Jed Harris

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This article is about Jed Harris the director. For Jet Harris the musician, see Jet Harris.

Jed Harris (born Jacob Hirsch Horowitz February 25, 1900 – November 15, 1979) was a renowned Austrian-American theater producer and director, and writer of film.

Personal history[edit]

Jed Harris was born in Lviv, Austria-Hungary, on February 25, 1900.

By the time he was 28, Harris had produced a record four consecutive Broadway hits, over the course of eighteen months.[1]

Harris was married three times, first to Anita Green (December 11, 1925–1929), then to Louise Platt (1939–1941) — with whom he collaborated on The Traitor and Spring Dance, and finally to Beatrice Allen (April 1, 1957 – December 1957). His romances included one with the American fashion designer Pauline Fairfax Potter, and he had a son, Jones, with renowned actress and playwright Ruth Gordon born in 1929. He also had a daughter, Abigail, with Louise Platt in 1943. He had a relationship with Henry Fonda's first wife Margaret Sullavan around 1932–4.

Harris died in New York City.

Career[edit]

Theatre[edit]

Jed Harris produced and directed 31 shows between 1925 and 1956. His productions garnered 7 awards, including a Tony award and Pulitzer Prize for playwright Thornton Wilder. Harris directed four actors in award-winning roles in Child of Fortune, The Crucible, The Traitor, The Heiress, and Our Town.

Harris was inducted, posthumously, into the American Theatre Hall of Fame in 1981.[2] Harris was known for being particularly hard to work with, as depicted in many famous satires of his character.

According to historian Louis Botto, the playwright and director George S. Kaufman (who worked with Harris on both The Front Page and The Royal Family) hated him and once said when he died, he wanted to be cremated and have somebody throw his ashes in Jed Harris's face."[citation needed] Laurence Olivier called him "the most loathsome man I'd ever met".[3]

However loathed he may have been in the theatrical community, Jed Harris directed and produced such luminaries as Leo G. Carroll, Laurence Olivier, Lillian Gish, Basil Rathbone, Elaine Stritch, Ruth Gordon, Walter Huston, Osgood Perkins (father of Anthony Perkins), and Katharine Hepburn.

Satires[edit]

Harris was so vigorously disliked that he inspired the following satires of his character:


Theatrical history[4][edit]

Year Title Position Run
1956 Child of Fortune Director/Producer Nov 13, 1956 - Dec 1, 1956
1953 The Crucible Director Jan 22, 1953 - Jul 11, 1953
1949 The Traitor Producer/Director Mar 31, 1949 - May 28, 1949
1948 Red Gloves Director Dec 4, 1948 - Mar 12, 1949
1947 The Heiress Director Sep 29, 1947 - Sep 18, 1948
1946 Loco Producer/Director Oct 16, 1946 - Nov 16, 1946
Apple of His Eye Producer/Director Feb 5, 1946 - May 18, 1946
1945 One-Man Show Producer/Director Feb 8, 1945 - Mar 10, 1945
1943 The World's Full of Girls Producer Dec 6, 1943 - Dec 12, 1943
Dark Eyes Producer/Director Jan 14, 1943 - Jul 31, 1943
1938 Our Town Producer/Director Feb 4, 1938 - Nov 1938
1937 A Doll's House Producer/Director Dec 27, 1937 - May 1938
1936 Spring Dance Producer/Director Aug 25, 1936 - Sep 1936
1935 Life's Too Short Producer/Director Sep 20, 1935 - Sep 1935
1933 The Lake Producer Dec 26, 1933 - Feb 1934
The Green Bay Tree Producer/Director Oct 20, 1933 - Mar 1934
1932 The Fatal Alibi Producer Feb 8, 1932 - Mar 1, 1932
1931 Wonder Boy Producer/Director Oct 22, 1931 - Nov 1931
The Wiser They Are Producer Apr 6, 1931 - May 1931
1931 The Inspector General Producer Dec 23, 1930 - Dec 1930
Mr. Gilhooley Producer/Director Sep 30, 1930 - Oct 1930
Uncle Vanya Producer/Director Sep 22, 1930 - Oct 1930
Uncle Vanya Producer/Director Apr 15, 1930 - Jul 1930
1929 Serena Blandish Producer Jan 23, 1929 - Apr 1929
1928 The Front Page Producer Aug 14, 1928 - Apr 1929
1927 The Royal Family Producer Dec 28, 1927 - Oct 1928
Coquette Producer Nov 8, 1927 - Sep 1928
Spread Eagle Producer Apr 4, 1927 - Jun 1927
1926 Broadway Producer Sep 16, 1926 - Feb 11, 1928
Love 'em and Leave 'em Producer Feb 3, 1926 - Jun 1926
1925 Weak Sisters Producer Oct 13, 1925 - Nov 1925

Film[edit]

While many of his hit plays were translated for the silver screen, Jed Harris was hesitant to make the jump to working on films. His first foray into film was when a play he collaborated on, entitled Broadway, was adapted in 1929. However starting with the 1952 film The Light Touch, starring George Sanders, Harris wrote the story for a trio of films including Night People starring Gregory Peck and Buddy Ebsen, and Operation Mad Ball, starring Jack Lemmon, Dick York, and Mickey Rooney.[5]

Harris also appeared on The Dick Cavett Show on PBS.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Anecdote about Jed Harris
  2. ^ The New York Times, March 3, 1981 - 26 Elected to the Theater Hall of Fame
  3. ^ Margaret Gurowitz. "Me, drunk? Ha! You should see Buckingham!". Richard III Society, American Branch. Retrieved 8 July 2006. 
  4. ^ "IBDB.com". Jed Harris. Retrieved August 5, 2006. 
  5. ^ "IMDB.com". Jed Harris. Retrieved August 5, 2006. 

References[edit]

External links[edit]