Though born to a very wealthy Michigan family, Julie Harris was not some "poor little rich girl" whose career was subsidized by Daddy and Mommy. In fact, the rebellious Harris chose acting as a profession primarily because her family was dead set against her doing so. Trained at the Yale School of Drama and the Actors' Studio, the deceptively waiflike Harris made her first Broadway appearance in the now-forgotten 1945 production It's a Gift. Five years later she took Broadway by storm as 12-year-old Frankie Addams in Carson McCullers' A Member of the Wedding. Twenty-five years old at the time of the play's premiere, Harris was 27 when she re-created the role in the 1952 film version, but was still so touchingly believable as an awkward adolescent that she was nominated for an Academy Award. Sometimes, Harris' entrancingly emphatic stage mannerisms did not translate so well to film: she seems way over the top as Sally Bowles in 1953's I Am a Camera. For the most part, however, Harris was adept at scaling down her performances for the more intimate medium of film, as witness her winning portrayals in East of Eden (1955), Requiem for a Heavyweight (1962), The Haunting (1963) and Gorillas in the Mist (1988, her first film in several years). Sadly, her long anticipated teaming with Marlon Brando (she'd been up for the leading lady assignment in Brando's Viva Zapata , but was rejected in favor of Jean Peters) was the devastatingly disappointing Reflections in a Golden Eye (1966), the quality of which can be gauged by the fact that Harris played a neurotic housewife who'd cut off her nipples with garden shears. While she never won an Oscar, Harris received Tony awards for her Broadway appearances in I Am a Camera, The Lark, The Last of Mrs. Lincoln, The Belle of Amherst. She also won Emmy awards for her work in the Hallmark Hall of Fame television specials Little Moon of Alban (1958) and Victoria Regina (1961). Julie Harris' additional TV work has included the 1973 sitcom Thicker Than Water, the 1976 Waltons wannabe The Family Holvak, and seven years (1981-88) in the recurring role of Joan Van Ark's mother on the nighttime soap opera Knot's Landing.
~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide