Published May 22, 2013
In 2010 millions of viewers mourned the untimely death of Captain Phil Harris, the star of “Deadliest Catch” who died at age 53 of a stroke and heart failure. Now his two sons Josh and Jake Harris have written a biography of their dad. Even though Josh Harris told FOX 411 they adored their father, the pair don’t paint a purely angelic portrait of him. His womanizing, hard drinking and rebellious nature are all included.
FOX 411: Did you discover anything about your father that you didn’t know?
JOSH HARRIS: Lots. For example I was always told my parents met at a picnic. I found out after I interviewed a couple of people that my parents met at a strip club where my mom was a dancer. I thought I partied hard back in the day but my Dad definitely had me beat. He got down. He definitely got his name known.
FOX 411: Yeah we were surprised reading how hard fishermen party.
HARRIS: We treat every day like the weekends and the weekends like New Year’s to a certain extent. Back in the heyday everybody would party like rock stars but now law enforcement has definitely cracked down on all that. Blood tests and urine analysis for insurance. The industry has changed quite a bit.
FOX 411: Why do you think people loved “Deadliest Catch”?
HARRIS: What you see is what you get. It’s real life situations. The Kardashians are put together but for us it’s not like you can say, “Excuse me Mother Nature can you throw another roll wave our way in another five minutes? Our lighting wasn’t quite right.” It’s the real deal. You can’t fake the real deal.
FOX 411: You filmed your dad’s death.
HARRIS: My dad wrote on a napkin right before he passed away, ‘You’ve got to finish the story. It needs an ending.’ I think they did a really tasteful job on it. I’ve only seen the episode one time. They gave it to me a month before it aired and it took me a month and a half after it aired to watch it. It was tough to watch our last conversation which I totally forgot about. It was pretty traumatic. A lot of people have gotten a lot of comfort from the way we reacted to the situation because it’s pretty common.
FOX 411: And now you’ve bought the boat, Cornelia Marie.
HARRIS: It’s taken three and a half years. It was extremely hard. I’m extremely broke so it’s time to make some money! My kids’ kids are going to be poor if I don’t make it and succeed so you better believe all my energy and efforts are going to make sure this boat runs.
FOX 411: Your dad did not have an auspicious start.
HARRIS: He was voted least likely to succeed in high school. They graduated him early because they didn’t want to deal with him. He got pretty pissed so he decided to prove them wrong. Whenever you told my dad he couldn’t do something he would automatically just go do it to prove them wrong.
FOX 411: You had a rough time living with your dad and stepmother.
HARRIS: My dad was gone nine to 11 months a year. I was 15 and I ended up leaving. He needed someone to look after my younger brother. My mom was out of the picture at that point in time.
FOX 411: Weren’t you angry with him?
HARRIS: We didn’t talk for a couple of years. We had our little spat and then he eventually got divorced and we could have a relationship again. As I get older I understand where he was coming from. He worked his whole life towards his dreams and goals. He did a pretty great job of raising me and teaching me a work ethic.
FOX 411: Is it harder to make money now as a fisherman?
HARRIS: It’s a lot harder. Now it’s about politics. Now to fish you have to fill out a whole lot of paperwork and know people. We’re working ten times longer for half the pay.
FOX 411: How do you get rid of the fishy smell?
HARRIS: It’s just called taking a shower with a lot of soap. Sometimes it takes a couple of showers. Usually I’ll take my bag of clothes and leave them outside for three weeks.
FOX 411: How about your fingernails?
HARRIS: We have gloves on but it’s absolutely terrible. You don’t realize it when you’re up there but first time you’re back you’re like, “Oof! It stinks!”