Julie Harris

Julie Harris
Julie Harris 1973.JPG
Publicity photo of Julie Harris (1973)
Born
Julia Ann Harris

(1925-12-02)December 2, 1925
DiedAugust 24, 2013(2013-08-24) (aged 87)
OccupationActress
Years active1948–2009
Spouse(s)
Jay Julian
(m. 1946; div. 1954)

Manning Gurian
(m. 1954; div. 1967)

Walter Carroll
(m. 1977; div. 1982)
Children1

Julia Ann Harris (December 2, 1925 – August 24, 2013) was an American actress. Renowned for her classical and contemporary stage work, she received five Tony Awards for Best Actress in a Play.

Debuting on Broadway in 1945, much against the wishes of her mother who wanted her to 'come out' as a society debutante, Harris was acclaimed for a complex performance as an isolated 12-year-old girl in the 1950 play The Member of the Wedding, a role she reprised in the 1952 film of the same name, for which she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress. In 1951, her range was demonstrated as Sally Bowles in the original production of I Am a Camera, for which she won her first Tony award. She subsequently appeared in the 1955 film version.

After a lull in the quality of motion pictures she had parts in, the 1960s saw Harris give acclaimed performances in classic films, including The Haunting (1963), and what is sometimes considered the screen role that allowed her to best display her talents, Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967), in which she played opposite Marlon Brando. A rare method actor, she won Tony awards for The Lark (1956), Forty Carats (1969), The Last of Mrs. Lincoln (1973), and The Belle of Amherst (1977). She was also a Grammy Award winner and a three time Emmy Award winner.

Harris was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame in 1979, received the National Medal of Arts in 1994,[1] and the 2002 Special Lifetime Achievement Tony Award.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Julia Ann Harris was born in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, the daughter of Elsie L. (née Smith), a nurse, and William Pickett Harris, an investment banker and authority on zoology.[3] She had an older brother, William, and a younger brother, Richard.[4] She graduated from Grosse Pointe Country Day School, which later merged with two others to form the University Liggett School. In New York City, she attended The Hewitt School.[5] As a teenager, she also trained at the Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School & Camp in Colorado with Charlotte Perry, a mentor who encouraged Harris to apply to the Yale School of Drama, which she soon attended for a year.[6] Harris was an early member of Lee Strasberg's Actor's Studio and was able to successfully use the techniques of method acting, which have been found difficult to shine with in female roles.[6]

Career[edit]

Stage roles[edit]

In 1952, Harris won her first Best Actress Tony Award for originating the role of insouciant Sally Bowles in I Am a Camera, the stage version of Christopher Isherwood's Goodbye to Berlin (later adapted as the Broadway musical Cabaret (1966) and as the 1972 film, with Liza Minnelli as Sally). Harris repeated her stage role in the film version of I Am a Camera (1955).

Of particular note is her Tony-winning performance in The Belle of Amherst, a one-woman play (written by William Luce and directed by Charles Nelson Reilly) based on the life and poetry of Emily Dickinson. She received a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Recording for the audio recording of the play. She first performed the play in 1976 and subsequently appeared in other solo shows, including Luce's Brontë.[7] Other Broadway credits include The Playboy of the Western World, Macbeth, The Member of the Wedding, A Shot in the Dark, Skyscraper, And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little, Forty Carats, The Glass Menagerie, A Doll's House, The Gin Game, and a North American tour in 1992 of Lettice and Lovage in the lead part originated by Maggie Smith on Broadway.

In 1983, Harris became a company member of The Mirror Theater Ltd's Mirror Repertory Company.[8] She became a mentor to the company, having urged Founding Artistic Director Sabra Jones to create the company from 1976 forward, when Jones married John Strasberg. Harris and Jones met at a performance of The Belle of Amherst, a revival of which The Mirror Theater Ltd recently performed in their summer home in Vermont.[9]

In an Actors Studio play, Marathon '33 (1963)

Harris ties with Angela Lansbury with five Tony Award wins (Audra McDonald has since passed them both, with six wins).[2] However, she holds the record (alongside Chita Rivera) for the most individual Tony Award nominations, with 10. In 1966, Harris won the Sarah Siddons Award for her work in Chicago theatre.

President George W. Bush and Laura Bush pose with the Kennedy Center honorees: From left to right: Julie Harris, actor Robert Redford, singer Tina Turner, ballet dancer Suzanne Farrell, and singer Tony Bennett on December 4, 2005, during the reception in the Blue Room at the White House

Film roles[edit]

Harris's screen debut was in 1952, repeating her Broadway success as the lonely teenaged girl Frankie in Carson McCullers' The Member of the Wedding, for which she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress.

Harris and James Dean in East of Eden (1955)

Director Elia Kazan cast her in East of Eden (1955) opposite James Dean in his first major screen role. She played the ethereal Eleanor Lance in The Haunting (1963), director Robert Wise's screen adaptation of a novel by Shirley Jackson, a classic film of the horror genre. Another cast member recalled Harris maintaining a social distance from the other actors while not on set, later explaining that she had done so as a method of emphasizing the alienation from the other characters experienced by her character in the film. Other notable films Harris appeared in during the 1960s include Requiem for a Heavyweight (1962), Harper (with Paul Newman) (1966), and Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967).

Another noteworthy film appearance was the World War II drama The Hiding Place (1975).

Television roles[edit]

Harris was nominated for 11 Primetime Emmy Awards for her television work, winning three. She starred as Nora Helmer opposite Christopher Plummer in A Doll's House (1959), a 90-minute television adaptation of Ibsen's play. She made more appearances in leading roles on the Hallmark program than any other actress, also appearing in two different adaptations of the play Little Moon of Alban,[10] her performance in the 1958 TV movie of the same name earning her the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie.

Her second Emmy win came for her role as Queen Victoria in the 1961 Hallmark Hall of Fame production of Laurence Housman's Victoria Regina. She received further Emmy nominations for a range of roles including Anastasia (1967), The Last of Mrs. Lincoln (1976) — where she reprised her Tony-winning role as Mary Todd Lincoln from the 1973 play of the same name — and The Woman He Loved (1988). She won her third Emmy award in 2000 for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance for her voice role of Susan B. Anthony in Not for Ourselves Alone.

In 1980, Harris guest starred in the series Knots Landing as country singer Lilimae Clements, the eccentric and protective mother of Valene Ewing (played by Joan Van Ark); she returned to the series as a regular character from 1981–1987. The role earned Harris a nomination for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series, and two Soap Opera Digest Award nominations.

Voice over work[edit]

Harris also did extensive voice work for documentary maker Ken Burns: the voices of Emily Warren Roebling in Brooklyn Bridge (1981), Ann Lee in The Shakers: Hands to Work, Hearts to God (1984), and most notably Southern diarist Mary Boykin Chesnut for Burns' 1990 series The Civil War.

Later years[edit]

On December 5, 2005, Harris was named a Kennedy Center Honoree. At a White House ceremony, President George W. Bush remarked, "It's hard to imagine the American stage without the face, the voice, and the limitless talent of Julie Harris. She has found happiness in her life's work, and we thank her for sharing that happiness with the whole world."[11] In the summer of 2008, she appeared on stage again in Chatham, Massachusetts as "Nanny" in a Monomoy Theater production of The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds.[12]

Harris continued to work until 2009, well into her eighties, narrating five historical documentaries by Christopher Seufert and Mooncusser Films, as well as being active as a director on the board of the independent Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater.[13]

Personal life[edit]

Harris lived in West Chatham, Cape Cod, for many years until her death.[14] Three times divorced, she had one son, Peter Gurian. A breast cancer survivor,[5] she suffered a severe fall requiring surgery in 1999, a stroke in 2001, and a second stroke in 2010.[15]

Harris died on August 24, 2013, of congestive heart failure at her home in West Chatham, Massachusetts.[11][16] Ben Brantley, theater critic for The New York Times, considered her "the actress who towered most luminously ... rather like a Statue of Liberty for Broadway."[17] Alec Baldwin, with whom she appeared in Knots Landing, praised her in a tribute in the Huffington Post: "Her voice was like rainfall. Her eyes connected directly to and channeled the depths of her powerful and tender heart. Her talent, a gift from God."[18] Harris was cremated after her death.[19]

On August 28, 2013, Broadway theaters dimmed their lights for one minute in honor of Harris.[20]

Filmography[edit]

Stage[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1945 It's a Gift Atlanta
1946 Henry IV, Part 2
Oedipus Rex
1946–1947 The Playboy of the Western World Nelly
1947 Alice in Wonderland White Rabbit
1948 Macbeth Witch
Sundown Beach Ida Mae
1948–1949 The Young and Fair Nancy Gear
1949 Magnolia Alley Angel Tuttle
Montserrat Felisa
1950–1951 The Member of the Wedding Frankie Addams
1951–1952 I Am a Camera Sally Bowles Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play
1954 Mademoiselle Colombe Colombe
1955–1956 The Lark Joan Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play
1957–1958 The Country Wife Mrs. Margery Pinchwife
1959–1960 The Warm Peninsula Ruth Arnold
1960 Little Moon of Alban Bridgid Mary Mangan
1961–1962 A Shot in the Dark Josefa Lantenay
1963–1964 Marathon '33 June Nominated — Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play
1964–1965 Ready When You Are, C.B.! Annie
1965–1966 Skyscraper Georgina Nomianted — Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play
1968–1970 Forty Carats Ann Stanley Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play (1969)
1971 And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little Anna Reardon
1972 Voices Claire
1972–1973 The Last of Mrs. Lincoln Mary Todd Lincoln Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play
1973–1974 The au Pair Man Mrs. Rogers Nominated — Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play
1974–1975 In Praise of Love Lydia Cruttwell
1976 The Belle of Amherst Emily Dickinson Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play
Grammy Award: Best Spoken Word Recording
1979 Break a Leg Gertie Kessel
1980–1981 Mixed Couples Clarice
1991 Lucifer's Child Isak Dinesen Nominated — Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play
1994–1995 The Glass Menagerie Amanda Wingfield
1997 The Gin Game Fonsia Dorsey Nominated — Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play

Films[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1952 The Member of the Wedding Frances "Frankie" Addams Film debut
Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actress
1955 East of Eden Abra Bacon
I Am a Camera Sally Bowles Nominated — BAFTA Film Award: Best Foreign Actress
1957 The Truth About Women Helen Cooper
1958 Sally's Irish Rogue Sally Hamil
1962 Requiem for a Heavyweight Grace Miller
1963 The Haunting Eleanor "Nell" Lance
1964 Hamlet Ophelia
1966 Harper Betty Fraley
You're a Big Boy Now Miss Nora Thing
1967 Reflections in a Golden Eye Alison Langdon
1968 The Split Gladys
Journey to Midnight Leona Gillings "The Indian Spirit Guide"
1970 The People Next Door Gerrie Mason
1975 The Hiding Place Betsie Ten Bloom
1976 Voyage of the Damned Alice Fienchild
1979 The Bell Jar Mrs. Greenwood
1983 Brontë Charlotte Brontë
1985 Crimewave Uncredited
1986 Nutcracker: The Motion Picture Clara (voice)
1988 Gorillas in the Mist Roz Carr
1992 Housesitter Edna Davis
1993 The Dark Half Reggie Delesseps
1996 Carried Aaway Joseph's Mother
1997 Bad Manners Professor Harper
1998 Passage to Paradise Martha McGraw
The First of May Carlotta
2006 The Way Back Home Jo McMillen
2008 The Golden Boys Melodeon Player
2009 The Lightkeepers Mrs. Deacon Final film role

Television[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1948–1949 Actors Studio 4 episodes
1951 Starlight Theatre Bernice Episode: "Bernice Bobs Her Hair"
1951–1953 Goodyear Television Playhouse 2 episodes
1955 The United States Steel Hour Shevawn Episode: "A Wind from the South"
Nominated — Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie
1956 The Good Fairy Lu TV movie
1957 The Lark Joan of Arc TV movie
1958 Little Moon of Alban Bridgid Mary Mangan TV movie
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie
Johnny Belinda Belinda TV movie
1959 A Doll's House Nora Helmer TV movie
1960 NBC Sunday Showcase Francesca Episode: "Turn the Key Deftly"
1960–1961 DuPont Show of the Month Mattie Silver/Julia 2 episodes
Nominated — Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Single Performance by an Actress
1961 Play of the Week Episode: "He Who Gets Slapped"
The Heiress Catherine Sloper TV movie
The Power and the Glory Maria (Priest's Mistress) TV movie
Victoria Regina Queen Victoria TV movie
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie
1963 Pygmalion Eliza Dolittle TV movie
1964 Little Moon of Alban Brigid Mary Mangan TV movie
Kraft Suspense Theatre Lucy Bram Episode: "The Roborioz Ring"
1965 The Holy Terror Florence Nightingale TV movie
Nominated — Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Achievements in Entertainment - Actors and Performers
Rawhide Emma Teall Episode: "The Calf Women"
Laredo Annamay Episode: "Rendezvous at Arillo"
1966 Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre Isobel Cain/Vicky Cain Episode: "Nightmare"
1967 Anastasia Anastasia TV movie
Nominated — Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie
1967–1968 Tarzan Charity Jones 4 episodes
1968 Garrison's Gorillas Therese Donet Episode: "Run from Death"
Run for Your Life Lucrece Lawrence Episode: "The Rape of Lucrece"
Daniel Boone Faith Episode: "Faith's Way"
Bonanza Sarah Carter Episode: "A Dream to Dream"
Journey to the Unknown Leona Gillings Episode: "The Indian Spirit Guide"
The Big Valley Jennie Hall Episode: "A Stranger Everywhere"
1969–1970 The Name of the Game Verna Ward/Ruth 'Doc' Harmon 2 episodes
1970 House on Greenapple Road Leona Miller TV movie
How Awful About Allan Katherine TV movie
1971 The Virginian Jenny Episode: " Wolf Track"
1972 Home for the Holidays Elizabeth Hall Morgan TV movie
1973 Thicker than Water Nellie Paine 9 episodes
Medical Center Helen Episode: "The Guilty"
Columbo Karen Fielding Episode: "Any Old Port in a Storm"
Hawkins Janet Hubbard Episode: "Die, Darling, Die"
The Evil Touch Aunt Carrie/Jenny 2 episodes
1974 The Greatest Gift Elizabeth Holvak TV movie
1975 Long Way Home TV movie
The Family Holvak 10 episodes
Match Game Herself (panelist) 6 total episodes (1 for syndication)
1976 The Last of Mrs. Lincoln Mary Todd Lincoln TV movie
Nominated — Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie
The Belle of Amherst Emily Dickinson TV movie
1978 Stubby Pringle's Christmas Georgia Henderson TV movie
1979 Backstairs at the White House Mrs. Helen 'Nellie' Taft Miniseries
Tales of the Unexpected Mrs. Bixby/Mrs. Foster 2 episodes
The Gift Anne Devlin TV movie
1980–1987 Knots Landing Lilimae Clements 165 episodes
Nominated — Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (1982)
Nominated — Soap Opera Digest Award: Outstanding Actress in a Supporting Role: Prime Time (1986, 1988)
1986 Annihilator Girl TV movie
Family Ties Margaret Episode: " The Freshman and the Senior"
1987 The Love Boat Irene Culver Episode: "Who Killed Maxwell Thorn?"
1988 The Woman He Loved Alice TV movie
Nominated — Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie
Too Good to Be True Margaret Berent TV movie
The Christmas Wife Iris TV movie
Nominated — CableACE Award: Actress in a Movie or Miniseries
1989 Single Women Married Men Lucille Frankyl TV movie
1990 The Civil War Mary Chestnut (voice) Miniseries; 9 episodes
1993 Vanished Without a Trace Odessa Ray TV movie
When Love Kills: The Seduction of John Hearn Alice Hearn TV movie
1994 Scarlett Eleanor Butler Miniseries
One Christmas Sook TV movie
1995 Secrets Caroline Phelan TV movie
Lucifer's Child Isak Dinesen TV movie
1996 Little Surprises Ethel TV short
The Christmas Tree Sister Anthony TV movie
1997 Ellen Foster Leonora Nelson TV movie
Nominated — Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie
1998 The Outer Limits Hera Episode: "Lithia"
1999 Love Is Strange Sylvia McClain TV movie
Not for Ourselves Alone Susan B. Anthony (voice) TV documentary
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Lifetime Honors – National Medal of Arts". National Endowment for the Arts. Archived from the original on July 21, 2011. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
  2. ^ a b "Tony Awards Facts & Trivia". Tony Awards. Retrieved August 25, 2013.
  3. ^ "Julie Harris profile at". FilmReference.com. Retrieved November 15, 2012.
  4. ^ 1940 United States Federal Census
  5. ^ a b Mula, Rose Madeline. "Julie Harris – Too Good to be True?". Senior Women Web. Retrieved November 15, 2012.
  6. ^ a b Weber, Bruce (August 24, 2013). "Julie Harris, Celebrated Actress of Range and Intensity, Dies at 87". The New York Times. Retrieved August 25, 2013.
  7. ^ "William Luce's Bronte – Press". Samuel French, Inc. Retrieved August 25, 2013.
  8. ^ Gussow, Mel (March 11, 1984). "Theater: Mirror Rep, in a Revival of 'Rain'". Retrieved December 9, 2018 – via NYTimes.com.
  9. ^ Rodgers, D. (2016, September 14). Dickinson Brought to Life by Schaffel. Hardwick Gazette
  10. ^ Paller, Rebecca (January 16, 2009). "Julie Harris... A Bit of Magic on a Cold Winter's Day". Paley Center for Media. Archived from the original on June 15, 2010. Retrieved November 15, 2012.
  11. ^ a b Weil, Martin (August 24, 2013). "Tony-Winning Actress Julie Harris Dies at 87". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 25, 2013.
  12. ^ Rizzo, Frank (August 28, 2008). "Julie Harris Returns To Stage". Hartford Courant. Retrieved November 15, 2012.
  13. ^ "WHAT Board". Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater. Archived from the original on November 7, 2012. Retrieved November 15, 2012.
  14. ^ Rose, Judy (November 4, 2012). "Michigan House Envy: Windmill Pointe palace offers medieval charm". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved November 15, 2012.
  15. ^ Jon Caswell (July–August 2007). "The Belle of Aphasia". Stroke Connection. nxtbook.com. Retrieved November 15, 2012.
  16. ^ Kennedy, Mark (August 24, 2013). "Julie Harris, Broadway Star, Dies at 87". Associated Press. Archived from the original on August 25, 2013. Retrieved August 25, 2013.
  17. ^ Brantley, Ben (August 25, 2013). "Luminous Julie Harris, Close Up and Afar". The New York Times. Retrieved August 30, 2013.
  18. ^ Baldwin, Alec (August 30, 2013). "A Public Farewell to Julie Harris". Huffington Post. Retrieved August 30, 2013.
  19. ^ Wilson, Scott (August 19, 2016). "Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed". McFarland. Retrieved December 9, 2018 – via Google Books.
  20. ^ Snetiker, Marc (August 27, 2013). "Broadway Theaters to Dim Lights in Honor of Stage Legend Julie Harris". Broadway.com. Retrieved August 30, 2013.

Further reading[edit]

  • Young, Jordan R. (1989). Acting Solo: The Art of One-Person Shows. Beverly Hills: Past Times Publishing Co. Intro by Julie Harris.

External links[edit]