From the long NYT obituary for Julie Harris, who died yesterday at the age of 87. Her mother was a socialite (in Grosse Pointe, Michigan). Her father "was an investment banker who was also an expert on squirrels and a curator of mammals at the museum of zoology of the University of Michigan."
For decades, Ms. Harris worked almost constantly.... Her film credits include “Requiem for a Heavyweight” (1962), a boxing melodrama with Anthony Quinn, Mickey Rooney and Jackie Gleason, in which she played a sympathetic but manipulative social worker; “The Haunting” (1963), as a spinster beset by evil spirits; “Harper,” a detective story starring Paul Newman, in which she played a nightclub entertainer and addict...
... “Reflections in a Golden Eye” (1967), an adaptation of a McCullers novel set on an army base in which she played the sickly wife of an officer, played by Brian Keith, who was cheating on her with another officer’s wife (Elizabeth Taylor); “The Bell Jar” (1979), an adaptation of Sylvia Plath’s novel, in which she played the mother of a suicidal young woman; “Gorillas in the Mist” (1984) in which played Roz Carr, a friend to the murdered zoologist Dian Fossey (Sigourney Weaver), and “HouseSitter” (1992) a romantic comedy with Goldie Hawn and Steve Martin — she played his mother.I loved Julie Harris, an actress from back in the days before all the plastic surgery, collagen, and botox, when it was so much more interesting to watch the faces in the movies. Harris was always the one who was not too pretty, though she was pleasant enough to look at. She seemed fragile and wan. I've never seen "Reflections in a Golden Eye," but that's the type-casting they did: She's the sickly wife, and the other woman is Elizabeth Taylor (who was incredibly beautiful, back in the days when great beauty was natural and rare).
By the way, when I was in high school, we did the play version of "The Haunting" — which was called "The Haunting of Hill House" (which was based on the Shirley Jackson novel and should not be confused with the very amusing, campy Vincent Price film "House on Haunted Hill"). I got the role Julie Harris played in that movie. I'd also played Laura in "The Glass Menagerie" the year before, so our theater teacher must have seen me as the fragile, wan type. That's a hell of a self-image to inflict on a young girl, but who notices when it seems so exotic and satisfying to get up on the stage?