Harry Connick Jr. was born September 11, 1967, in New Orleans, Louisiana. He began playing the piano and singing at the tender age of 3 and began performing publicly when he was 5. When he turned 18, Harry moved to New York City to further pursue his music career.
He is most known for his contributions to the music industry, but has also done extensive work in television, film and theater. He has sold more than 28 million records since releasing his debut album, Harry Connick Jr. in 1987. His most recent record release is titled, That Would Be Me, and was released in October 2015. He currently hosts his own talk show, which debuted in September 2016. Harry airs weekdays at 2 p.m. on FOX.
On May 6, 2017, Connick Jr. will sing the National Anthem at the Kentucky Derby.
Here is what you need to know:
1. His First Name Isn’t Actually Harry
Named after his father, the entertainer’s first name is actually Joseph. He was named Joseph Harry Fowler Connick Jr. at birth, but goes by his middle name, just like his dad.
His mom, Anita Frances, worked as a lawyer. She died of ovarian cancer in 1981. His father, Joseph Harry Fowler Connick Sr., served as district attorney of Orleans Parish. His parents also owned a record store and fostered their son’s love for music.
When Harry moved to New York, he attended Hunter College and the Manhattan School of Music. It didn’t take long for Harry to be discovered. He met with Columbia Records executive Sr. V.P. of A&R, Dr. George Butler, and inked a deal with the label shortly after. He first started out as a jazz musician but brought his vocals to the forefront when he released his second album, 20, in 1988.
Two years later, Connick Jr. landed his first role in the film Memphis Belle. He has been in more than a dozen movies and television shows since then.
2. He Is Married to Former Victoria’s Secret Model Jill Goodacre
Harry and his wife wed in 1994, four years after meeting at the Sunset Marquis Hotel in Los Angeles, People Magazine previously reported. Connick had been swimming in the hotel pool when Jill walked by him. He got out of the pool and followed her to the lobby, where he casually introduced himself and wasted no time asking her out.
“We have a mutual friend. Do you want something to eat?” Connick asked, and the rest was pretty much history.
The couple now has three daughters together, Georgia, 21; Sarah, 19; and Charlotte, 14. The girls and their mom surprised Harry on a November 2016 episode of his talk show. You can watch their appearance in the video below.
3. He Was a Judge on ‘American Idol’
American Idol executives did a lot of shuffling around when it came to the show’s judges and Connick Jr. joined the panel in 2014. Although he appeared on the show in 2010 as a mentor and a musical guest (which you can see in the video below), his addition to Idol was warmly received by fans.
Harry sat next to Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban for the final three seasons of the singing competition show. He seemed to really enjoy the change of pace, as being a judge on this type of show was unlike anything he’d done before in his career. He sat in Simon Cowell’s seat, which automatically gave him the role of the “harsh” judge.
“Simon is not a trained musician, so his is a very different skill set. The [music] teachers I had growing up were extremely tough. It was not warm and fuzzy. So this is very easy. But I still have to tell [the contestants] what I think. And hopefully they’ll take it to heart. They know I’m not screwing with them…I’m sure some people think I’m a jerk and some don’t. It doesn’t really matter. What I care about is how I can give [the contestants] information they can use in a very short amount of time,” he told Billboard Magazine in 2016, ahead of the show’s finale.
4. He Has Has Won 3 Grammy Awards and 2 Emmy Awards
Connick Jr. has been nominated for eight Grammy Awards. In 1990, he won the Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Performance, Male, for his work on the soundtrack for When Harry Met Sally. In 1991, he won the Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Performance, Male, for his album, We Are In Love. In 2002, he won the Grammy for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album for Songs I Heard.
He has also been nominated for three Emmy Awards. In 2004 and in 2011, he won Emmy Awards for Outstanding Music Direction for “Great Performances.”
5. He Was Arrested in New York in 1992 & His Daughter Georgia Was Arrested in 2015
A 24-year-old Harry Connick Jr. was arrested at New York’s JFK International Airport in 1992 after police said he tried to carry an unloaded, semi-automatic pistol onto a flight. At the time, Sgt. Stephen Prospero, a spokesman for the Port Authority police, told the New York Times that the musician/actor was “charged with a misdemeanor — fourth degree possession of a weapon — taken to Queens Central Booking and released on his own recognizance.”
In 2015, Georgia Connick was arrested after police say she gave alcohol to minors. The then 19-year-old threw a party at her family’s home in Connecticut while her parents were away. She was charged with permitting minors to possess alcohol and procuring alcohol for minors, according to WTNH.