At the time of his passing, Harris was living in Collierville, Tennessee. Harris had worked the Dixie National Radio 35 times during his illustrious career.
His sad death was announced in a statement on his official Facebook page that read, “With immense and unbelievable sadness, I regret to inform everyone that Lecile Harris passed peacefully in his sleep last night after completing the Dixie Nationals Rodeo in Jackson, Mississippi. Thank you for your consideration in respecting our family’s privacy and allowing us time to grieve.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Harris Had Been Suffering From the Flu
Announcer Mike Mathis, who worked with Harris during his final performance, told ProRodeo.com, “(Lecile) said he was getting lightheaded and thought he might be getting the flu. He said he was going to go to bed. I left Jackson this morning (Feb. 13) and came to Hattiesburg (Miss.). We start it with an event here and then the rodeo Friday and Saturday. Lecile told me that he was not going to get up early, he was going to sleep a little later and he would see me at Hattiesburg this afternoon (of Feb. 13). This morning, the people at the hotel went in and found him unresponsive. I was shocked.”
The executive director of the Mississippi Fair Commission Steve Hutton was quoted by WABT as saying of Harris’ passing, “All of us involved at the Dixie National are truly saddened today. Everyone from the staff here at the Fairgrounds, to the staff of Harper Morgan Rodeo Company, to our tens of thousands of loyal supporters, sponsors and fans. We all send our love and wishes to Lecile’s family, friends, and adoring fans around the world.”
2. Harris Said in 2015 That He Had No Plans to Retire
The Pro Rodeo feature mentions that during the height of his career, Harris worked over 100 shows per year. In 2015, Harris told the website, “I’m doing what I want to do. I’m working the rodeos I want to work, the ones I enjoy. And, when I get to where I’m not enjoying it and I can’t get a little golf in on the side, then I’ll quit.”
In 2015, Harris released his autobiography, “Lecile: This Ain’t My First Rodeo.”
3. Harris Began His Career as a Bullfighter & Broke His Back Twice
Harris began his career as a bullfighter and bull rider. At the age of 52, Harris suffered an accident while competing and turned full-time to his rodeo clown career. Harris told Tour Collierville in an interview that he has broken his back twice, and has had over 100 bone breaks concussions and torn ligaments in his knees and ankles. During the same interview, Harris said that had also been coaching young bullfighters.
Harris went on to talk about missing bullfighting saying, “You know, and every time I got hit, I always thought, “I did something wrong.” Or either the bull was just a better athlete than I was or he outsmarted me, so it was a competitive thing to me to get back in there and try him again to see if I can out-move him.”
4. Harris Has Appeared in Multiple Movies Over the Years
Among Harris’ mainstream movie appearances where his acting turns in “The Last Days of Frank and Jesse James,” “Final Chapter: Walking Tall” and “W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings,” according to his IMDb page.
Harris’s last movie appearance came in 1986. The legend said in a 2012 interview, “When the day comes that I’m in the arena and I’m not getting the job done, I will walk out and never go back. I may go to Branson and do standup. I may continue my speaking tours. I may be available for the occasional movie. I don’t think I’ll ever get out of the entertainment business. I don’t think my wife could stand me around for that long.”
Harris paid tribute to his wife in a 2019 Instagram post that included the caption, “The love of my life ❤️😍thank you for sticking by me, growing with me, being my #1 supporter and life partner. Without you I wouldn’t be who or where I am today.”
5. Harris Is Being Mourned Throughout Social Media
As news of Harris’ sad death continues to spread, many fans have taken to social media en masse to mourn the legend. Here are some of the most poignant messages of remembrance:
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by – heavy.com