Broadway legend Julie Harris dies, aged 87

PUBLISHED : Monday, 26 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 26 August, 2013, 10:26am

Julie Harris  1925-2013

Julie Harris, the anti-diva who, in the guises of Joan of Arc, Mary Todd Lincoln, Emily Dickinson and many other characters both fictional and real, became the most decorated performer in the history of Broadway, died on Saturday at her home in Massachusetts. She was 87.

The cause of death was not immediately known, said Francesca James, a friend who was with her when she died. She had previously suffered two strokes.

For many audiences, Harris epitomised 19th century American poet Emily Dickinson in her performance in William Luce's 1976 one-woman play The Belle of Amherst.

She won the 1977 Tony Award for best actress in the play re-creating Dickinson's world by gossiping about neighbours, recounting daily household routines, and reciting the verse of the reclusive poet.

Harris "in a new twist on the old theatrical saw of an actor captivating an audience by reading the phone book brought down the house by carefully and guilelessly reciting the poet's recipe for a cake which included 19 eggs and five pounds of raisins", wrote theatre critic Louis Chaplin.

She won four other Tony Awards and received five more Tony nominations during her career in addition to a lifetime achievement Tony in 2002.

Harris also won three Emmys, the top US television honour, and was nominated for an Oscar for her role in the 1952 film The Member of the Wedding.

But she was best known for her stage work.

Reuters, The New York Times