Monday, 07.09.2018, 01:57 AM
By Ed Donovan
Although she was the top billing in East Of Eden Julie Harris role as Abra helped launch the career of James Dean. Julie says, “I was devastated by his death and had hopes of Jimmy meeting my new born son, it was a tragic loss.”
Julie was born to very wealthy parents in Groose Pointe, Michigan on December 2, 1925. She was introduced to the theater by her parents who regularly took her into Detroit on weekend afternoons to see Broadway plays. Julie says, “I knew I wanted to be an actress from the very beginning: "The Stage!' I knew it was where I wanted to be. I loved it all. It became this great source of nourishment, spiritual nourishment, for me. I found everything in life there.”
She wasn’t some little rich kid whose career was subsidized by mommy and daddy. In, fact, the rebellious Harris chose acting as a profession primarily because her family was dead set against her doing so. Trained at the Yale School of Drama and the Actors' Studio, the deceptively waiflike Harris made her first Broadway appearance in the 1945 production It's a Gift. Five years later she took Broadway by storm as 12-year-old Frankie Addams in Carson McCullers' A Member of the Wedding. Twenty-four years old at the time of the play's premiere, Harris was 27 when she re-created the role in the 1952 film version, but was still so touchingly believable as an awkward adolescent that she was nominated for an Academy Award.
Throughout the next two decades, Broadway was her playground and her home, and that astonishing versatility she displayed early on would become one of the hallmarks of her career. Rare is the actress who can triumph in one-woman shows, Restoration comedy, French farce, light comedy, historical drama and even a musical.
Her versatility and power have won her enormous critical acclaim. Outstanding among her many stage performances were leading roles in Macbeth (1948), Member of the Wedding (1950; film, 1952), I Am a Camera (1951; film, 1956), The Lark (1955), Forty Carats (1968), The Last of Mrs. Lincoln (1972), and The Gin Game (1997), as well as her one-woman performance as Emily Dickinson in The Belle of Amherst (1976).
Harris's films include East of Eden (1955), The Haunting (1963), The Bell Jar (1979), Gorillas in the Mist (1988), and The Dark Half (1993). Harris showed her considerable range as a kindly social worker in the film version of Rod Serling's teleplay Requiem for a Heavyweight (1962), a frustrated nightclub chanteuse in the Paul Newman private eye vehicle Harper (1966), and a troubled wife in Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967),as Sigourney Weaver's friend in Gorillas in the Mist (1988). Harris kept busy throughout the 1990s with supporting roles in several films, including Housesitter (1992) and the George A. Romero/Stephen King chiller The Dark Half (1993).
She is also a television performer; in addition to her long-running (1979–87) role on the series Knots Landing, she has had parts in many other productions, among them the Emmy-winning Little Moon of Alban (1958) and Victoria Regina (1962). Her five Tony awards for best actress are a record. She is the most honored performer in Tony history with ten nominations and five victories. In 2002 she was honored with yet another Tony Award-a Lifetime Achievement Award-securing her place in the record books for decades to come.
In 1999 Julie came to Central Florida to act in the Paul Sirmon film The First of May as Carlotta an elderly women who along with an eleven year old boy run away to join the circus as a way to escape their trapped past. The film also includes Charles Nelson Reilly, Mickey Rooney and Joe DiMaggio. The film received the Dove Foundation’s Seal of Approval, given only to films of the highest caliber that exhibit positive values. In May of 2001 Julie suffered a stroke but it didn’t stop her from what she loved most, acting
In 2004 Julie was invited back to Central Florida once again to be cast in The Way Back Home another Paul Sirmons film. A film written by local actor and writer Michael King as Michael Kane, the grandson of Jo McMillan (Julie Harris) who had a stroke. The fact that Julie had a stroke earlier on only enhanced her performance in this film. Julie Harris says, “ Ruby Dee and I have known each other for over fifty years and this was our first opportunity to work together in a film.” Ruby Dee was cast as Maude her former maid. Other actors in the film are Mina Badie, daughter of the director Reza Badie, rapper-actor LV Perry, Tessie Santiago, local actors Alan Lilly, Kristoffer Infante and Robert Scott
Julie Harris was honored at the 28th national celebration of the arts on December 4th as one of five recipients of the 2005 Kennedy Center Honors. The other recipients were singer Tony Bennett, dancer and teacher Suzanne Farrell, actor-director Robert Redford and singer Tina Turner.
Ed Donovan can be reached
at : firstname.lastname@example.org
Ed Donovan is a SAG-AFTRA
member since 1982. He is a Writer, Biographer, Producer, Director, Screenwriter
and the Editor of the Award winning online magazine, In Focus- Magazine. The
magazine is linked World Wide with writers and readers throughout the World.
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