Rosemary Ann Harris
19 September 1927
(m. 1959; div. 1967)
(m. 1967; died 2018)
Rosemary Ann Harris (born 19 September 1927) is a British actress. She is the recipient of such accolades as a Primetime Emmy Award, a Golden Globe Award, and a Tony Award, in addition to nominations for an Academy Award and a BAFTA Award. In 1986, Harris was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame.
Harris began her stage career in 1948, before making her Broadway debut in 1952. For her New York stage work, she is a four-time Drama Desk Award winner and nine-time Tony Award nominee, winning the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play in 1966 for The Lion in Winter. On television, she won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie for the BBC serial Notorious Woman, and the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama for the miniseries Holocaust (1978). In film, Harris portrayed Aunt May in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man (2002), a role she reprised in Spider-Man 2 (2004), and Spider-Man 3 (2007). For her performance in Tom & Viv (1994), Harris received multiple nominations for the role, including Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Harris was born on 19 September 1927 in Ashby, Suffolk, the daughter of Enid Maude Frances (née Campion) and Stafford Berkeley Harris. One of her grandmothers was from Kronstadt in the Habsburg Empire (today Romania). Her father was in the Royal Air Force and, as a result, Harris' family lived in India during her early childhood. She attended convent schools, and later studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art from 1951 to 1952.
Early in her acting career, she gained experience in English repertory theatre. In 1948, she acted in Kiss and Tell at Eastbourne and Margate with Tilsa Page and John Clark and later with Anthony Cundell's company at Penzance, where she played the mother in Black Chiffon. She went from Penzance to train at RADA. She first appeared in New York in 1951 in Moss Hart's Climate of Eden, and then returned to Britain for her West End debut in The Seven Year Itch which ran for a year at the Aldwich.
Harris then entered a classical acting period in productions with the Bristol Old Vic and then the Old Vic, appearing at the latter as Ophelia in the National Theatre Company's opening production of Hamlet in October 1963, alongside Peter O'Toole in the title role. Writing in UK newspaper The Guardian in 2003 as part of a series on landmark theatre productions, playwright Samantha Ellis noted of the National Theatre's opening night:
Olivier gloomily anticipated bad reviews. But RB Marriott, in The Stage, found O'Toole to be "a magnificent Prince" and Rosemary Harris "the most real and touching Ophelia". (In contrast, Felix Barker, in the Evening News, called her "an embarrassing deb who has had too much gin".) And Harold Hobson, in The Sunday Times, was overcome.
Her first film followed, Beau Brummell (1954) with Stewart Granger and Elizabeth Taylor, and then a touring season with the Old Vic brought her back to Broadway in Tyrone Guthrie's production of Troilus and Cressida. She met Ellis Rabb who had plans to start his own producing company on Broadway. By 1959, the Association of Producing Artist (APA) was established, and she and Rabb were married on 4 December of that year.
In 1962, she returned to Britain and Chichester Festival Theatre during its opening season when the director was Laurence Olivier; she appeared as Elena in Olivier's celebrated 1962–63 Chichester production of Uncle Vanya. In 1964, she was Ophelia to Peter O'Toole's Hamlet in the inaugural production of the Royal National Theatre of Great Britain.
Returning to New York, she worked further with the APA, and then was cast as Eleanor of Aquitaine in The Lion in Winter, a performance that garnered her a Tony Award in 1966. Rabb directed her one last time as Natasha in War and Peace in 1967, the same year they agreed to divorce. A little while later, Harris married the American writer John Ehle. The two of them can be heard interviewing prospective candidates, Black public school student candidates for scholarships to all-white private "Segregation academies", on surviving recordings. Ehle was the manager for this Stouffer Foundation program.
Ehle and Harris settled in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where their daughter, Jennifer, was born in 1969. Jennifer Ehle followed in her mother's footsteps by becoming a noted film, television and Broadway actress.
In 1974, Harris starred in the BBC TV serial Notorious Woman, which aired on PBS in the US as part of Masterpiece Theatre. For this role, she won the 1976 Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series. She won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – TV Drama for the 1978 NBC miniseries Holocaust, which also starred Meryl Streep. Reviewing the BBC's 1983 production of To the Lighthouse, an adaptation of Virginia Woolf's novel of the same name, The New York Times' John J. O'Connor wrote: "A luminous, flawless performance by Miss Harris makes Mrs. Ramsay as memorable on film as she is on the printed page." She received a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for the 1994 film Tom & Viv. Harris and her daughter Ehle, played the young and elderly incarnations, respectively, of the same character in István Szabó's 1999 film Sunshine, about a Hungarian Jewish family. They had previously played the young and old Calypso in the Channel 4 production of The Camomile Lawn (1992).
Harris appeared in the rotating cast of the Off-Broadway staged reading of Wit & Wisdom. In 2007, she received the North Carolina Award for fine arts. Her husband, John Ehle, won the same award in 1972 for literature.
|1954||Beau Brummell||Mrs. Fitzherbert||film debut|
|1957||The Shiralee||Lily Parker|
|1968||A Flea in Her Ear||Gabrielle Chandebisse|
|1978||The Boys from Brazil||Mrs. Doring|
|1983||The Ploughman's Lunch||Ann Barrington|
|1988||Crossing Delancey||Pauline Swift|
|1992||The Bridge||Aunt Jude|
|1994||Tom & Viv||Rose Haigh-Wood|
|1999||My Life So Far||Gamma|
|2000||The Gift||Annie's Granny|
|2002||Spider-Man||Aunt May Parker|
|2004||Being Julia||Julia's mother|
|2007||Spider-Man 3||Aunt May Parker|
|2007||Before the Devil Knows You're Dead||Nanette|
|2008||Is Anybody There?||Elsie|
|2008||The Monday Before Thanksgiving||Lillian Cotlo||Short film|
|2010||Radio Free Albemuth||VALIS (voice role)|
|2012||This Means War||Nana Foster|
|2015||The von Trapp Family: A Life of Music||Older Agathe von Trapp|
|1952||A Cradle of Wlllow||Tansy Clampett||Television debut|
|1952||Studio One in Hollywood||Herself||Episode: "The Great Lady"|
|1957||Alfred Hitchcock Presents||Louise Rogers / Dorothy Whitely / Countess Helen Mattoni||3 episodes|
|1957||Twelfth Night||Viola||Television film|
|1958||Suspicion||Sybil Merton||Episode: "Lord Arthur Savile's Crime"|
|1958||Omnibus||Cordelia||Episode: "Moment of Truth"|
|1958||Dial M for Murder||Margot Wendice||Television film|
|1958||Folio||Dynamene||Episode: "A Phoenix Too Frequent"|
|1958||DuPont Show of the Month||Cathy Linton||Episode: Wuthering Heights|
|1959||Encounter||Norah Marsh||Episode: "The Land of Promise"|
|1964||Profiles in Courage||Mary S. McDowell||Episode: "Mary S. McDowell"|
|1966||Blithe Spirit||Elvira Condomine||Television film|
|1967||Uncle Vanya||Jelena Andrejewna||Television film|
|1974||Notorious Woman||George Sand||Television miniseries; 7 episodes|
|1977||The Royal Family||Julie Cavendish||Television film|
|1978||Holocaust||Berta Palitz Weiss||Television miniseries; 4 episodes|
|1979–1980||The Chisholms||Minerva Chisholm||Television miniseries; 13 episodes|
|1983||To the Lighthouse||Mrs. Ramsay||Television film|
|1992||The Camomile Lawn||Calypso (older)||Television miniseries; 2 episodes|
|1994||Under the Hammer||Hester Bovington||Episode: "The Spectre at the Feast"|
|1994||Summer Day's Dream||Margaret Dawlish||One-off production in the BBC's Performance series|
|1996||The Little Riders||Grandma Roden||Television film|
|1996||Death of a Salesman||Linda||Television film|
|2010||Law & Order: Special Victims Unit||Francine Brooks||Episode: "Wet"|
|2014||The Money||Ellen Knox||Television film|
|2020||The Undoing||Janet Fraser||Episode: "Trial by Fury"|
|2022||Search Party||Beatrice||2 episodes|
|1998||Dark Side of the Moon||Miner Woman (voice role)||PC version for Windows 95/98|
Awards and nominations
|1994||Tom & Viv||Best Actress in a Supporting Role||Nominated|
|1984||The Ploughman's Lunch||Best Actress in a Supporting Role||Nominated|
|2007||Before the Devil Knows You're Dead||Best Ensemble Cast||Won|
Critics Choice Film Awards
|2008||Before the Devil Knows You're Dead||Best Acting Ensemble||Nominated|
National Board of Review
|1994||Tom & Viv||Best Supporting Actress||Won|
Primetime Emmy Award
|1976||Notorious Woman||Best Lead Actress in a Limited Series||Won|
|1978||Holocaust||Best Lead Actress in a Limited Series||Nominated|
Golden Globe Awards
|1976||Notorious Woman||Best Actress in a Television Series – Drama||Nominated|
|1978||Holocaust||Best Actress in a Television Series – Drama||Won|
|1966||The Lion in Winter||Best Actress in a Play||Won|
|1972||Old Times||Best Actress in a Play||Nominated|
|1976||The Royal Family||Best Actress in a Play||Nominated|
|1984||Heartbreak House||Best Actress in a Play||Nominated|
|1985||Pack of Lies||Best Actress in a Play||Nominated|
|1986||Hay Fever||Best Actress in a Play||Nominated|
|1996||A Delicate Balance||Best Actress in a Play||Nominated|
|2000||Waiting in the Wings||Best Actress in a Play||Nominated|
|2010||The Royal Family||Best Featured Actress in a Play||Nominated|
|2019||Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre||Won|
Drama Desk Award
|1972||Old Times||Best Performance||Won|
|1973||A Streetcar Named Desire||Best Performance||Won|
|1973||The Merchant of Venice||Best Performance||Won|
|1976||The Royal Family||Actress in a Play||Won|
|1984||Heartbreak House||Actress in a Play||Nominated|
|1985||Pack of Lies||Actress in a Play||Won|
|1996||A Delicate Balance||Actress in a Play||Nominated|
Laurence Olivier Award
|1981||All My Sons||Actress in a Revival||Nominated|
|1983||Heartbreak House||Actress in a Revival||Nominated|
|1993||Lost in Yonkers||Supporting Actress||Nominated|
|1962||The Tavern, The School for Scandal, The Seagull||Distinguished Performance by an Actress||Won|
|1965||Judith, Man and Superman, War and Peace||Distinguished Performance by an Actress||Won|
|2003||All Over||Distinguished Performance by an Actress||Nominated|
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- "Rosemary Harris". Yahoo! Movies. Archived from the original on 11 May 2006. Retrieved 4 August 2018.
- Rosemary Harris and the Picture: Madonna of the Slaughtered Jews Archived 15 February 2006 at the Wayback Machine. Nmia.com. Retrieved on 27 August 2011.
- Hollywood made in Romania (partea a II-a). eroiiromanieichic.ro (8 December). Retrieved on 13 January 2013.
- "Interview with Actor Rosemary Harris". Broadway World. 9 September 2014. Retrieved 4 August 2018.
- Rosenfeld, Megan (30 March 1986). "Rosemary Harris, Blissfully". The Washington Post. Retrieved 4 August 2018.
- Welsh, Anne Marie (29 September 2007). "Six decades on, Rosemary Harris's career is still in the 'Pink'". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved 4 August 2018.
- Hischak, Thomas S. (2001). American Theatre: A Chronicle of Comedy and Drama, 1969–2000. Oxford University Press. p. 96. ISBN 978-0-19-512347-0.
- Gussow, Mel (27 May 1996). "For Rosemary Harris, A Delicate Balance Of Her Art and Life". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 November 2017.
- Gerard, Jeremy (27 January 2015). "Rosemary Harris On 'The Holocaust', Tom Stoppard & Liz Taylor: Conversations With Jeremy Gerard". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 4 August 2018.
- Bordman, Gerald; Hischak, Thomas S. (2004). The Oxford Companion to American Theatre. Oxford University Press. p. 293. ISBN 978-0-19-516986-7.
- Wearing, J. P. (2014). The London Stage 1950-1959: A Calendar of Productions, Performers, and Personnel. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield. p. 229. ISBN 978-0-8108-9307-8.
- "National Theatre actress: 'I wasn't a bit nervous'". BBC Online. 22 October 2013. Retrieved 9 June 2016.
- Ellis, Samantha (12 March 2003). "Hamlet, National Theatre, October 1963". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 9 June 2016.
- "Harris, Rosemary 1927(?)-". encyclopedia.com. Archived from the original on 14 December 2018. Retrieved 14 December 2018.
- "Rosemary Harris Biography (1930?-)". filmreference.com. Archived from the original on 29 June 2018. Retrieved 14 December 2018.
- See the VHS recording of this performance issued by Arthur Cantor Films, New York.
- "VIDEO: Watch Stage and Screen Legend Rosemary Harris Accept 2019 Lifetime Achievement Tony Award". BroadwayWorld. 9 June 2019. Retrieved 9 June 2019.
- Reich, Ronni (25 February 2014). "Rosemary Harris returns to the New York stage". NJ.com. Retrieved 4 August 2018.
- Sandomir, Richard (12 April 2018). "John Ehle, Who Rooted His Novels in Appalachia, Is Dead at 92". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 August 2018.
- Glass, Ira; Secret, Mosi (8 September 2017). "Essay B". This American Life. WBEZ. Retrieved 24 January 2021. A transcript is also available.
- Kavanagh, Julie; Avedon, Richard (13 May 1996). "Chameleons". The New Yorker. Retrieved 4 August 2018.
- O'Connor, John J. (12 October 1984). "TV Weekend; Virginia Woolf's 'To the Lighthouse'". The New York Times. New York City. Retrieved 9 June 2016.
- Kehr, Dave (16 June 2000). "AT THE MOVIES; A Resemblance? It's Only Natural". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 February 2010.
- "Synopsis of Wit & Wisdom" at Theater Mania
- North Carolina Award profile Archived 15 August 2008 at the Wayback Machine
- Salfino, Michael (28 June 2017). "Hold On, You're Spider-Man's Aunt May?". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 4 August 2018.
- Monahan, Mark (25 January 2008). "The face is familiar: Rosemary Harris". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 11 January 2022. Retrieved 4 August 2018.
- Vine, Hannah (28 September 2018). "First Look at Tony Winner Rosemary Harris in My Fair Lady on Broadway". Playbill. Archived from the original on 16 November 2018. Retrieved 14 December 2018.
- "Rosemary Harris returns to Broadway in My Fair Lady at Lincoln Center Theater". New York Theater Guide. Retrieved 14 December 2018.
- "Search Past Tony Award Winners and Nominees". Tony Awards. Retrieved 4 August 2018.
- "Rosemary Harris – Broadway Cast & Staff | IBDB". www.ibdb.com. Retrieved 5 January 2020.