Magazine article Variety

REMEMBERED: Julie Harris

Magazine article Variety

REMEMBERED: Julie Harris

Article excerpt

"Belle of Amherst" star set recordfor most Tonys, later starred in "Knot's Landing"

Stage actress Julie Harris, who held the record for the most Tonys won by a performer, died Aug. 24 at her West Chatham, Mass., home of congestive heart failure. She was 87.

Harris racked up six Tonys (including a special lifetime achievement Tony in 2002) in creating a series of indelible Broadway performances as Sally Bowles in John Van Druten's "I Am a Camera," an adaptation of Christopher Isherwood's "Berlin Stories"; Joan of Arc in Lillian Hellman's translation of Jean Anouilh's "The Lark"; a gay divorcee in "Forty Carats"; Mary Todd Lincoln in "The Last of Mrs. Lincoln"; and poet Emily Dickinson in the one-woman "The Belle of Amherst."

But those were only the highlights in a dazzling stage career consisting of more than 50 Broadway perfs in everything from Shakespearean drama to musicals. With a delicate yet iron-willed persona and a smoky, beautifully articulate voice, Harris also holds the record for most Tony nominations for a performer, 10.

Some of her finer performances, including as Mrs. Lincoln and Emily Dickinson, were preserved for television and brought her Emmy Awards (she won three and was nominated for many more). Yet the role that made her a name in American households was Lilimae Clements in the long-running evening soap "Knot's Landing" in the 1980s.

She enjoyed a brief flurry of popularity as a film actress in the 1952 bigscreen version of "The Member of the Wedding" (which brought her a sole Oscar nomination) and Elia Kazan's "East of Eden," but while she appeared in movies over the next 50-plus years, they were, with the exception of effective scarer "The Haunting" and "Requiem for a Heavyweight," rarely of the quality of her stage vehicles. …

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