Keeping Score In America: Chapter Twelve: Julie Harris
By Michael Moriarty
Haven't cried so much over the death of a great artist since… I can't remember when.
No, I never have cried such tears of recent loss yet eternal gratitude for having lived while she created her extraordinary performances.
I never really met Julie Harris.
Our paths might have crossed in distant ways but she was always such a singular soul in my memory, an indelibly written name and voice and … well… soul. There's really no other way for me to describe it.
The soul of Julie Harris!
I hear it now!!!
Crying out her hopes and agonies as the young misfit tomboy "Frankie" in Member of The Wedding.
The closest I ever came to her was, in fact, working with the director of Member of The Wedding, Harold Clurman.
I foolishly never asked him about working with her. I foolishly never asked him much about anything even though he had always been generous with me in both his advice and support.
Oh, well… Julie Harris!
Her voice when she was consoling and advising James Dean as his best friend in East of Eden, supporting him in the midst ofhis plight with his father. I don't believe I've heard or seen or experienced the emotion of compassion on the profoundly deep level Ms. Harris brought to us… ever!!
Not in the theater and not even in real life!!!
Not that her compassion wasn't real! Her compassion was rather a Biblical pinnacle of love and pity, a miracle we are more than prepared to share because of the unrelentingly Biblical metaphors running throughout John Steinbeck's masterpiece, East of Eden.
The invisible hand of genius in that film, of course, was Elia Kazan's.
I met Mr. Kazan and he, too, like Harold Clurman, was always generous with his advice and support.
All of them, however, Clurman, Kazan and even James Dean as well, they all were divinely blessed to have not only crossed paths with Julie Harris but to have been privileged enough to reap the rewards of her own particular brand of genius.
Then, of course, her uncanny love and understanding for that big lug, Anthony Quinn, in Requiem For A Heavyweight.
What was Julie Harris' genius?
My guess is Simone Signoret's analysis of her own acting.
"I don't know if I'm a great actress but I do know that I am transparent."
That was Julie Harris and her soul: utterly, completely and courageously transparent.
I will shed tears for our loss of her perhaps forever… unless, of course, I eventually meet her in heaven where I will most certainly tell her what, by then, she will already know: the whole world's, plus Eternity's, divinely justified love for her.
Michael Moriarty is a Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning actor who starred in the landmark television series Law and Order from 1990 to 1994. His recent film and TV credits include The Yellow Wallpaper, 12 Hours to Live, Santa Baby and Deadly Skies. Contact Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be found on Twitter at https://twitter.com/@MGMoriarty.