Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Some Julie Harris Trivia

She was a Broadway, film and TV artist.  A great artist.  Julie Harris passed away last weekend at age 87.  She left us with a wonderful body of work to learn from and enjoy.
I never met her nor did I have the privilege to see her onstage ever.  But I did watch her on television many times.  In fact, I first connected to her when I was an teetering on the brink of my teen years in South Central L.A.  Back then, local KHJ TV/Channel 9, was the independent station to turn on for Warner Bros. classics, independent films and other releases that would fall in the category of "art films."  When you were a kid at that age, you felt like your skin was a container of insecure, awkward feelings that no one was taking seriously.  You were a misfit.  How could I not connect to the characters Julie Harris played in Elia Kazan's East of Eden with James Dean...
...The Haunting, with its combination of clairvoyance and Claire Bloom...
....and The Member of the Wedding with Ethel Waters and little Brandon DeWilde?
I understood her inner dissonance.  Adults could too.  Why?  I don't think Julie Harris was capable of a dishonest moment in her craft.  The truth just broke through like the sun.  We all could connect to the humanity of her performances -- whether she played those sweet characters or a seedy one like her decayed hipster in the Paul Newman detective mystery, Harper (1966).

If I was an entertainment contributor for a network news program like CBS Sunday Morning or Good Morning America on ABC, I'd like to interview 2-time Best Actress Oscar winner Sally Field about her memories of working with Julie Harris.

After her ABC sitcom work as Gidget and The Flying Nun,  Field stretched herself dramatically in ABC made-for-TV movies.  One of my favorites is a yuletide thriller she made in 1972.
Could it kill you to visit relatives at Christmastime?  If might if you're one of the squabbling sisters in Home for the Holidays.  A mean dad dies and his surviving daughters seem to be doomed.  The youngest daughter was played by Sally Field.

The stars in Home for the Holidays were Oscar-nominated Hollywood veterans Walter Brennan, Eleanor Parker and Julie Harris.  Future Oscar nominee Sally Field shared screen time with two women who played Sally Bowles.  The first was Julie Harris.

Harris played Bowles on Broadway and in the 1955 screen adaptation of I Am a Camera.
Field also worked with Jill Haworth, the first Sally Bowles when Broadway musicalized the I Am a Camera material and called it Cabaret.

About Julie Harris and Sally Field -- both actress would have the role of Mrs. Abraham Lincoln in their credits one day.

Harris' First Lady was on stage and on national television.  Field's was on film in Lincoln.

Home for the Holidays starring Julie Harris, Eleanor Parker, Jessica Walter, Jill Haworth, Walter Brennan and young Sally Field was a wickedly fun murder mystery.  It was written by Joseph Stefano, the writer who gave us one of the best, most memorable, most famous and most influential screenplays that was never nominated for an Oscar.

He also wrote to classic screenplay to Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho.

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