His father, Harry Connick, Sr is a lawyer who became district attorney of New Orleans and was indicted on corruption charges.
Harry Connick, Jr., was born Joseph Harry Fowler Connick in New
Orleans, Louisiana, on September 11, 1967. His parents were both
lawyers who also owned a record store; his father was of Irish
descent and a Catholic, while his New York-born mother was Jewish.
His musical talents soon came to the fore when he learned the
keyboards at the age of three, played publicly at six and recorded
with a local jazz band at 10. His musical talents were developed at
the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts and under the tutelage
of Ellis Marsalis and James Booker.
Harry Connick, Jr. attended Jesuit High School in New Orleans. He moved to New York City to study at Hunter College and the Manhattan School of Music, where a Columbia Records executive persuaded him to sign with that label. His first record, Harry Connick Jr., was a mainly instrumental album of standards. He soon acquired a reputation in jazz due to extended stays at high-profile New York venues. His second album, 20, featured his vocals and added to this reputation.
With Connick's growing reputation, director Rob Reiner asked him to provide a soundtrack for his 1989 romantic comedy When Harry Met Sally, starring Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal. The soundtrack consisted of several standards, including "It Had to Be You", "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off" and "Don't Get Around Much Anymore", and achieved double-platinum status in the United States. He won his first Grammy for Best Jazz Male Vocal Performance for his work on the soundtrack.
Connick made his screen debut in Memphis Belle (1990), about a B-17 bomber crew in World War II. In that year, he began a two-year world tour. Not content with that, he released two albums in July 1990: the jazz trio album Lofty's Roach Souffle and another album of standards titled We Are in Love, which also went double platinum. We Are in Love earned him his second consecutive Grammy for Best Jazz Male Vocal.
"Promise Me You'll Remember", his contribution to the Godfather III soundtrack, was nominated for both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe in 1991. In a year of recognition, he was also nominated for an Emmy for Best Performance in a Variety Special for his PBS special Swingin' Out Live, which was also released as a video. In October 1991, he released his third consecutive multi-platinum album, Red Light, Blue Light, on which he wrote and arranged the songs. In October 1991, he starred in Little Man Tate, directed by Jodie Foster, playing the friend of a child prodigy who goes to college.
Harry Connick, Jr., was arrested in 1992 and charged with having a 9mm pistol in his possession at JFK International Airport. After spending a day in jail, he agreed to make a public-service television commercial warning against breaking gun laws. The court agreed to drop all charges if Connick stayed out of trouble for six months.
In November 1992, Connick released 25, a solo piano collection of standards that again went platinum. He also re-released the album 11. Harry Connick, Jr., contributed "A Wink and a Smile" to the Sleepless in Seattle soundtrack, released in 1993. His multi-platinum album of holiday songs, When My Heart Finds Christmas, was the best-selling Christmas album in 1993.
In 1994, Harry Connick, Jr., decided to branch out, releasing She, an album of New Orleans funk that also went platinum. In addition, he released a song called "(I Could Only) Whisper Your Name" for the soundtrack of The Mask, starring Jim Carrey, which is his most successful single in the United States to date. He took his funk music on a tour of the United Kingdom in 1994, an effort that did not please all of his fans, who were expecting a jazz crooner. One fan who walked out said, "We expected Frank Sinatra but we got Motörhead instead." The music was actually more reminiscent of the Meters rather than Motörhead. Connick also took his funk music to the People's Republic of China in 1995, playing at the Shanghai Center Theatre. The performance was televised live in China for what became known as the Shanghai Gumbo special.
Harry Connick, Jr. played a homicidal killer in his third film, Copycat (1995), which starred Holly Hunter and Sigourney Weaver. The next year, he released his second funk album, Star Turtle, which did not sell as well as previous albums, although it did reach No. 38 on the charts. However, he appeared in the most successful movie of that year, Independence Day (movie), with Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum.
For his 1997 release To See You, Connick recorded original love songs, touring the United States and Europe with a full symphony orchestra backing him and his piano in each city. As part of his tour, he played at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert in Oslo, Norway, with his final concert of that tour in Paris being recorded for a St. Valentine's Day special on PBS in 1998. He also starred in Excess Baggage opposite Alicia Silverstone and Benicio del Toro in 1997.
In May 1998, he had his first leading role in a movie in Hope Floats, with Sandra Bullock as his female lead. He released Come By Me, his first album of big band music in eight years in 1999, and embarked on a world tour visiting the United States, Europe, Japan and Australia. In addition, he provided the voice of Dean McCoppin in the animated film The Iron Giant in that year.
Harry Connick, Jr. was involved in writing the soundtrack for a Susan Stoman's Broadway musical Thou Shalt Not, based on Émile Zola's novel Thérčse Raquin, in 2000; it premiered in 2001. It was nominated for a Tony Award. He was also the narrator of the film My dog Skip, released in that year.
In March 2001, Connick starred in a television production of South Pacific with Glenn Close, televised on the ABC network. He also starred in his twelfth movie, Mickey, featuring a screenplay by John Grisham that same year. In October 2001, he again released two albums: Songs I Heard, featuring big band reworkings of children's show themes, and 30, featuring Connick on piano with guest appearances by several other musical artists. Songs I Heard won Connick another Grammy for best traditional pop album and he toured performing songs from the album, holding matinees at which each parent had to be accompanied by a child.
Harry Connick, Jr. appeared as Grace Adler's boyfriend (and later husband) Leo Markus on the NBC sitcom Will & Grace from 2002 to 2004. In July 2003, Connick released his first instrumental album in fifteen years, Other Hours Connick on Piano Volume 1. It was released on Branford Marsalis's new label Marsalis Music and led to a short tour of nightclubs and small theaters.
Harry Connick, Jr. appeared in the film Basic with John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson. In October 2003, he released his second Christmas album, Harry for the Holidays, which went gold and reached No. 12 on the Billboard 200 album chart. He also had a television special on NBC featuring Whoopi Goldberg, Nathan Lane, Marc Anthony and Kim Burrell. Only You, his seventeenth album for Columbia Records, was released in February 2004. A collection of 1950s and 1960s ballads, Only You, went Top Ten on both sides of the Atlantic and was certified gold in the United States in March 2004. Harry for the Holidays was certified platinum in November 2004.