Recap: Joan van Ark, Hal Holbrook and More Honor Tony Winner Julie Harris with All-Star Memorial Celebration
Today, December 3rd at 12 noon, friends and colleagues gathered in celebration of Tony-winning actress Julie Harris at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre on 242 West 45th Street. Among those at the celebration were Zoe Caldwell, RoseMary Harris, Cherry Jones, Joan Van Ark, HAl Holbrook and Christopher Plummer.
Following the show, all of the speakers and hosts threw a lunch upstairs at Sardi's. Roger Friedman described the event on his Showbiz411 site, writing: "At one point the memorial could have gotten its own Tony award considering the murderer's row of actors who appeared one after another. van Ark told the story of how Harris, then the only female graduate of Yale Drama School, got the young actress admitted, making her the second female graduate of Yale Drama School. Years later by coincidence, Harris was hired to play van Ark's mother on 'Knots Landing.'"
Read the recap in full here.
Miss Harris, often called the first lady of the American theatre, set a record of ten Tony nominations and five Tony Award wins for Best Leading Actress in a play with a sixth Tony for Lifetime Achievement. In 1950, she amazed theatre audiences and critics alike when, at the age of 24, she played the 12 year-old Frankie Adams in Carson McCullers "The Member of the Wedding". Her name went above the title with her next play, John Van Druten's "I Am A Camera", and remained there through the next several decades. Her film work included "East of Eden" opposite James Dean, "Requiem for a Heavyweight" with Anthony Quinn, Mickey Rooney, and Jackie Gleason, "The Haunting", with Clare Bloom and "Reflections in a Golden Eye" with Brain Keith, Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando.
While she loved her film and television work, her heart was always in the theatre and few actors have been so admired both on and off the stage.
In 2001, she suffered a stroke, which compromised her ability to speak but she continued to do small roles in films and last appeared on stage in 2008. She died in her home on August 24th of this year from congestive heart failure but not before being honored in 2005 by the Kennedy center for her lifetime contribution to the arts in America.
Photo Credit: Walter McBride