Christopher Plummer, Alec Baldwin, Zoe Caldwell and More Remember Tony Winner Julie Harris

By Harry Haun
04 Dec 2013

Cherry Jones
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Julie was a big star when Rosemary arrived on Broadway in 1952, but they didn't become friends until 1965 when Julie was in Skyscraper at the Lunt-Fontanne, Rosemary was in the APA production of You Can't Take It With You at the Lyceum, and Barbara Harris was in On a Clear Day You Can See Forever at the Hellinger.

All that was wrapped up in a nice, neat little bow by Hollywood Reporter's Radie Harris, who claimed kin. "Dear, darling Radie!" sighed Rosemary. "I remember telling Julie she'd always been my lodestar, and she asked me what that was. I said the definition is someone or something that leads or guides — or that serves as an inspiration or model through life. Julie was always my lodestar.'

Up next, Cherry Jones hitched a ride on those sentiments: "Julie is my primary guiding star too, and I know she is for so many of us in this room today. Lodestars of the soul never die, they never go away, they never fade. I feel Julie's very much alive within us all this afternoon, encouraging us — in her quiet and, at times, ferocious way — to respect one another, to care for one another, to cooperate with one another and to proceed in our lives representing her faith that love is all. Amen, Julie!"

Jones then read a trio of letters written after the 2001 stroke that substantially ended Julie's career. The authors themselves have since passed away, and Jones wanted "to imagine that, at this very moment, Julie is with these three gentlemen in some great celestial wing at the right of the stage, about to go on."

The first letter was from Noel Taylor, who would subsequently do 35 productions with Julie. He recalled meeting her while doing his first Broadway show, Eva Le Gallienne's 1947 Alice in Wonderland, and having to fit her into the costume of the second White Rabbit. "I didn't even know there was a second white rabbit," the costume design groused, "but she was small, and it was a difficult decision to decide the height of her ears. When she left for the stage, I said to my assistant, 'What a lovely gentle soul, but she'll never amount to anything. She has no drive.'"

In less than three years, Julie Harris was spelled out in lights above the title of I Am a Camera, and Taylor was eating those words. "I've realized, if I only had one tenth of the drive of that little white rabbit, I might be better off than I am." He followed that with a sweet P.S. "And it makes me happy to know I didn't get the ears a bit too big."

"Dear Julie," began the next, from production stage manager Mitch Erickson. "Can I compare thee to a summer's day. I suppose so, sure, but I'd rather compare you to the best people I've worked with: Maggie Smith, Deborah Kerr, Uta Hagen, Ruth Gordon, Jason Robards, Colleen Dewhurst, Ian McKellen, Eileen Atkins, Nigel Hawthorne, Woody Allen, Albert Finney, Judith Anderson — it's a long list. You are more gifted, more adorable, more fun and a better shopper than any of them. However, if Uta, Colleen or Maggie come near, burn this! You know how they get."

The loveliest was last, from Charles Durning, who co-starred with her in her final Broadway appearance, which won her her last (and still-unprecedented tenth) Tony nomination: "First, let me say I love you, Julie. There is everybody else, and then there is you. You make music, and that is made when your heart comes together with your intellect. Nobody does it better than you do. You are light held together by air. Your kind of acting exists in the same way moonlight exists. It's out there all right — but distant and unreachable from most of us. I am fortunate in having done three plays with you. You have taught me much. After having worked with you and watching your remarkable talent, I find there is only one thing left for me: Suicide.