Skip to main content

Harris, Ann Lee, 1918-2003



  • Existence: 1918 - 2003


Ann Lee was born August 8, 1918, at Amarillo, Texas, the daughter of James William Lee and DeMetres Thacker Lee, Texas ranchers. Lee attended Amarillo Senior High School between 1931 and 1935, spending a portion of summer, 1934, as a student enrolled in Northwestern University’s National High School Institute. She also attended Amarillo College, 1935-1937, and participated in the Lake Shore Theater Colony of Westford, Massachusetts, before matriculating to Northwestern University’s School of Speech in 1937. She took a Bachelor of Science degree in Speech from Northwestern in 1939.

Lee exhibited a strong interest in theatre and performance and participated in drama and music while in high school and at Northwestern. She appeared in Northwestern’s University Theatre productions of Measure for Measure (1938 as Juliet), The Dark Tower (1938 as Miss Martha Temple), Oedipus the King (1939 as Iocasta), and The Comedy of Errors (1939 as the courtesan). Lee also appeared in a Northwestern Studio Theatre production of Cradle Song (1938). She took the role of Emma in The Shewing-Up of Blanco Posnet, during a 1938 performance of three George Bernard Shaw plays performed at the First Methodist Episcopal Church of Evanston, Illinois.

Lee was an active member of the Northwestern University community, joining Phi Beta, the honorary professional speech and music sorority, and delivering a monologue at the spring, 1938 tea of the Pan-Hellenic Association. She also worked on backstage crews for Northwestern dramatic productions.

Lee’s talent won her a scholarship in 1939 to the Max Reinhardt’s School of the Theatre in Hollywood, California. She appeared in a March 26, 1940 LOOK Magazine feature on that school.

Lee made a name for herself quickly in professional theatre, holding parts in New York and traveling productions of Lady in the Dark, O Mistress Mine, and Ramshackle Inn. She also performed parts for television broadcast. Lee was instrumental in establishing a program of live theatre in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and later, in 1949, was a co-founder of the Sombrero Playhouse of Phoenix, Arizona, the city where she took up residence. Introduced to farmer and rancher Jack Harris in 1951, Lee married him in 1959. The couple resided in metropolitan Phoenix and also maintained a ranch at Coalinga, California. They achieved success as restauranteurs, operating Harris Ranch Restaurant (Coalinga), Harris’ (San Francisco, California and Phoenix, Arizona), and Cacti (Novato, California).

Jack Harris died in 1981. Ann Lee Harris died August 19, 2003, at Scottsdale, Arizona.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Ann Lee (1918-2003) Papers

Identifier: 31/6/182

Ann Lee Harris, 1939 graduate of Northwestern University, was an actor and restauranteur. The Ann Lee papers consist largely of newspaper clippings documenting Lee’s life and career; photographs; and playbills from specific productions in which she appeared.

Dates: 1937-2003, n.d.