Popular Hollywood High School English Teacher's Death Called Suspicious

By Jason Kandel, Robert Kovacik and Samia Khan
|  Friday, Feb 14, 2014  |  Updated 8:00 PM PDT
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Mysterious Death of Former Hollywood Teacher

Harry Major

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Mysterious Death of Former Hollywood Teacher

Homicide detectives are investigating the death of an 82-year-old former Hollywood High School teacher whose body was found in his apartment. Robert Kovacik reports from Hollywood for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014.
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A former English teacher who taught at Hollywood High School after the "Golden Era" of Tinseltown was remembered on Friday as a legendary educator who was pivotal in helping shape the lives of celebrities and non-celebrities alike.

Harry Major, 82, was found dead under suspicious circumstances on Wednesday night in his apartment south of the famed Sunset Boulevard, police said. Although he was not officially identified, police sources confirmed the name.

Former students remembered Major as a great teacher.

"Mr. Majors (sic) (was) one of my favorite teachers," wrote Twitter user Wendy Shear. "RIP Harry."

Twitter user @MRBIGGEAR wrote that Major was a beloved member of the Hollywood High School community.

"Majors was legendary at Hollywood High," he wrote. "A tragic loss."

Few details were known about the death.

A neighbor said she thought she heard someone fall in the second floor apartment and that when she went to knock on the door, a woman answered and told her, Major was at the store.

"They said everything was fine," said the woman, who declined to be identified. "I left to work and then yesterday they found him dead."

Major taught English at Hollywood for nearly 30 years. He retired in the mid-1980s, apparently disillusioned by the influx of immigrants and second-language learners in Hollywood, he told People in an article published in 1982.

"I want out," said Major, who was actor John Ritter's favorite instructor. "I don't see a future for Hollywood High, and I don't want to be here as it continues downward."

The former Shakespeare scholar told the Los Angeles Times in 1985 that his students were no longer as interested in attending his classes.

"Students were checking in and out of my classes all the time," he said, according to The Times article. "Hardly any of them understood what I was trying to teach. I never knew if I was getting in a new crop of kids ... I used to try to put a positive tone on it, but after a while, I realized I didn't know where to even begin with them."

Major was mentioned in a book by Carrie White, who took his advanced composition class.

"Kids either hated him or worshipped him," White wrote in the book, "Upper Cut: Highlights of My Holllywood Life."

"I liked how Harry got into the minds of the authors and characters, He sure got into my mind. After his class I saws the world deeper and differently, through literature as opposed to only from my own experience."

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