BROADWAY TO DIM ITS LIGHT IN MEMORY OF LEGENDARY STAGE AND SCREEN ACTRESS JULIE HARRIS
The Broadway community mourns the loss of celebrated stage, screen and television actress Julie Harris, who passed away on Saturday at age 87. The marquees of Broadway theatres in New York will be dimmed in her memory tomorrow night, Wednesday, August 28th 2013 at exactly 7:45 p.m. for one minute.
Julie Harris was one of the most admired performers of her generation, widely acclaimed for her work on small screens and large ones, but most especially in the theatre where her career lasted more than six decades. She won five Tony Awardsâ, three Emmy Awards, a Grammy Award, and was nominated for an Academy Award. She was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 1994, a Special Tony Award in 2002, and in 2005 she was a Kennedy Center honoree.
She was the first person to win five Tony Awards for performance (Angela Lansbury and Audra McDonald have since won five each) and was nominated ten times, the most ever for a performer. Her Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre made a total of six Tony Awards.
"Julie Harris was an actor’s actor, universally admired and respected. There was always an innate truth in the characters she portrayed," said Charlotte St. Martin, Executive Director of The Broadway League. "She was a Broadway virtuoso who touched many lives throughout nearly six decades of extraordinary performances. Julie Harris was the first performer to win five Tony Awards, and later received a special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre. She was nominated ten times, the most ever for a performer. Seeing her on stage was always the kind of experience that takes your breath away in the most subtle and satisfying way. Generations of fans discovered her on Broadway and in various mediums, and our thoughts are with them, her friends, and her family."
The first of Ms. Harris’s five Tony Awards came for creating the role of Sally Bowles in I am a Camera in 1952, which playwright John van Druten adapted from Christopher Isherwood’s novel Goodbye to Berlin and later became the source material for the musical Cabaret. Her second came in 1956 for her performance as St. Joan in Jean Anouilh’s The Lark, a third in 1969 for Forty Carats, followed four years later for The Last of Mrs. Lincoln. She won her fifth Tony in 1977 for William Luce’s one-woman play The Belle of Amherst. She received five additional nominations, for her work in Marathon ’33, Lucifer’s Child, The Au Pair Man, a revival of The Gin Game, and the musical Skyscraper.
She made her Broadway debut in 1945 in It’s a Gift and went on to appear in more than 30 Broadway productions. She also toured North America in numerous plays including Lettice and Lovage, The Belle of Amherst, Driving Miss Daisy and The Gin Game.
Throughout her career, Ms. Harris was drawn to historical figures. Three of her Tony Awards came from portraying characters from real life. In 1955, she won her second Tony in The Lark, an adaptation by Lillian Hellman of Anouilh’s retelling of the martyrdom of Joan of Arc, leading a cast that included Christopher Plummer, Boris Karloff and Joseph Wiseman. In December 1972, she opened in The Last of Mrs. Lincoln, a play by James Prideaux. Ms. Harris portrayed the poet Emily Dickinson and more than a dozen other characters in The Belle of Amherst, a one-woman show written by William Luce that appeared on Broadway in 1976, followed by a national tour. The show was filmed for public television, and she received a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Recording for the audio recording of the play.
Her final two Broadway performances were in Tennessee Williams’s The Glass Menagerie, in which she played Amanda Wingfield in 1994; and opposite Charles Durning in D. L. Coburn’s The Gin Game three years later. She had previously starred alongside Durning in another two-person play, Hugh Leonard’s The Au Pair Man, in 1973, receiving Tony nominations both times.
Away from Broadway, she played Juliet at the Stratford Festival in Canada, Ophelia in the New York Shakespeare Festival’s Hamlet in Central Park and Blanche Dubois in A Streetcar Named Desire on Cape Cod, to list just a few of her many credits.
Ms. Harris’s screen debut came in 1952 when she repeated her Broadway success as teenage girl Frankie in Carson McCullers’s The Member of the Wedding, for which she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress. She repeated her Tony-winning stage performance as Sally Bowles in the film version of I Am a Camera (1955). That year she appeared in Elia Kazan’s film of the John Steinbeck novel East of Eden with James Dean. Other film credits include Requiem for a Heavyweight, Harper with Paul Newman, The Haunting, Reflections in a Golden Eye, The Bell Jar, Gorillas in the Mist, The Hiding Place, HouseSitter, and the screen version of The Last of Mrs. Lincoln.
Her TV appearances brought her 11 Emmy Award nominations. She won for James Costigan’s "Little Moon of Alban," a role she later reprised on Broadway; as Queen Victoria in "Victoria Regina"; and in 2000 for providing the voice of Susan B. Anthony in "Not for Ourselves Alone." Her longest and best known TV role was in the 1980s, playing Lilimae Clements on the CBS series "Knots Landing."
Other major TV roles included Nora in "A Doll’s House" and Eliza Doolittle in "Pygmalion," both on the Hallmark Hall of Fame; and adaptations of The Heiress and The Belle of Amherst.
Numerous TV credits include appearances on "Scarlett," "Secrets," "The Christmas Wife" with Jason Robards, "The Christmas Tree," "Ellen Foster," and guest spots on a variety of popular dramas, comedies and romances, including "Family Ties, "The Love Boat, "Columbo, "The Name of the Game," "Tarzan" and "Medical Center" and a remarkable number of westerns including "Rawhide," "Laredo," "Daniel Boone," "The Big Valley," "Bonanza," and "The Virginian."
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