skip navigation
Barbara Harris

Barbara Harris

| VIEW ALL

TCM Messageboards
Post your comments here
ADD YOUR COMMENT>

share:

TCM Archive Materials VIEW ALL ARCHIVES (2)

Recent DVDs

Banjo ... When young Pat Warren's (Sharyn Moffett) father dies, she moves from their farm... more info $18.95was $21.99 Buy Now

Mixed Company ... Joseph Bologna portrays a racially prejudiced basketball coach who is persuaded... more info $11.45was $19.98 Buy Now

The Manchu Eagle Murder Caper... A chicken hatchery owner and a novice private eye solve the arrow murder of... more info $11.45was $19.95 Buy Now

Second Hand Hearts ... Barbara Harris (Nashville) cons Robert Blake (Baretta) into a marriage of... more info $14.95was $17.99 Buy Now

The North Avenue Irregulars ... When organized crime hits their town, a reverend and a group of unusual ladies... more info $10.25was $14.99 Buy Now

Freaky Friday (1976) ... Annabel isn't herself this morning - and neither is her mother. They've become... more info $5.97was $6.25 Buy Now

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

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Barbara Harris was an American actress who was renowned for her work in film and on the stage, and helped break ground on what would become improvisational theater during a career that lasted for nearly four decades. Born on July 25, 1935 in Evanston, IL, Harris attended Wilbur Wright College before beginning her stage career at the Playwrights Theater in Chicago. She found herself in good company, with fellow up and coming players including Ed Asner, Elaine May, and Mike Nichols. Harris was also a member of the Compass Players, who were the U.S.'s first ongoing improvisational theatre troupe, under the direction of Paul Sills, whom she had married in 1955. Ironically, the Compass Players and their marriage followed the same trajectory: by 1958, both had flamed out. However, despite their divorce, Sills continued to work with Harris professionally, inviting her to join a new improv theater he had started, dubbed The Second City, in 1959. When the company brought their show to Broadway in 1961, in the form of a revue entitled "From the Second City," it was a smashing success, earning Harris her first Tony Award nomination. That same year, she made her TV debut in an episode of "Alfred Hitchcock...

Barbara Harris was an American actress who was renowned for her work in film and on the stage, and helped break ground on what would become improvisational theater during a career that lasted for nearly four decades. Born on July 25, 1935 in Evanston, IL, Harris attended Wilbur Wright College before beginning her stage career at the Playwrights Theater in Chicago. She found herself in good company, with fellow up and coming players including Ed Asner, Elaine May, and Mike Nichols. Harris was also a member of the Compass Players, who were the U.S.'s first ongoing improvisational theatre troupe, under the direction of Paul Sills, whom she had married in 1955. Ironically, the Compass Players and their marriage followed the same trajectory: by 1958, both had flamed out. However, despite their divorce, Sills continued to work with Harris professionally, inviting her to join a new improv theater he had started, dubbed The Second City, in 1959. When the company brought their show to Broadway in 1961, in the form of a revue entitled "From the Second City," it was a smashing success, earning Harris her first Tony Award nomination. That same year, she made her TV debut in an episode of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" (CBS/NBC, 1955-1962). Harris earned a second Tony nomination for her role in the 1965 production of "On a Clear Day You Can See Forever," while also making her film debut in "A Thousand Clowns" (1965). The third time would prove to be the charm for Harris, who finally won a Tony for her performance in 1966's "The Apple Tree." However, she found herself wanting new challenges, and announced that she was retiring from the stage following her performance in 1970's "Mahogany." Harris began her new film career with a bang, earning an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her work in the dark comedy "Who Is Harry Kellerman and Why Is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me?" (1971). She soon found herself in demand with some of Hollywood's biggest directors, next appearing in Robert Altman's sprawling masterpiece "Nashville" (1975), in which she played Albuquerque, a country singer who hides a calculating and opportunistic drive for fame underneath a ditzy visage. Unfortunately, Harris and Altman clashed during the film's chaotic production, and they never worked together again. Harris followed up that experience by reuniting with Alfred Hitchcock just in time to appear in his final film, "Family Plot" (1976), turning in a performance as a bogus spiritualist that wowed critics. That same year, Harris starred alongside Jodie Foster in the family body-swap classic "Freaky Friday" (1976). Unfortunately, Harris's good luck was about to run out. On paper, starring in Hal Ashby's follow-up to the acclaimed and successful "Being There" (1979), seemed like a no-brainer. However, the film that resulted, "Second-Hand Hearts" (1981), was a career killer. The film, in which Harris starred as a widowed waitress and aspiring singer, was savaged by critics and bombed at the box office. Harris would not appear in another film for five years, when she played Kathleen Turner's mother in "Peggy Sue Got Married" (1986) for Francis Ford Coppola, followed by a co-starring role with cult actress Michelle Meyrink of "Valley Girl" (1983) and "Real Genius" (1985) fame in the little-seen black comedy "Nice Girls Don't Explode" (1987). She then took on a supporting role in the comedy "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" (1988), before wrapping up her acting career by appearing in the cult classic "Grosse Pointe Blank" (1997). Harris devoted the rest of her life to teaching, before she died of lung cancer on August 21, 2018. She was 83 years old.

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.
 Liberators, The (1987) Bill'S Mother
4.
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

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"
1963:
TV series debut, "Channing"; played student Sophie Kannakos
:
Co-starred in notorious Hal Ashby flop "Second-Hand Hearts"
1965:
Made film debut in "A Thousand Clowns"
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
1960:
Founding member of Chicago's Second City Players
1975:
Landed career-defining role as Albuquerque in Robert Altman's "Nashville"
1986:
Returned to the screen for "Peggy Sue Got Married"
1997:
Made final film appearance in "Grosse Pointe Blank"
:
Made Tony-nominated Broadway debut in "From the Second City"
:
Made TV debut on "Alfred Hitchcock Presents"
:
Began second Tony nominated performance inĀ  "On a Clear Day You Can See Forever"
:
Began Tony winning performance in "The Apple Tree"
:
Essayed final stage performance in "Mahogany"
:
Oscar-nominated for her performance in "Who Is Harry Kellerman and Why Is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me?"
:
Co-starred in Alfred Hitchcock's final film, "Family Plot"
:
Starred alongside Jodie Foster in family classic "Freaky Friday"
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.

Please support TCMDB by adding to this information.

Click here to contribute