Julie Harris Playwriting Award
Julie Harris - December 2, 1925 to August 24, 2013
Julie Harris is widely regarded as one of the most respected and honored stage actresses in America. Playwrights have created roles for her, critics have lavished praise on her, audiences have adored her in the theater, in the movies, and on television. For decades, her awards for her stage performances in I Am a Camera (1952), The Lark (1956), Forty Carats (1969), The Last of Mrs. Lincoln (1973), and The Belle of Amherst (1977) gave her the distinction of winning more Tony Awards than any other performer. Her 10 nominations were likewise unequalled. In 2002, she was honored with yet another Tony, The Lifetime Achievement Award, securing her place in the record books for decades to come.
Most tellingly, her greatest fans have been the playwrights and directors who have witnessed the miracle of a Julie Harris performance from the inside out. Harold Clurman, who directed her breakthrough performance in the stage version of The Member of the Wedding, described her as “a nun whose church is the stage.” Elia Kazan, her director on the film East of Eden, called her “an angel…kind and patient and everlastingly sympathetic.” James Prideaux, who wrote The Last of Mrs. Lincoln for her, called her “a bride of the theater.” The playwright Donald Freed, author of The Countess, in which she portrayed Tolstoy’s wife, said: “No matter what character she plays, there is something transcendent about her performance. And no matter how transcendent, there is also something poignantly human.”
Indeed for more than half a century, Julie Harris has been recognized as the soul of the American theater. She is that rare artist who devoted her life to the stage—on Broadway and off—and in theaters, large and small, throughout the nation. She said that she knew she would do so from the very beginning: “The Stage! I knew it was where I wanted to be. I loved it all. It became this great source of nourishment, spiritual nourishment, for me. I found everything in life there.”