Jessica Harper

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Jessica Harper
Jessica Harper 1977 publicity shot.jpg
Harper in Little Women (1979)
Born (1949-10-10) October 10, 1949 (age 72)
Alma materSarah Lawrence College
Years active1971–present
(m. 1989)
RelativesJohn Rothman (brother-in-law)

Jessica Harper (born October 10, 1949)[1] is an American actress and singer. Harper began her feature film career with a starring role in Brian De Palma's Phantom of the Paradise (1974), My Favorite Year (1982), as well as a role in Inserts (1975). She is best known for her portrayal of Suzy Bannion, the protagonist of Dario Argento's cult classic Suspiria (1977),[2] and appeared in a supporting role in Luca Guadagnino's 2018 remake.[3]

Her other films include Stardust Memories (1980), Shock Treatment (1981) (the followup to The Rocky Horror Picture Show in which she replaced Susan Sarandon as Janet Weiss), Pennies from Heaven (1981), The Blue Iguana (1988), Safe (1995), and Minority Report (2002). In addition to acting, Harper is also an author of children's music and books.

Early life[edit]

Harper was born in Chicago, Illinois, the daughter of Eleanor (née Emery), a writer, and Paul Church Harper Jr., a painter and the former chairman of the Needham Harper Worldwide advertising agency in New York.[4] She attended the North Shore Country Day School in Winnetka, Illinois, and Sarah Lawrence College in New York.[5] She has two sisters, Lindsay Harper duPont[6] an illustrator and Diana Harper a teacher and three brothers: her twin brother William Harper who is a composer; Sam Harper, a screenwriter and director; and Rev. Charles Harper.


Harper has appeared in more than twenty motion pictures, most notably Dario Argento's Suspiria, Brian DePalma's Phantom of the Paradise & the follow-up to The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Shock Treatment. She was also in My Favorite Year, alongside Peter O'Toole and Mark Linn-Baker, and costarred with Steve Martin and Bernadette Peters in Pennies from Heaven. Woody Allen featured her in his films Stardust Memories and Love and Death, and she appeared in the fourth season of It's Garry Shandling's Show as well as the Steven Spielberg/Tom Cruise film Minority Report. She was seen in a 2005 episode ("Forget Me Not") of the television series Crossing Jordan.

She has written eleven books for children, and made seven albums of songs for children. She was named by Parenting magazine as "Parent of the Month" in 2004. In 2000, she sang background vocals on selected tracks on the Dan Hicks and his Hot Licks album Beatin' the Heat.[7]

In December 2010, Harper released a cookbook titled The Crabby Cook Cookbook: Recipes and Rants. In a January 2011 interview[8] Harper said, "I thought it was high time there was a book that acknowledged that not everybody experiences the joy of cooking, that sometimes cooking for a family on a daily basis can be really irritating! This book, with 135 easy recipes, is for those people, crabby cooks like me! It's a collection of humor, survival tips and recipes, for the kitchen-challenged!" In March 2011, she was on tour promoting her book. Stops included Chicago,[9] where she held a "Lunch and Learn with Jessica Harper".

Personal life[edit]

Harper married Thomas Edgar Rothman, a top executive at Sony Pictures (formerly of 20th Century Fox) on March 11, 1989 in an ecumenical ceremony.[6] She has two daughters, Elizabeth and Nora, who are featured on her children's albums and books. Harper resides in Los Angeles, California, and New York City.[10]

In a blog post on her official website in 2017, Harper revealed she had suffered from neovascular macular degeneration for the past 15 years, and that she receives injections in her eye every six weeks to treat the condition.[11]


  • A Wonderful Life (1994)[12]



Year Title Role Notes
1971 Taking Off Herself Uncredited
1972–1974 'Rameau's Nephew' by Diderot (Thanx to Dennis Young) by Wilma Schoen Unnamed character experimental film
1973 The Garden Party Peggy Short
1974 Phantom of the Paradise Phoenix
1975 Inserts Cathy Cake
1975 Love and Death Natasha
1977 Suspiria Suzy Bannion
1979 The Evictors Ruth Watkins
1980 Stardust Memories Daisy
1981 Shock Treatment Janet Majors
1981 Pennies from Heaven Joan
1982 My Favorite Year K.C. Downing
1986 The Imagemaker Cynthia
1988 The Blue Iguana Cora
1989 Big Man on Campus Dr. Fisk
1989 Eat a Bowl of Tea American prostitute Uncredited
1993 Mr. Wonderful Funny Face
1995 Safe Joyce
1996 Boys Mrs. John Baker
2002 Minority Report Anne Lively
2018 Suspiria Anke Meier
2022 Bones & All Maren's grandmother


Year Title Role Notes
1971 NBC Children's Theatre Elizabeth Tyler Episode: "Super Plastic Elastic Goggles"[13]
1977 Hawaii Five-O Sunny Mandell Episode: "See How She Runs"
1977 Aspen Kit Kendrick Miniseries
1979 Little Women (1979 TV pilot) Jo March Television episode
1979 Studs Lonigan Loretta Lonigan Miniseries
1985 When Dreams Come True Annie Television film
1985 Tales from the Darkside Prudence Episode: "The Tear Collector"
1986 The Equalizer Kate Parnell Episode: "Nocturne"
1986 Moonlighting Janine Dalton Episode: "All Creatures Great...and Not So Great"
1987 Once Again Carrie Television film
1987 Starman Charlotte Episode: "The System"
1987 Trying Times Sydney Episode: "Bedtime Story"
1988–90 It's Garry Shandling's Show Phoebe Bass 19 episodes
1990 Tales from the Crypt Marie Episode: "My Brother's Keeper"
1996 The Story First: Behind the Unabomber Linda Television film
1997 On the Edge of Innocence Alice Walker Television film
1998 Ally McBeal Sister Helen Episode: "Words Without Love"
1999 7th Heaven Norma Moon Episode: "Paranoia"
2005 Crossing Jordan Dorris Meisner Episode: "Forget Me Not"
2015 Proof Virginia Tyler Episode: "St. Luke's"
2019 See Cora 3 Episodes
2022 The Old Man Cheryl Harper 3 Episodes


Year Title Role Venue Notes Ref.
1968–1972 Hair Member of the Tribe Biltmore Theatre Replacement [14]


  1. ^ Erickson, Hal. "Jessica Harper Biography". AllMovie. Archived from the original on January 12, 2022.
  2. ^ Brown, Nic. "An Interview with Jessica Harper". Rogue Cinema. Archived from the original on February 26, 2018. Retrieved April 28, 2015.
  3. ^ Bitran, Tara (November 2, 2018). "Jessica Harper on Early TV Role, Starring in Two Versions of 'Suspiria'". Variety. Retrieved February 23, 2021.
  4. ^ Svitek, Patrick (December 15, 2013). "Paul C. Harper Jr., former chairman of Needham Harper Worldwide, 1920–2013". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on November 3, 2018.
  5. ^ Jessica Harper Biography at Yahoo! Movies
  6. ^ a b "Jessica Harper, actress, Marries T. E. Rothman". The New York Times. March 12, 1989. Retrieved December 30, 2017.
  7. ^ "Dan Hicks Discography". Retrieved January 27, 2017.
  8. ^ Archived February 7, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ "Jessica Harper's The Crabby Cook Appearances".
  10. ^ "Board of Directors: Jessica Harper". Archived from the original on December 31, 2017. Retrieved December 30, 2017.
  11. ^ "My Skin in the Game". 2017. Archived from the original on June 1, 2017. Retrieved December 30, 2017.
  12. ^ McCormick, Moria (December 24, 1994). "Child's Play". Billboard. p. 69. Probably the most delightful surprise of the year was actress Jessica Harper's debut children's album, "A Wonderful Life," on Alacazam!/Alacazar, label arm of wholesaler Silo Inc. of Waterbury, Vt.
  13. ^ "Super Plastic Elastic Goggles". The Paley Center for Media. Retrieved November 13, 2016. Air date was January 30, 1971.
  14. ^ "Hair – Broadway Musical". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved December 30, 2017.

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