Julie Harris, 1925-2013

By Thom Geier
August 30, 2013 at 04:00 AM EDT

Julie Harris had range. The Michigan-born actress — who died on Aug. 24 of congestive heart failure at age 87 — became a fixture on Broadway, playing everyone from the saintly Joan of Arc to the hedonist Sally Bowles, from Mary Todd Lincoln to Emily Dickinson. Over a career that spanned seven decades, she won a record six Tony awards, including a Lifetime Achievement honor in 2002. Not that she restricted herself to the stage. In 1952, when she was 27, Harris earned an Oscar nod for convincingly playing 12-year-old tomboy Frankie in The Member of the Wedding. Other film roles followed, such as James Dean’s love interest in 1955’s East of Eden and a neurotic Army wife in 1967’s Reflections in a Golden Eye opposite Marlon Brando and Elizabeth Taylor. Harris became a staple on the small screen, too, earning three Emmys, but she was no snob: For seven years, she played Southern chanteuse Lilimae Clements on the ’80s soap Knots Landing. ”She used to joke…and be funny and off-color and crazy and wonderful,” recalls Joan van Ark, who costarred as her daughter on Knots. ”She was so extraordinary. Period. The end.”