New Orleans Plight of Actor Harry Anderson of "Night Court" Chronicled in Hurricane Katrina Book

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New Orleans resident Harry Anderson, the comic actor who starred as Judge Harry Stone on the sitcom "Night Court," has been one of New Orleans' biggest post-Katrina advocates, but he’s finally pulling up stakes. Anderson is one of the "five people" in the New Orleans bestselling book, “The Five People You Meet in Hell: Surviving Katrina” by New Orleans resident Robert Smallwood.

New Orleans resident Harry Anderson, the comic actor who starred as Judge Harry Stone on the sitcom "Night Court," has been one of New Orleans' biggest post-Katrina advocates, but he’s finally pulling up stakes. The actor, who also starred in "Dave’s World" and appeared on "Saturday Night Live" and "Cheers," has closed his nightclub and is moving out of state. “But I love this place, and if your heart is here you can never really leave. I’ve been living here on and off or 30 years. I love New Orleans. It’s the most unique and enjoyable place in America,” Anderson said.

Harry Anderson is one of the “five people” featured in the New Orleans bestseller, “The Five People You Meet in Hell: Surviving Katrina,” by Robert Smallwood. A national book tour will kick off in San Francisco August 17 at Books, Inc. and will continue at Borders and Barnes & Noble stores in San Jose, Los Angeles, San Diego, Chicago, Miami, Houston, San Antonio, Atlanta, D.C. and twelve other cities.

“The Five People You Meet in Hell: Surviving Katrina” is the only book-length first person account of the events that unfolded in downtown New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. It has been selling out at local New Orleans stores. It is uniquely written in “a feral style with knowledgeable, first-hand passion,” said Rex Reed of the New York Observer.

The book, a riveting yet humorous eyewitness account of Hurricane Katrina and her aftermath in the French Quarter, also includes photos and narrative of the opening and 13-month ill-fated run of Anderson’s nightclub, Oswald’s Speakeasy. The passages document the plight of Harry Anderson and four other unique French Quarter residents with humor, suspense and poignancy.

The nightclub opened in June of last year during the slow tourism season and it was damaged during Hurricane Katrina in late August. As soon as he could, Anderson made repairs and loaned the use of his club out for French Quarter town hall meetings to help the neighborhood recover and provide a forum for political issues. Eventually, Anderson re-started his magic and comedy act shows but the ravages of Katrina on the New Orleans tourism industry proved too much to sustain it. “Then there were the exorbitant electric bills sent by the local utility for apartments in the building that had no electricity for months, water leaking into the streets from underground damage to water mains and the piles of debris that seemed to keep reappearing,” Anderson said. “After a while you have to ask yourself, ‘how am I doing? What about my peace of mind? What about quality of life?’”    

"Five People" author Robert Smallwood states, “Harry’s been a shining light for us, always offering new joke or quip and generously helping the city recover. He’s a great guy and we’re going to miss him a lot.”

Harry Anderson has been featured promoting his love and hope for New Orleans in The New York Times and other prominent publications and has also recently appeared on CNN and Bill Maher’s HBO show "Real Time." Although he sold his French Quarter home, Anderson will keep the nightclub and apartment complex in hopes of returning when some normalcy has been restored in New Orleans.

The riveting first-person “five people Katrina” book is suspenseful and entertaining. Harry Anderson exclaimed, “It’s a great read in a clear voice. I especially like the parts about me!” Rex Reed added, “It’s unique and gutsy and what I call writing without a net!”

The book predicts that the artistic community in New Orleans will return with even greater prominence once affordable housing returns for artists and writers. Smallwood begins his account with, “Although the nation and the world pities New Orleans and mourns its death-by-media, those whose heart and spirit live there know that what makes the city so unique hasn’t been destroyed by the effects of Katrina, but rather, temporarily dispersed. People in Houston, Denver, Atlanta, New York and elsewhere are getting a watered-down dose of New Orleans culture -- an inimitable romantic brew of history, music, art, cuisine, corruption, carnality, faith, and freedom. And as these elements return to New Orleans, like moths to a flame, with the focused fervor that tragedy brings to art, it will rise to be even greater than it once was: the most hauntingly distinct and enjoyable place in America and cultural icon for the world.”

"The Five People You Meet in Hell: Surviving Katrina," is published by Bacchus Books of New Orleans and is available online at, as well as major bookstores and Borders and Barnes & Noble bookstores nationwide. Members of the press may request interviews and a review copy by e-mailing the author directly.

The Five People You Meet In Hell: Surviving Katrina

By Robert Smallwood

Bacchus Books of New Orleans

246 pages


About the Author:

Robert Smallwood is a New Orleans French Quarter resident. He shares his birthplace, Davenport, Iowa, with traditional jazz great Bix Beiderbecke and his birthday, July 5, with French writer and filmmaker Jean Cocteau. Smallwood left Iowa and moved to New Orleans in 1982. He has published over 100 articles in computer trade journals and is regarded as an international expert in enterprise content management technologies. This is his first book.


Robert Smallwood



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