded, including a solo backstage acoustic version of "The Windmills of Your Mind" for the BBC.