Who Is Chris Harrison?
Chris Harrison began working in television while he was still in college in Oklahoma. His career really took off in 2002 when he was named as the host for ABC’s then new reality show, The Bachelor, which became a juggernaut and spurred several spin-off shows. Harrison has also hosted the Miss America pageant nine times and took over hosting duties for the syndicated version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? in 2015.
Early Years and Career
Christopher Bryan Harrison was born on July 26, 1971 in Dallas, Texas. He attended Lake Highlands High School, and then earned a soccer scholarship to Oklahoma City University. His foray into television began when he started covering college basketball for local cable news after being drafted through the university's athletic association.
In 1993, Harrison graduated with a degree in mass communications and began covering sports professionally for KWTV Channel 9 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He also had the opportunity to cover hard news stories, including the tragic April 1995 bombing at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City.
In 1999, he went to Los Angeles to audition for horse racing network TVG and became its lead anchor. Next, he hosted Designers' Challenge on HGTV, which was consistently one of the network's highest rated shows. He also hosted Mall Masters on GSN and Hollywood 411 on what was the TV Guide channel, now rebranded as Pop.
'The Bachelor' and Its Spinoffs
In 2002 Harrison became the host of ABC's hit romance/reality series The Bachelor and, in 2003, The Bachelorette. Today, the franchise is still going strong, dominating television ratings and trending on social media after each airing.
The hit series centers on a bachelor/bachelorette who has a pool of around 25 contestants to develop feelings for, ultimately choosing one to propose to by the end of the season. During the show, the bachelor/bachelorette and the contestants get whisked away to romantic locations where they go on individual and group dates. At the end of each weekly episode, the bachelor/bachelorette distributes roses to those contestants he/she feels a connection with; those individuals who aren't given roses are eliminated.
Through all of this conflict, Harrison narrates the proceedings (or “the journey”), lends a sympathetic ear to the protagonists and hypes the drama — especially during each finale, saying, "It's the final rose tonight!"
The series has received a lot of criticism for its lack of diversity and its failure to produce many lasting relationships much less marriages. Harrison defended the show against some of those charges in a 2014 interview with The New York Times Magazine, stating: "Is our job to break barriers, or is it a business? That’s not for me to answer. If you want to talk about that with me on a philosophical level, I’m happy to."
The show’s popularity has paved the way for several spinoffs that Harrison has also hosted: Bachelor Pad, The Bachelor Winter Games and Bachelor in Paradise. For the last, Harrison hosted the live after-show After Paradise with author and Bachelor enthusiast Jenny Mollen in 2015.
In May 2015, Harper Collins published Harrison’s debut novel, The Perfect Letter. Harrison drew upon his experiences from the Bachelor franchise to pen this romance novel about a love triangle involving a female book editor in New York City, her fiancé and the love she left behind in Texas. There is also a mystery surrounding a murder. Critics didn’t give the book the best reviews, but Harrison’s fans on Amazon and Goodreads have given it high marks.
Other Projects and Acting Career
Aside from the Bachelor series, Harrison also hosted the nationally syndicated game show, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? He joined the popular long-running franchise beginning with its 14th season in the fall of 2015, remaining on board until its final original episode in May 2019. Harrison has also co-hosted ABC's live coverage of the Miss America pageant for several years; he first hosted the iconic broadcast on ABC in 2004.
Over the years, Harrison has popped up in a few acting roles on various shows including Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Trophy Wife and Hot in Cleveland. He portrayed himself in the 2006 comedy Date Movie.
Personal Life and Son
Harrison married Gwen Jones, whom he met in college, in 1993. They divorced in 2012 but have remained friends and share custody of their children — son Joshua Harrison and daughter Taylor.
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