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Harris, Barbara, 1935-2018



  • Existence: 1935 - 2018


Barbara Densmoor Harris was born July 25, 1934 in Evanston, IL, and began her career as part of the Chicago-based Playwrights Theatre after studying at Wright Junior College and the Goodman School of Drama. In 1955, she was a founding member of the Compass Players alongside Mike Nichols, Shelly Berman, Elaine May, and others. For the following three years, Harris was married to David Sills, co-founder of the Compass Players, and later joined him in his second venture The Second City which was founded in 1959. Harris performed on Broadway in From the Second City which garnered her a nomination for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical at the 1962 Tony Awards. Subsequent Broadway performances include a 1963 Obie-winning performance in a farce by Arthur Kopit and a supporting role in a Tony nominated revival of Brecht’s Mother Courage and her Children alongside Ann Bancroft. For her performance in Alan Jay Lerner and Burton Lane’s 1965 musical On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, Harris earned her first Tony nomination for Best Actress which she subsequently won the following year for The Apple Tree. Starting in 1965, Harris began appearing in films such as A Thousand Clowns (1965), Plaza Suite (1971), The War Between Men and Women (1972). She received three Golden Globe nominations, including a rare nomination for two separate roles in 1976, and one Academy Award nomination for her performance in Who is Harry Kellerman and Why is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me? (1971). Later appearances include Nashville (1975), Family Plot (1976), Freaky Friday (1976). Peggy Sue Got Married (1986), Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988). Her final film performance was in Grosse Pointe Blank (1997), around which time Harris began teaching improv. On August 21, 2018, Harris died of lung cancer.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Barbara Harris (1935-2018) Papers

Identifier: 55/58

The Barbara Harris (1935-2018) Papers consists of 3 boxes devoted to materials related to the actress’s career on stage, film, and television. The materials span the years 1961 to 2011 and includes biographical materials, playbills, teaching notes, photographs, VHS and audiocassette tapes, and 1.86 gigabytes of digitized files.

Dates: 1961 - 2018