"Rise with the lark, and with the lark to bed".
Stuff like this always happens to me. Be bedridden for a day or so, and someone like Julie Harris is taken up into Heaven.
Oh well . . .
I understand that people have a tendency to die. But my unconscious holds a small list of people that I feel (or felt) would live forever, or at least manage to outlive me (which, I guess, comes to the same thing). My little conceit took a severe beating last year, however, when both Dick Clark and Andy Griffith passed away.
And now Julie Harris is gone. An actor who was, for Yours Truly, always there. One of my earliest memories of television was a "Hallmark Hall of Fame" re-run of Jean Anouilh's "The Lark", with the then 32-year-old Harris as Joan of Arc.
Classic drama. That's how the world remembers Julie Harris. They talk about "East of Eden", "Requiem for a Heavyweight", "The Haunting". And yes, I enjoy a good dramatic turn as much as the next person. 1976 was a particularly magic year for me because Harris was on television in two fine performances: as Emily Dickinson in "The Belle of Amherst" (I discovered Dickinson through Harris), and in the title role of "The Last of Mrs. Lincoln". Up until then I confess I only calmly admired her. With "The Belle of Amherst" and "The Last of Mrs. Lincoln" the calm admiration grew into deep worship.
(She also impressed me very much with her voice work in Ken Burns' "The Civil War". Harris read the role of Mary Chestnut: perhaps one of the most depressing people to ever come out of Western civilization . . . no mean feat given the times and circumstances.)
Long time readers of these little diatribes (you know who you are) have probably surmised that Julie Harris would have eventually gained fondness in my eyes because of her meeting perhaps the highest qualification I feel an actor should possess. Given a role . . . any role . . . Harris wouldn't sniff or complain of its pedigree but, rather, set her shoulders and tackle it with every ounce of energy. One moment Joan of Arc on Broadway, the next moment an appearance on "The Love Boat". Never a small role because Harris was, above all, no small actor.
I know of Harris' work in "East of Eden" and "The Hiding Place" and other memorable performances. But I tend to gravitate more towards her as Miss Thing in "You're a Big Boy Now" and her appearances in television episodes of "Rawhide", "Garrison's Gorillas" and "Backstairs at the White House". And of course, as Mrs. Lincoln and Miss Dickinson. She worked so hard and presented us with so much to choose from. Take her as you will, she didn't leave us lonely. Not much.