Battle Escalates Over Estate of Award-Winning Actress Julie Harris

By Carey Purcell
08 Jan 2014

Julie Harris
Julie Harris

An ongoing battle over the estate of award-winning actress Julie Harris is taking place, according to the New York Post.

Harris, a five-time Tony winner, died Aug. 24 at age 87. Her numerous stage credits include I Am a Camera, The Lark, Forty Carats, The Last of Mrs. Lincoln and The Belle of Amherst. She received a Lifetime Achievement Tony Award in 2002.

An objection to Harris' will has been filed by Herbert Nass, a lawyer who represented Harris for many years until he was dismissed toward the end of her life, claiming she "was not of sound mind or memory" when leaving part of her fortune to her caretaker, Francesca Rubino.

A soap opera actress who goes by the stage name Francesca James, Rubino was named co-executor of Harris' estate, which sources say could be worth as much as $10 million; Rubino could earl commissions of up to $200,000. She also inherited $50,000 outright.



The majority of Harris' estate was left to her son Peter Gurian, who lived in a house his mother built for him on her estate in Cape Cod, but a codicil to the will stated: "In the event that... my son... physically assaults, threatens to assault, or otherwise harms, harasses, or intimidates myself or any of my friends... including Francesca R. Rubino... my trustees shall treat him as if he had predeceased me."

Rubino took out a harassment prevention order that barred Gurian from entering Harris' house three years ago. Harris' longtime housekeeper Kathryn Bowden was fired and banned from entering the property, and her gardener was also fired.

The Post reports that Bowden was stopped by a policeman when driving to Harris' house and served with a letter from attorney Isaac Peres that read:

"It has recently come to Julie's attention that you have made several slanderous statements about another member of the team [Rubino]. These statements upset Julie a great deal... as a result, she no longer wishes to employ you. In addition you are no longer welcome on the property... any entry onto the property will be treated as a trespass."

Nass filed an objection to the will in December 2013 with the probate court in Barnstable, MA, stating the will and codicil "were procured by fraud and undue influence practiced upon the decedent" by Rubino and Peres.

A pre-trial hearing has been scheduled for Feb. 19 in Barnstable, MA.