American theater mourned one of its most prolific and most celebrated artists Saturday, August 24. Broadway Julie Harris, 87, passed away at her home in Chatham, Mass. due to congestive heart failure, family friend Francesca James confirmed.
Harris scored 10 Tony nominations and won Best Actress five times leading to her being awarded special Lifetime Achievement at the 2002 Tonys. It made her the most decorated artist in Broadway's history, being closely followed by five-time Tony winners Angela Lansbury and Audra McDonald.
Harris made her Broadway debut in 1945 while she was still in college, and got her big break in the 1950 play "The Member of the Wedding". She won her first Tony trophy two years later for playing Sally Bowles in "I Am a Camera". Her other Tony wins included her role as Abraham Lincoln's wife Mary Todd Lincoln in 1973's "The Last of Mrs Lincoln".
Her last Tony win was in 1977 when she was honored for portraying poet Emily Dickinson in "The Belle of Amherst". Her performance in the one-woman show also won a Grammy Award for best spoken word recording.
Though she was a stage actress at heart, her career was not limited only on Broadway. She made her first appearance on the big screen when reprising her Broadway role as a teen loner Frankie in the film adaptation of her hit play "The Member of The Wedding". She was nominated for the Best Actress at the Academy Awards. Her other movies included 1955's "East of Eden" with James Dean.
On television, Harris was famous for her role as country music singer Lilimae Clements on the 1980s soap opera "Knot's Landing". She won three Emmy Awards between 1959 and 2000, including one for her role in James Costigan's "Little Moon of Alban". She portrayed a young Irishwoman who fell in love with a man who killed her lover in the British war.
Harris suffered a stroke in 2001. Though it impaired her ability to speak clearly, it didn't stop her to appear in a handful of films, including 2006's "The Way Back Home" where she played a stroke victim. The actress had another stroke in 2010.
Harris received many prestigious prizes during her long remarkably career, aside from recognitions from Tony, Grammy and Oscar. She was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 1994, and was a Kennedy Center honoree in 2005. She was also a member of the American Theatre Hall of Fame.
Harris was divorced three times. She is survived by a son, Peter Gurian.