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Barbara Harris

Barbara Harris

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Also Known As: Sandra Markowitz Died:
Born: July 25, 1935 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Evanston, Illinois, USA Profession: actor, theater director

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

This charming stage-trained comedy specialist had an intermittent but once beguiling screen career dating back to the mid-1960s. Long a critic's darling, Harris convinces as scatterbrained characters with endearing child-like qualities. This aptitude made her, for a time, something of a thinking man's Goldie Hawn. Harris made her film debut as social worker Sandra Markowitz (her real name) in the feature version of Herb Gardner's play "A Thousand Clowns" (1966). Her performances often garnered far better notices than the films that framed them. Harris' reprisal of her off-Broadway role as what VARIETY called a "nymphet chippie" in "Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mamma's Hung You in the Closet and I'm Feelin' So Sad" (1967) was deemed the film's only saving grace in some circles. As a late arriving love interest of discontented rock star Dustin Hoffman in "Who Is Harry Kellerman and Why Is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me?" (1971), Harris fared better than the star and received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her efforts. British culture mag TIME OUT deemed the "delightful" Harris "wasted" as the married old flame of lecherous film producer Walter Matthau in a segment of Neil Simon's...

This charming stage-trained comedy specialist had an intermittent but once beguiling screen career dating back to the mid-1960s. Long a critic's darling, Harris convinces as scatterbrained characters with endearing child-like qualities. This aptitude made her, for a time, something of a thinking man's Goldie Hawn. Harris made her film debut as social worker Sandra Markowitz (her real name) in the feature version of Herb Gardner's play "A Thousand Clowns" (1966). Her performances often garnered far better notices than the films that framed them. Harris' reprisal of her off-Broadway role as what VARIETY called a "nymphet chippie" in "Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mamma's Hung You in the Closet and I'm Feelin' So Sad" (1967) was deemed the film's only saving grace in some circles. As a late arriving love interest of discontented rock star Dustin Hoffman in "Who Is Harry Kellerman and Why Is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me?" (1971), Harris fared better than the star and received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her efforts. British culture mag TIME OUT deemed the "delightful" Harris "wasted" as the married old flame of lecherous film producer Walter Matthau in a segment of Neil Simon's "Plaza Suite" (1971), but she fared well opposite a cranky Jack Lemmon in the James Thurber-inspired "The War Between Men and Women" (1972).

A founding member of Chicago's celebrated Second City Players in 1960, Harris came with them to appear in "From Second City" on the NY stage. Moving to NYC she established a positive reputation on and off-Broadway before alternating between stage and screen. Harris racked up three Tony nominations, including one for her delightful turn as the daffy heroine of "On a Clear Day You Can See Forever" (1966). She won the 1967 Best Actress in a Musical Play Tony for "The Apple Tree", in which she played multiple roles opposite Alan Alda and Larry Blyden. Two of her most noteworthy feature credits were in memorable 70s films from divergent auteurs Robert Altman and Alfred Hitchcock: in "Nashville" (1975), Harris was Albuquerque, a housewife whose dream of becoming a country-Western singing star seemingly comes true after an unexpected tragedy; in "Family Plot" (1976), she was a phony but basically benign psychic. Hollywood was less kind for the remainder of the decade.

Harris struggled gamely in the Disney comedies "Freaky Friday" (1976) and "The North Avenue Irregulars" (1979) and won some excellent notices as the frustrated wife of a senator (Alan Alda) in "The Seduction of Joe Tynan" (1979) but by then her star had decisively fallen.

Harris all but disappeared in the 80s, surfacing briefly in Hal Ashby's disastrous "Second-Hand Hearts" (1980), where even her performance was savaged by reviewers; a bit as Kathleen Turner's mom in Francis Coppola's time-traveling "Peggy Sue Got Married" (1986); and a small part as a wealthy traveler conned by a scheming Michael Caine in the comedy "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" (1988). Harris should not be confused with the young character actor of 80s film and TV with the same name.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Grosse Pointe Blank (1997) Mary Blank
2.
 Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988) Fanny Eubanks
3.
4.
 Liberators, The (1987) Bill'S Mother
5.
 Peggy Sue Got Married (1986) Evelyn Kelcher
6.
7.
8.
9.
 Movie Movie (1978) Trixie Lane ("Baxter'S Beauties Of 1933")
10.
 Family Plot (1976) Blanche
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Joined The Compass, an acting troupe
1960:
Founding member of Chicago's Second City Players
:
Performed in NYC with Second City in "From the Second City"
:
Moved to NYC
1962:
First NY production, "Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mama's Hung You in the Closet and I'm Feeling So Sad"; Harris won Theatre World Award
:
TV series debut, "Channing"; played student Sophie Kannakos
1965:
Feature acting debut, "A Thousand Clowns", playing social worker Sandra Markowitz (Harris's real name)
1967:
Reprised the role of Rosalie for the film version of "Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mama's Hung You in the Closet and I'm Feeling So Sad"
1974:
First film in starring role, "Mixed Company"
1987:
TV-movie debut, "The Liberators"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

University of Chicago: Chicago , Illinois -
Wright Junior College: Chicago , Illinois -
Goodman School of Drama: Chicago , Illinois -

Notes

Harris was the recipient of the New York Drama Critics Award for most promising new actress in Variety polls in 1961 and 1962.

Harris has amassed a number of major award nominations including a 1962 Tony for Best Featured Or Supporting Actress in a Musical Play, a 1966 Tony for Outstanding Musical Actress and a 1971 Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for "Who Is Harry Kellerman, And Why Is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me?".

From a review of Jerry Schatzberg's "The Seduction of Joe Tynan" in Variety, August 15, 1979: " ... As Alda's intelligent and frustrated wife, Barbara Harris gives the performance of her career, one that certainly merits Academy Award consideration. With a few brief gestures and meaningful glances, Harris communicates a world of emotion, looking from inside the fishbowl, and hating what she sees. It's a breathtaking job of acting, fully in keeping with the pic's pace and rhythm."

Companions close complete companion listing

husband:
Paul Sills. Stage director, playwright.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Oscar Markowitz.
mother:
Natalie Markowitz.

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