‘American Idol’ Judge Mourns Father’s Death: ‘Hard to Believe’

In a heartfelt Instagram video posted on February 1, 2024, former “American Idol” judge Harry Connick Jr. addressed the recent death of his father, prominent New Orleans political figure Harry Connick Sr., at age 97, calling him “my best friend and my hero.”

Connick Jr., 56, was at his dad’s side when he died at his home on January 25, People confirmed, along with other family members. According to local news station WWL, a funeral was held on January 31, where family members said he died after “a prolonged illness.”

In the caption of his post, Connick Jr. wrote, “thanks to everyone for the posts, messages, thoughts and prayers… knowing y’all took the time to think of me and my family meant the world to me… i will miss him dearly, but i know he is at peace and with God now… i am deeply grateful and my heart is full… ❤️”

Here’s what you need to know:

Harry Connick Jr.’s Dad Was a Prominent Figure in New Orleans Who Nurtured His Son’s Musical Talents

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A post shared by Harry Connick Jr (@harryconnickjr)

Connick Jr., who was born and raised in New Orleans, wore a black Saints cap in his somber selfie video.

“Hey y’all,” he began. “Some of you may have heard that my dad died last week and, as you can imagine, I’m heartbroken. My dad was my best friend and my hero, and even though he was 97 years old, it’s still hard to believe that he’s gone.”

“But something that really helped me get through it was hearing from all of y’all,” he continued. “I got so many posts. I haven’t had a chance to go through them all. But just knowing that y’all care and that you took the time to reach out and express your condolences to me and my family was so helpful and uplifting. So I just wanted to take this opportunity to say thanks and I love y’all so much.”

With a slight smile, Connick Jr. added, “And my dad loved you. And I’m just so appreciative of all the love. Thank y’all very much.”

Connick Jr.’s last Instagram post with his father was on November 1, in which he said “hangin’ with my dad” was his “favorite thing in the world.” He added that he typically visited him once a month in New Orleans.

Connick Sr. dad was a prominent figure in New Orleans, serving as the city’s district attorney for three decades from 1973-2003, according to the Associated Press.

The Navy veteran, who served in the South Pacific during World War II, was also a musician who performed weekly in French Quarter nightclubs, the AP reported. He encouraged his son’s musical talents, even arranging for the jazz piano prodigy to sit in with local Dixieland players and New Orleans music legends like pianist Eubie Blake, drummer Buddy Rich, and keyboardist Ellis Marsalis.

Connick Sr. got to witness his son go on to become a celebrity as a singer, composer, Emmy-winning actor and “American Idol” judge on seasons 13 through 15.

In 2016, Connick Jr. told People that his dad was instrumental in helping him and his sister Suzanna cope with the death of their mom Anita in 1981, when the musician was just 13.

“I think had it not been for my father and his incredible gifts as a father and unwavering support of me and my sister and my extended family’s support, I’m not so sure I could have gotten through it,” he recalled. “It was unquestionably the hardest thing that’s ever happened to me before or since. You just take what you’re given and accept it with grace and try to move on with your life.”

Fans & Famous Friends Leave Thousands of Comments for Harry Connick Jr.

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Connick Jr., who returned to the “Idol” franchise in 2023 as a judge on “Australian Idol,” had received nearly 9,000 comments on his post within a day of sharing it. Many famous friends were among those who left their condolences.

Actress Marishka Hargitay, who has been a good friend for decades, simply wrote, “love u t”

Season 14 top 10 “Idol” finalist Daniel Seavey, who has since become a pop sensation with over two million Instagram followers, wrote, “praying for you and your family that you find all the comfort, piece, and silver lining that you can.. i’m so so sorry for your loss. 🤍”

“Entertainment Tonight” co-host Nischelle Turner wrote, “Popping into the DA’s office on Friday afternoons in New Orleans for chats with your dad were some of my favorite times while working there. I called them “Friday’s with Harry” and I learned so much about life, New Orleans and how to be a young reporter in the city. I appreciate him and all he taught me. ❤️”

Actress and singer Kristen Chenoweth commented, “I hadn’t heard. God bless you. Your daddy flies with the angels now. With my mama! Miss you!”

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