Jed Harris (born Jacob Hirsch Horowitz, February 25, 1900 – November 15, 1979) was an Austrian-American theater producer and director, and writer of film. He was born in Lviv (then in Austria-Hungary).
Jed Harris produced and directed 31 shows between 1925 and 1956. By age 28, he had produced a record four consecutive Broadway hits, over the course of eighteen months. Over the course of his career, his productions gained 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 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 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." Laurence Olivier called him "the most loathsome man I'd ever met."
However hated 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.
Film and TV
While many of his hit plays were translated into cinema releases, Jed Harris was hesitant to make the jump to working on films. His first foray into film was when a play he collaborated on, Broadway, was adapted in 1929. However, starting with The Light Touch (1952), starring George Sanders, Harris wrote the story for a trio of films continuing with Night People (1954), starring Gregory Peck and Buddy Ebsen, and Operation Mad Ball (1957), starring Jack Lemmon, Dick York, and Mickey Rooney.
Harris also appeared on The Dick Cavett Show on PBS.
Harris was so vigorously disliked that he inspired the following satires of his character:
- The 1932 play Twentieth Century became a huge scandal in the theater world, as it was clearly based on Harris.
- Laurence Olivier's disturbing portrayal of Shakespeare's Richard III is based on Harris's mannerisms, because according to Olivier, he wanted to make Richard III completely hateful, and Harris was one person he truly hated.
- The Big Bad Wolf's physical features in the Disney version of Three Little Pigs are based on Harris.
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 in 1929, Jones, with renowned actress and playwright Ruth Gordon. 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 – 1934.
Harris died in New York City on November 15, 1979.
|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|
- Anecdote about Jed Harris
- The New York Times, March 3, 1981 - 26 Elected to the Theater Hall of Fame
- Margaret Gurowitz. "Me, drunk? Ha! You should see Buckingham!". Richard III Society, American Branch. Retrieved 8 July 2006.
- "IMDB.com". Jed Harris. Retrieved August 5, 2006.
- "IBDB.com". Jed Harris. Retrieved August 5, 2006.