Oscar-winning songwriter Noel Harrison has died aged 79
Singer Noel Harrison, known to millions for The Windmills Of Your Mind, has died at the age of 79.
Harrison, who was best known for recording the hit song on The Thomas Crown Affair soundtrack, performed on Saturday night in Devon.
But the son of the late actor Rex Harrison had a heart attack at home that night and died several hours later after being taken to hospital.
His wife, Lori Chapman, said: “He will be loved and missed by more people than I ever knew.”
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Harrison performed at the village hall in Black Dog, Devon, on Saturday.
His wife said that the performance had been “extremely successful” but that he had “a long drive home” and was “exhausted” when he returned.
Harrison’s career took off after he moved to the US, part of the “British Invasion”spearheaded by the Beatles“, starring in TV series The Girl From UNCLE.
The Windmills Of Your Mind won an Oscar for best song.
But Harrison wrote on his website that he had not anticipated the song would become so popular and “my most notable piece of work”.
He wrote: “It didn’t seem like a big deal at the time.
“I went to the studio one afternoon and sang it and pretty much forgot about it. I didn’t realise until later what a timeless, beautiful piece Michel Legrand and the Bergmans had written.
“It won best song at the 1968 Oscars and turned out to be my most notable piece of work.”
Harrison, who lived in Devon, had five children and four grandchildren.
The Windmills Of Your Mind was the theme tune from the 1968 film The Thomas Crown Affair, starring Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway.
While in the US Harrison also released other singles, A Young Girl and Suzanne, written by Leonard Cohen.
Harrison, who married three times, moved back to Britain in the 1990s, settling in Ashburton, Devon, and in 2011 played Glastonbury Festival’s Spirit Of ‘71 stage.
The actor and singer was also British ski champion in 1953 and represented Britain at the Olympics.
Harrison’s mother was Collette Thomas, the first of his Hollywood star father’s six wives. His parents divorced in 1940.
Stefanie Powers, Harrison’s co-star in The Girl From UNCLE, paid tribute on Twitter, writing: “My darling friend Noel Harrison passed last night.
“Let us all light a candle to speed him on his way – he deserves to fly with the angels.”
Harrison’s third wife Chapman was a US stylist to stars such as Mickey Rourke and Arnold Schwarzenegger and later worked as a youth worker in Devon.