Best known by the nickname The Old Man, Richard Benjamin Harrison Jr. is an American-born business mogul and reality TV star. The ex-US Navy veteran gained the nickname “the Old Man” when he was just 38 years old. He was best known for featuring alongside some of his family members in the hit reality series Pawn Stars, a reality series based on their family business, the World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop. In 2012, Richard “Old Man” Harrison was nominated for the Time 100 list alongside his son and co-owner of the Pawn Shop Rick Harrison.
Richard “Old Man” Harrison
The Old Man a.k.a. Richard Benjamin Harrison Jr. was born on March 4, 1941, in Danville, Virginia. When he was barely a year old, his family relocated to Lexington, North Carolina where he was raised. Harrison had his high school education at Lexington High School, a stark contrast to what his family has become today. He was raised in a very poor home. Therefore, in order to support his family, he worked as a school bus driver during his teenage years for which he earned about five or six dollars weekly.
In 1960, Richard Harrison Jr. was arrested for car theft, however, he opted to join the military in order to avoid jail. He ended up serving a total of 20 years in the United States Navy and upon retirement, he became a realtor after which he became a businessman and eventually turned into a global TV star.
Richard “Old Man” Harrison was married to his high school sweetheart wife of almost 59 years JoAnne Rhue. The couple tied the knot on July 7, 1959, having met as teenagers the previous year. While Harrison was in the US Navy, his wife Joanne obtained her real estate license and went on to establish her own office in 1973. Upon his retirement from the military, Harrison joined his wife in the real estate business working parttime. The couple had 3 children together; daughter Sherry and sons Joseph, Rick, and Chris. However, the family lost their daughter Sherry when she was just 6 years old.
Way back in 1989, the Old Man’s son Rick established a 24-hour family business which is today known as the World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop, located in Las Vegas, Nevada. 20 years after its establishment, the Pawn Shop was developed into a full-fledged reality TV show Pawn Stars on the History Channel. The show which debuted on July 26, 2009, chronicles the day-to-day happenings in the World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop as well as interpersonal conflicts among the cast.
Pawn Stars was an instant hit becoming the highest-rated program on the History Channel within its first 10 weeks. The popularity of the show equally reflected positively on the family’s business as their customer base increased by tenfold. Pawn Stars has also been ranked as the second-highest-rated reality series on TV and its successful run has been sustained for nearly a decade. The business was originally run by the Old Man, his son Rick Harrison, his grandson (Rick’s son) Corey “Big Hoss” Harrison, and Corey’s childhood friend Austin “Chumlee” Russell. On the Pawn Stars show, Richard Harrison Jr. was known to assume the “the grumpy wisecracking old man” persona which endeared him to fans all around the world.
In March 2012, Richard “Old Man” Harrison, alongside his Pawn Stars costars, was awarded the key to the city of Las Vegas by then-Mayor Oscar Goodman. He was also awarded the key to his home city of Lexington by then-Mayor Clark Newell on May 29, 2012, a day which has been officially recognized as “Richard Harrison’s Day”.
What Happened to the Old Man on Pawn Stars?
The Old Man on Pawn Stars passed on in June 2018 following a protracted battle with Parkinson’s disease. In his last years, the Pawn Stars patriarch had to greatly scale down his appearance on the show owing to his battle with the disease. He died on June 25, 2018, at 77 years of age in his Las Vegas residence surrounded by loved ones and family. Owing to his 20 years of military service, the Old Man had his casket draped with the United States flag during his July 1 funeral and was also sent off with a ceremonial rifle salute.