Celebrated U.S. stage actress Julie Harris dies at age 87
Aug 24 (Reuters) - Julie Harris, the diminutive actress who won five Tony Awards for her stage performances and was also honored for her work on television, died on Saturday at age 87, a Massachusetts funeral home said.
Bill Collins, a funeral director at the Nickerson Funeral Home in Chatham, Massachusetts, confirmed the death of Harris who lived in nearby West Chatham.
For many audiences, Harris epitomized 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 recreating Dickinson's world by gossiping about neighbors, recounting daily household routines, and reciting the verse of the isolated, indiosyncratic and 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 her Black Cake which included 19 eggs and five pounds of raisins," wrote theater 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, U.S. television's highest honor, 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.
"At its best, the theater is a balm for hurt minds," Harris said in a 2000 interview. "It unites us as human beings, gives us a home, brings us together. You say: That's what it means to be alive, to be human, to feel your heart beat. That what it means. Theater does that." (Reporting by Kevin Murphy in Kansas City, Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis and Peter Cooney)