A Public Farewell to Julie Harris

I wanted to take the opportunity to say a public farewell to Julie Harris.

Just a few weeks ago, someone who had been a friend and caregiver to Julie in these past few years told me that, although her health had spiraled downward for some time, she was in no immediate danger. Then the call came this weekend.

Many years ago, I sat in New York, dealing with a dilemma. I had been offered a wonderful acting part in a TV mini-series. Great cast, good director, based on a critically acclaimed novel, lead role. My agent, an old guard type who had those specific tastes regarding his clients and their work that are all but extinct today, told me I was also offered a part on the TV series Knots Landing, to play opposite, among others, Julie Harris.

That agent of mine, Michael Bloom, advised me, "You do the mini-series, it comes and goes. Or you are a cast addition to a hit show and your scenes are with the greatest living American actress." Not much wiggle room there.

Some memories of Julie:

We are returning to the Salishan Lodge in Gleneden Beach, Oregon. Knots was shooting there for a couple of weeks. As we pull up to the hotel after dinner, I ask Julie if she is anxious to get back home to LA.

"No," she said. "I never wish for things to end because that's to wish your life to be over."

Sitting in Julie's dressing room one day, running lines with Don Mueller, our dialogue coach. I asked Julie what were among her most memorable moments in film acting. She paused for a moment, then, with the pride of a ten year old recounting the winning home run she hit, Julie beamed and said, "I'm one of two women to kiss Jimmy Dean in a movie."

Lastly, I'm sitting with Julie and others in the cast, mulling over what publicist I might hire. Julie, as if I were discussing a facelift at the age of 25, just frowned at me and said, "Don't get a publicist, Alec. Let the work speak for itself."

God, how I wish I'd had the guts to follow that advice.

Her voice was like rainfall. Her eyes connected directly to and channeled the depths of her powerful and tender heart. Her talent, a gift from God.

When you worked opposite Julie, you just had to look into those eyes and listen to that voice and you were there. Julie's talent, her very being, led you where you needed to go.