NAMES IN THE NEWS : Harris Tells of Stage Fright

<i> From Times staff and wire service reports</i>

Richard Harris says he was so tense before the opening of his first West End stage appearance in 25 years that he was almost physically ill.

Harris, 59, won the audience at London’s Wyndham Theatre on Wednesday with a performance in Pirandello’s “Henry IV.” But before the curtain went up, he had a classic case of jitters.

“I was very tense. I thought, ‘Oh God, what if I let everyone down and I just threw up,’ ” he said. “I felt a great deal of nervousness but I just knew I had to get out there and do it.”

Harris plays a wealthy 20th-Century man who bangs his head and believes he is the 11th-Century German king. For 20 years his friends and servants join in his fantasy by turning his home into a replica of the period.