Saturday, September 7, 2013

In Memoriam: Julie Harris 1925-2013

I'm late on this one, folks. My apologies, especially to Miss Harris, if by chance the Internet reaches the hereafter.

Actress. Five-time Tony Awards winner, meaning, if you want to see any of THOSE performances, you kind of had to have been there at the time. Fortunately, she did appear in a few movies as well: The Member of the Wedding. I Am a Camera. East of Eden. Requiem for a Heavyweight. The Haunting. Harper. Reflections in a Golden Eye. You're a Big Boy Now. Gorillas in the Mist.

A lot of things. It's imagination and a good voice...And sometimes it's the people, it's small or large. You know, it's everything. Everything.

--Julie Harris, when asked why she was so damn good at her craft.

Her voice was like rainfall. Her eyes connected directly to and channeling the depths of her powerful and tender heart. Her talent, a gift from God.

--Alec Baldwin (I've read and re-read that quote, and, for some reason, I can't quite imagine it coming out of Baldwin's mouth. Nevertheless, I do echo the sentiment--KJ)

In 1950, 24-year old Harris played a 12-year old tomboy in the Member of the Wedding on Broadway. Two years later, the now 26-year old actress played the same role in the movie version. With Ethel Waters and Brandon deWilde.

 A short time later, Harris played Sally Bowles in I Am a Camera, again both on stage and in the movies. The story later became musicalized as Cabaret.

East of Eden (1955) With James Dean

She got over her reluctance later in the movie. Whoosh!

"I doubt that Jimmy would have gotten through East of Eden except for an angel on our set. Her name was Julie Harris, and she was goodness itself with Dean, kind and patient and everlastingly sympathetic. She would adjust her performance to whatever the new kid did. Despite the fact that it had been made clear to me that [studio chief Jack] Warner, when he saw her first wardrobe test, wished I'd taken a "prettier" girl, I thought Julie beautiful: as a performer she found in each moment what was dearest and most moving....She helped Jimmy more than I did with any direction I gave him.

--Elia Kazan

In Requiem for a Heavyweight (1962), Harris played a mousy clerk in a temp agency who becomes absolutely turned-on when an ex-boxer (a puffy-faced, mushmouthed Anthony Quinn) walks into the room.

The Haunting (1964) Ever have one of those nights where you just can't fall asleep?





  1. What a beautiful homage to an amazing talent. It really shocked me to hear of her death, to me she just never aged. RIP Julie.

  2. It's that voice of hers that does it for me, Patricia. She had one of the all-time great movie voices (even if she was mostly a stage actress.)

  3. Like Patrica I was shocked to hear of her death. I should not be surprised but I am.
    I thought her beautiful in East Of Eden.
    What a lovely post today.

    cheers, parsnip

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  5. Parsnip, in a way, I'm glad you and Patricia are shocked by her death, as Julie Harris was never that big of a star (at least not in movies)