Along with Katharine Cornell, Rosemary Harris, Helen Hayes, Jessica Tandy and Laurette Taylor, Julie Harris was one of a handful of actresses who became as much a part of the American theater as greasepaint and follow spots. Harris died on August 24 at her home in West Chatham, Mass. She was 87.
During her long career, she played an epic historical figure (The Lark), a reclusive poetess (The Belle of Amherst), a tragic First Lady (The Last of Mrs. Lincoln), the crotchety title character in Alfred Urhy's Pulitzer prize-winning Driving Miss Daisy and literally hundreds of other women, every one of them memorable simply because Julie Harris gave them life. She remains one of the most honored players in the history of the Tony Awards with ten nominations and six wins.
In a breakthrough performance, Harris created the role of Frankie Addams, a tomboyish 12-year-old who is determined to tag along on her beloved brother’s honeymoon in the stage adaptation of Carson McCuller’s The Member of the Wedding. She played Frankie again in Fred Zinnemann’s 1952 film version of the play, along with fellow cast members Ethel Waters and Brandon De Wilde. Elia Kazan credited Harris’ calming influence on the mercurial James Dean as one of the major factors that made the movie version of John Steinbeck’s East of Eden such a pleasure for him to direct. (READ MORE)