Celebrating the Late Julie Harris

News   Celebrating the Late Julie Harris
 
Julie Harris, born on Dec. 2, 1925, was a towering figure of the American theatre in the decades following World War II. She created several iconic stage roles — collecting five Tony Awards along the way. Playbill.com celebrates this gifted actress with a look back at some of her famed stage performances.

Ms. Harris' theatrical career lasted more than six decades. In addition to her Tony Awards, she also received three Emmy Awards, a Grammy Award and an Academy Award nomination. 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.

Miss Harris died Aug. 24 in West Chatham, MA. The cause was congestive heart failure. She was 87.

Though she had a handful of significant film parts — including a lead in "East of Eden," in which she played opposite James Dean, and "A Member of the Wedding," where she repeated her stage triumph, and was nominated for an Oscar — Harris was nearly wholly a creature of the stage, the last of a breed that once included Helen Hayes, Jessica Tandy and Katharine Cornell. She worked tirelessly, and, even late in life, toured with her shows — something few actresses of her stature rarely did. Director-writer Harold Clurman, who directed her, captured both her unglamorous persona as well as her dedication to her art when he described her as "a nun whose church is the stage."

She won the Tony as lead actress in a play five times, a record that has stood for many years. Her wins were for John Van Druten's I Am a Camera, in which she was the first actress to create Christopher Isherwood's Sally Bowles on stage; The Lark, Jean Anouilh's rendition of the Joan of Arc story; the romantic comedy Forty Carats; The Last of Mrs. Lincoln, in which she played the title role; and The Belle of Amherst, where she portrayed poet Emily Dickinson. She was nominated five additional times. She also won a Lifetime Achievement Tony Award in 2002.

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