Robert Harron

Robert Harron

D.W. Griffith's legendary cameraman, G.W. Bitzer, gave this first-hand account of his friend Harron's mysterious death: "He lived . . . long enough to make his confession and receive the sacraments from Father William Humphrey . . . the priest who had brought him as a boy to the old Biograph studio . . . Bobby would not have lied to him . . . His death marked the end of an era. With Bobby's passing, some thread of unity seemed to leave us . . . We felt that Bobby had brought us luck when he came to us so young and eager . . . After Bobby's death in 1920, it was never the same again."

Although he played Lillian Gish's brother in The Birth of a Nation (1915), he also donned blackface and played one of the black townsfolk in a crowd scene when director D.W. Griffith was short an extra.

Brother of John Harron

Brother of actress Tessie Harron (1896-1918), who appeared unbilled with him in Hearts of the World (1918).

Harron's tragic death remains a mystery. Officially classified an accident, those who follow that theory believe that Harron, who was in New York on September 2, 1920, for the premiere of D.W. Griffith's Way Down East (1920), which was scheduled for the next day, purchased a revolver from a man who needed money, put it in his dinner jacket pocket and forgot about it. Later he took the dinner jacket from a trunk, the gun fell to the floor and discharged, striking him in the left lung. Those who maintain that Bobby's death was a suicide claim that Bobby was extremely despondent when Griffith bypassed him for the lead role in "Way Down East" in favor of his new protégé, Richard Barthelmess. At the time Bobby was contemplating leaving the Griffith fold and forming his own production company because of those concerns.

His parents were John Harron Sr. (1867-1930) and Anne Harron (1870-1955). Both outlived their famous son.

Off screen pseudonym: Willie McBain

Robert had eight other brothers and sisters. In addition to actor/brother John Harron (1904-1939), they included Charles Peter (1892-1915) who was the eldest and died in a Christmas Eve car accident), Anna Teresa (Tessie) who died during the Spanish influenza epidemic), Madeline, Agnes (who became a nun), Mary, Edna, and Frances Veronica (1907-1909) who died as a child. A few of Robert's other brothers and sisters also appeared in his films as extras. Of all nine children, John was the only one to marry and continue a new generation. He had one daughter, Colleene, who went on to have nine children of her own.