It was from these appearances, coupled with performances of magic acts on late night talk shows that mixed hilarity with the craft's organic wonderment, that got Anderson the starring role in 1984 in an ensemble cast on Night Court.
Anderson's long-time co-star Markie Post tweeted, "I am devastated".
LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) ― Harry Anderson, the amiable actor who presided over the NBC comedy "Night Court" for nine seasons, has died at his home in Asheville, N.C., according to a local media report.
He played the boyish judge as a wise-cracking prankster who also was an amateur magician, like Anderson himself. "I guess they figured I was an actor", he told the Bradenton Herald.
His role as the swindler Harry (the Hat) Gittes on "Cheers" - he appeared in six episodes, four in the first two seasons - led to his break on "Night Court" after he impressed the legendary television executive Brandon Tartikoff.
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"Cheers' was my first acting job, but it was basically the character I had developed on the street", he said. Guest spots on that show landed Anderson his breakout role in "Night Court" as Judge Stone - a character who, like Anderson, also was a magician.
Anderson sold his home in Pasadena, Calif., and moved back to New Orleans, where he had lived in the 1970s. He also starred in the 1990s sitcom "Dave's World", based on the life of Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Dave Barry.
Barry said on Twitter that Anderson "was a very talented guy, and, more important, a genuinely nice guy".
"I'm glad we tried to stay", he said, "but I don't want to be the person I will be if I stay here".
Anderson was age 65, and survived by his wife of 18 years Elizabeth Morgan. He moved to New Orleans in 2000 where he opened a nightclub and a magic shop in the French Quarter. He often performed a one-man show - a mix of magic and humor - until Hurricane Katrina swept through.