An aristocratic face and presence and a confident voice granted Leonard Harris – an acquaintance of Martin Scorsese – a significant role in Marty’s classic Taxi Driver (1976), playing the potential presidential candidate Senator Charles Pallantine, a target Travis Bickle has to eliminate in order to impress the girl he wants to date (and who also happens to work for Pallantine’s campaign). He has a bunch of scenes in the film but certainly leaves a mark in all of those, specially his memorable exchange with Travis in the cab.
Harris wasn’t actually an actor. Born in New York, he was a journalist who wrote obituaries and book reviews during his first years in journalism, and later on during an extensive time he was a culture critic during the late 1960’s and early 1970’s with many TV appearances. In between those works he wrote three novels. His other film credit is Hero at Large (1980), which also features Gene Palma, the street drummer who has a minor part in Taxi Driver.
He was married with Mary Ann Wurth for 12 years and they had two children. Harris died of pneumonia in Connecticut, at age 81.