Harriet Sansom Harris

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Harriet Sansom Harris
Born (1955-01-08) January 8, 1955 (age 67)
EducationJuilliard School (BFA)
Years active1977–present

Harriet Sansom Harris (born January 8, 1955), often credited as Harriet Harris, is an American actress known for her theater performances and for her portrayals of Bebe Glazer on Frasier and Felicia Tilman on Desperate Housewives.

Harris won a Tony Award in 2002 as a Featured Actress in a Musical for her performance in Thoroughly Modern Millie. In addition to television and theater, she has made various film appearances, including Memento, Addams Family Values, Nurse Betty and Phantom Thread.

Early life[edit]

Harris was born in Fort Worth, Texas, one of two daughters. On her mother's side, she is a descendant of one of the brothers of Marion Sansom, a 20th-century rancher and civic leader. Sansom Park is named after him. She began acting as a youngster, attending Arlington Heights High School. She attended Fort Worth Country Day School and graduated from there in 1973.[1] At age 17, she was accepted at the Juilliard School's Drama Division (1973–77, Group 6)[2] where she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.[3]

After graduation from Juilliard, she joined John Houseman's touring repertory company The Acting Company, where she stayed for three years. During this time, she performed in productions of Shakespeare's King Lear and Romeo and Juliet, Antigone, and Mother Courage and Her Children.[4]



Harris worked extensively on and Off-Broadway, including a 1989 performance at Second Stage Theatre in What a Man Weighs. One of her breakthrough performances was in the original cast of Paul Rudnick's Jeffrey, in which she was the sole female cast member.

In 1992, Harris made her Broadway debut in Four Baboons Adoring the Sun. That same year, she was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for her portrayal in the Off-Broadway play Bella, Belle of Byelorussia. In 1993, she received a second Drama Desk nomination for her performance in Jeffrey. She won both a Drama Desk and Tony Award in 2002 as a Featured Actress in a Musical for playing the role of Mrs. Meers in Thoroughly Modern Millie.

Since 2005, Harris has appeared in various stage productions across the United States. In summer 2006, she appeared as Vera Charles in the Kennedy Center's production of Mame opposite Christine Baranski in the title role. In early 2007, Harris appeared as Amanda Wingfield in the production of The Glass Menagerie at the Guthrie Theater. In summer 2007, she appeared on Broadway in the revival of the John Van Druten comedy Old Acquaintance as Mildred Watson Drake with Margaret Colin at the American Airlines Theatre.

In 2007, Harris returned to Broadway and joined the cast of the musical Cry-Baby, based on the John Waters film of the same name. The show previewed on Broadway at the Marquis Theatre on March 15, 2008 and opened on April 24. The production was nominated for Best Musical at the 2008 Tony Awards, and closed on June 22, 2008. She returned to Broadway as the Evil Stepmother in Cinderella in 2013. In 2015, Harris took on the role as the mother of the groom-to-be (who secretly wishes that her son was gay) in the musical comedy It Shoulda Been You, sparring with Tyne Daly who played the mother of the bride-to-be. Harris played the role of Fanny, head of the Cavendish family, in the musical The Royal Family of Broadway at the Barrington Stage Company, Massachusetts, from June to July of 2018.[5]


Harris's work in Jeffrey led to numerous television guest appearances, including a recurring role on the sitcom Frasier as Frasier's conniving agent Bebe Glazer from 1993 to 2004. Harris co-starred in several short-lived series, including The 5 Mrs. Buchanans, Union Square, The Beast, and It's All Relative, but played notable guest roles on multiple hit series, including Ghost Whisperer, Murphy Brown, Ally McBeal, Six Feet Under, Frasier and Ellen. Among them was her performance on The X-Files in the 1993 episode "Eve" as Dr. Sally Kendrick and her "Eve" clones. In 2006, she starred in the Sci-Fi Channel miniseries The Lost Room as Margaret Milne.[4]

In 1989, Harris appeared on the last episode of Highway to Heaven, playing Ruth Ann Kifer in the episode "Merry Christmas From Grandpa" - season 5, episode 13.

Harris played Martha Huber's sister Felicia Tilman on the ABC drama series Desperate Housewives in 2004. The narrative saw Felicia arrive on Wisteria Lane to discover who was behind her sister's murder. She soon came to the conclusion that Paul Young was responsible, but before she could act out her revenge, she was attacked by his son Zach Young. To finish the story-line, she returned for the second season in 2005, which followed Felicia as she planned her final acts of revenge against Paul. She departed at the end of the second series by faking her own murder, framing Paul, and sending him to prison. She returned to Desperate Housewives for the series' seventh season.[6] On playing the character Harris commented:

People do find Felicia evil. I think she's just determined. She's a zealot pursuing an objective that no-one wants her to pursue. And it makes her really eccentric. And even though a man she's pursuing is the one who committed murder, he's only considered creepy by people and Felicia is always considered evil. I think that's so interesting because he's really the bad person. She's just trying to get him caught. But she is extreme. I think she doesn't stop when others would. She keeps on, she keeps pursuing and I think that is a scary thing. She just keeps scraping away until she eventually gets what she wants. And if she doesn't get it one way, she'll go around and do it another way. She's completely unapologetic about it. She doesn't care what anybody else thinks.[7]

In 2018, Harris appeared as Madelyn in the American Horror Story: Apocalypse episode "Sojourn",[8] and as Adriana in the Dynasty episode "Queen of Cups". She appeared in the Netflix drama series Ratched.[9]



Year Title Role Notes
1993 Addams Family Values Ellen Buckman
1994 Quiz Show Enright's Secretary
1996 Romeo + Juliet Susan Santandiago
1998 The Jungle Book: Mowgli's Story Turtle / Rhesus (voice)
2000 Nurse Betty Ellen
2000 Memento Mrs. Jankis
2001 The One Nurse Besson
2005 Monster-in-Law Therapist
2009 Moonlight Serenade Angelica Webster
2011 Rampart Stacy Cranston
2014 Love Is Strange Honey
2017 Phantom Thread Barbara Rose
2021 Licorice Pizza Mary Grady


Year Title Role Notes
1983 Another World Cathy Harris Episode: "20 May 1983"
1989 Doctor Doctor Peggy Murtaugh Episode: "The Murtagh Conundrum"
1989 Highway to Heaven Ruth Ann Kifer Episode: "Merry Christmas from Granpa"
1991 Golden Years Francie Will 2 episodes
1991 Law & Order Sheila Episode: "The Troubles"
1992 Fool's Fire Lady Clairce Television movie
1992 Law & Order Mrs. Kenny Episode: "The Corporate Veil"
1993 Lifestories: Families in Crisis Cedall Episode: "Dead Drunk: The Kevin Tunell Story"
1993 The X-Files Sally Kendrick/Eves 6, 7, & 8 Episode: "Eve"
1993–2004 Frasier Bebe Glazer 11 episodes
1994 Murphy Brown Yvonne Bentley Episode: "The Deal of the Art"
1994 The George Carlin Show Anya Episode: "George Helps Sydney"
1994 Good Advice Marilyn Episode: "Brother, Can You Spare a Date?"
1994–1995 The 5 Mrs. Buchanans Vivian Buchanan 17 episodes
1995 The Crew Loretta Episode: "The Worst Noel"
1995–1996 Space: Above and Beyond Ambassador Diane Hayden 2 episodes
1996 Sisters Alam Klaus Episode: "A Sudden Change of Heart"
1996 Chicago Hope Mrs. Holgren Episode: "Women on the Verge"
1996 Ellen Claire Episode: "Looking Out for Number One"
1997 Friends 'Til the End Mrs. Boxer Television movie
1997 Millennium Maureen Murphy Episode: "Loin Like a Hunting Flame"
1997 Murder, She Wrote: South by Southwest Millie Ogden Television movie
1997 Caroline in the City Miss McGowan Episode: "Caroline and the Desperate Cat"
1997–1998 Union Square Suzanne Barkley 14 episodes
1998 The Practice Ellen Blake Episode: "The Pursuit of Dignity"
1998 Ally McBeal Cheryl Bonner Episode: "Happy Birthday, Baby"
1998 Maggie Sister Anastasia Episode: "If You Could See What I Hear"
1998 The Gregory Hines Show Gloria Episode: "Mug the One You're With"
1999–2000 Stark Raving Mad Audrey Radford 4 episodes
2000 Diagnosis: Murder Marisa Parkhurst Episode: "Too Many Cooks"
2000 Family Law Lois Nelson Episode: "A Mother's Son"
2000 God, the Devil and Bob Martha Stewart (voice) Episode: "The Devil's Birthday"
2000 Love & Money Kiki Farrington 2 episodes
2001 The Lot Libby Wilson 3 episodes
2001 The Beast Mrs. Sweeney 6 episodes
2002 Six Feet Under Catherine Collins 2 episodes
2002 Bram & Alice Margaret O'Connor Episode: "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore"
2003–2004 It's All Relative Audrey O'Neil 22 episodes
2004 Quintuplets Ms. Hentschel Episode: "Shakespeare in Lust"
2004 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Eva Episode: "What's Eating Gilbert Grissom?"
2005 Strong Medicine Governor Barbara Curtis Episode: "It Takes a Clinic"
2005 Sex, Love & Secrets Dulah Episode: "Danger"
Desperate Housewives Felicia Tilman 28 episodes
2006 Help Me Help You Dave's Mom Episode: "Pink Freud"
2006 Ghost Whisperer Marilyn Mandeville Episode: "A Grave Matter"
2006 The Lost Room Margaret Milne 2 episodes
2010 American Dad! Mrs. Reagan (voice) Episode: "Return of the Bling"
2011 Shake It Up Dr. Pepper Episode: "Shrink It Up"
2012 Electric City (voice) 9 episodes
2012 Robot and Monster Bea Holder (voice) Episode: "Litterbug/Model Citizen"
2014 Submissions Only Theresa Amsworth 2 episodes
2014 Wilfred Lonnie Goldsmith 3 episodes
2016 Her Last Will Dina Cotton Television movie
2016 Supergirl Sinead Episode: "Worlds Finest"
2018 Dynasty Adriana Episode: "Queen of Cups"
2018 American Horror Story: Apocalypse Madelyn Episode: "Sojourn"
2020 Hollywood Eleanor Roosevelt Episode: "(Screen) Tests"
2020 Ratched Ingrid 2 episodes
2020 Atlantic Crossing Eleanor Roosevelt 8 episodes
2022 Hacks Susan Episode: "Retired"

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Work Result Ref.
1992 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play Bella, Belle of Byelorussia Nominated [10]
1993 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play Jeffrey Nominated [10]
2002 Tony Award Best Featured Actress in a Musical Thoroughly Modern Millie Won [11]
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Featured Actress In A Musical Won [12]
2008 Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding Featured Actress In A Musical Cry-Baby Nominated [13]
2017 Drama League Award Distinguished Performance The Roads to Home Nominated [14]
2018 Drama League Award Distinguished Performance The Low Road Nominated [15]
Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play Nominated [16]
2022 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series Hacks Pending [17]


  1. ^ Fort Worth Country Day Yearbook "Flight" 1971, 1972, 1973.
  2. ^ "Alumni News". The Juilliard School. September 2007. Archived from the original on 2011-11-11.
  3. ^ "Harriet Sansom Harris: Mrs. Sweeny on The Beast". WCHS-TV. Archived from the original on December 27, 2010. Retrieved April 2, 2012.
  4. ^ a b "Harriet Harris profile". filmreference.com. 2010. Retrieved August 11, 2010.
  5. ^ The Royal Family of Broadway barringtonstageco.org, retrieved June 5, 2018
  6. ^ Keck, William (June 30, 2010). "Keck's Exclusives: Harriet Sansom Harris to Join Mark Moses on Desperate Housewives". TV Guide. Retrieved November 13, 2018.
  7. ^ Shulman, Randy (June 8, 2006). "Harriet Harris: Stage and TV Actress Discusses Role in Mame and Frasier". Retrieved November 13, 2018 – via MetroWeekly.com.
  8. ^ "Harriet Sansom Harris play Madelyn, a Satan worshipper". PopBuzz. Retrieved January 15, 2019.
  9. ^ Swift, Andy (January 14, 2019). "Ratched: Sharon Stone, Cynthia Nixon, Finn Wittrock and More Join the Cast of Ryan Murphy's Cuckoo's Nest Prequel". TVLine. Retrieved January 14, 2019.
  10. ^ a b "Harriet Harris – Broadway Cast & Staff | IBDB". www.ibdb.com. Retrieved 2021-05-02.
  11. ^ "The Tony Award Nominations". www.tonyawards.com. Retrieved 2021-05-02.
  12. ^ McKinley, Jesse (2002-05-20). "'Modern Millie' Leads Drama Desk Awards". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-05-02.
  13. ^ "South Pacific Scores in Outer Critics Circle Awards". Observer. 2008-05-12. Retrieved 2021-05-02.
  14. ^ "Drama League Awards 2017: And the Winners are..." New York Theater Guide. 2017-10-19. Retrieved 2021-05-02.
  15. ^ "2018 Drama League Awards: The Band's Visit, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child & More Score Nominations". Broadway.com. Retrieved 2021-05-02.
  16. ^ "SpongeBob SquarePants, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, My Fair Lady & More Win 2018 Outer Critics Circle Awards". Broadway.com. Retrieved 2021-05-02.
  17. ^ "Outstanding Guest Actress In A Comedy Series Nominees / Winners 2022". Television Academy. Retrieved 2022-07-12.

External links[edit]