NEW YORK – Julie Harris, one of Broadway’s most honored performers whose roles ranged from the flamboyant Sally Bowles in “I Am a Camera” to the reclusive Emily Dickinson in “The Belle of Amherst,” died Saturday. She was 87.
Harris died at her West Chatham, Mass., home of congestive heart failure.
Harris won a record five Tony Awards for best actress in a play, displaying a virtuosity that enabled her to portray an astonishing gallery of women during a theater career that spanned almost 60 years and included such plays as “The Member of the Wedding” (1950), “The Lark” (1955), “Forty Carats” (1968) and “The Last of Mrs. Lincoln” (1972).
She was honored again with a sixth Tony, a special lifetime achievement award, in 2002. Only Angela Lansbury has neared her record, winning four Tonys in the best actress-musical category and one for best supporting actress in a play.
Harris had suffered a stroke in 2001 while she was in Chicago appearing in a production of Claudia Allen’s “Fossils.” She suffered another stroke in 2010.
Television viewers knew Harris as the free-spirited Lilimae Clements on the prime-time soap opera “Knots Landing.” In the movies, she was James Dean’s romantic co-star in “East of Eden” (1955), and had roles in such films as “Requiem for a Heavyweight” (1962), “The Haunting” (1963) and “Reflections in a Golden Eye” (1967).
Yet Harris’ biggest successes and most satisfying moments have been on stage. “The theater has been my church,” the actress once said. “I don’t hesitate to say that I found God in the theater.”