Harry Connick, Jr. (born Joseph Harry Fowler Connick, Jr. — a mouthful!) is American Idol 2014’s new kid on the block. The charming multi-hyphenate (composer, actor, singer) and father of three is from the Big Easy, which explains his laid-back nature and that sexy Southern drawl.
Harry is the son of the former District Attorney of New Orleans (his dad) and a judge (his mom), which severely limited the amount of trouble he could get into as a teenager. It sounds crazy, but he started playing the piano when he was just 3 years old, was performing with jazz bands by 10, performing in NOLA clubs as a teen, and released his first album by 19. He’s probably best known for the tracks he composed and sang on the soundtrack of iconic late ’80s romance flick, When Harry Met Sally, and this work won Harry his very first Grammy.
Aside from Randy and Simon, we think Harry is one of the most legit (and funny) judges American Idol has ever had. He’s a three-time Grammy winner, an Emmy winner, and has had more #1 albums than any other jazz artist in the country. Yeah, we’d say he’s qualified to find America’s next superstar.
Here’s more stuff you probably didn’t know about American Idol’s newest judge:
He married a Victoria’s Secret model.
Sorry, ladies! Harry’s been happily married since since the mid-’90s, and to a former Victoria’s Secret model, no less! Harry married gorgeous Jill Goodacre in April 1994, and now has three daughters with her. You might remember Jill from that famous Friends episode where Chandler gets stuck in an ATM vestibule with her.
He was on Will & Grace for four seasons.
On the acting side of things, Harry is probably known for his recurring guest role as Grace’s love interest (and later her husband) Dr. Marvin “Leo” Markus in the last four seasons of Will & Grace. On his role, he told HuffPost Live, “I am a slower, more kind of laid-back person, and I always felt like my character didn’t gel with the pace of that show [...] I always felt like, ‘Man, am I slowing the show down?’ but they kept asking me to come back!”
Fun fact: Like all actors, he’s also done the obligatory Law & Order: SVU stint.
People think he looks like…
Harry told Craig Ferguson, “I get — I swear I’m not lying to you. Troy Aikman I can kind of see. I get Troy Aikman. I get Spike Lee and Don Knots. I get it all the time.”
He met his idol Sinatra and it didn’t exactly end up awesome.
Harry sang for Sinatra at his 75th birthday party and ending up messing up the song in front of the music icon and many other famous musicians at the party — talk about pressure! Afterwards, he tried to catch up with Sinatra to introduce himself and apologize. He ended up catching him in the elevator with his soon-to-be wife Jill Goodacre by his side, and the story (told to Piers Morgan) goes a little something like this:
“But there I was in front of him, two feet away from him. And I said, "Mr. Sinatra, I'm Harry Connick. I'm the guy who just sang for you and messed it up and blah, blah, blah." And the doors opened. And it would have been, in my mind, a perfect opportunity for him to sort of put his hand on my shoulder and say, young man, you know, you've -- you carry forth, you know? But he went to my wife and sort of cradled her face in his hands and said, ‘you're beautiful.’ Then he kisses her right on the lips and left.”
Awkward! Harry’s been dubbed the next “Frank Sinatra,” but we doubt Sinatra would see it that way!
He was at the very first American Idol finale.
His history with the show goes much farther back than a few seasons of mentoring. Harry told Ellen DeGeneres that he sat in the audience when Kelly Clarkson won!
He has a love for Crocs.
When asked by about the first thing he packs for a trip by Condé Nast Traveler, Harry wasn’t shy about divulging his love of the unfashionable rubber-like clogs. He said, “I always wore my Crocs, but my wife is making me phase those out, she doesn’t like them. But I still try to sneak them on there.” For shame, Harry. For shame!
He can play the hell out of some drums and the trumpet
Harry’s no one-instrument guy, and here’s proof:
He can also play the trumpet, but we’re not sure how well exactly...
He likes to... box?!
When asked by fans on Moviefone’s “Unscripted,” he said the one thing his fans would be surprised to learn is that he “likes to box.” This is definitely surprising considering he’s a piano player!
He gives back.
Hurricane Katrina displaced many of New Orleans’ musicians, and Harry did his part to help out in his hometown. In order to help rebuild New Orleans and preserve the city’s rich music culture, he created NoLa’s Musicians’ Village with fellow jazz musician Branford Marsalis and Habitat For Humanity. Musicians’ Village is a community of more than 80 homes built for New Orleans’ treasured musicians and is home to the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music.
In June 2013, Harry wrote a tribute song called “Love Wins” for a friend and fellow musician named Jimmy Greene who lost a daughter Ana Grace in the Newtown shootings. All of the proceeds from the song go to Jimmy and his family.
He’s performed at the White House for FLOTUS.
Harry and his band performed New Orleans favorite “When the Saints Go Marching In” back in February 2010. Not only did he perform for FLOTUS, he’s also loved by FLOTUS. Are you impressed yet? This is how she introduced him: “Somebody who I love dearly and who has just been a friend to us for a very long time.”