MY DAY: Julie Harris… my real-life Mary Lincoln

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A wonderful actress, Julie Harris, has passed away.

CBS Announcement of Julie Harris’ death.

I got to meet Ms. Harris in the late 1980’s when she was touring in DRIVING MISS DAISY. Playwright James Prideaux, a Ball State graduate, wrote the Tony winning play, THE LAST OF MRS. LINCOLN, which starred Ms. Harris. At the time, I was researching my musical on Mary Lincoln, and Mr. Prideaux, upon learning Ms. Harris would be in Indianapolis, arranged for a backstage meeting. What a wonderful treat. Ms. Harris requested my address, and a week later I received a packet of notes from her research on Mary Lincoln.

One comment she shared: “The only thing I regret about playing Mrs. Lincoln is that I never got to play her opposite Hal Holbrook’s President Lincoln.” [Referring to the television movies of the early/mid 1970’s when Sada Thompson portrayed Mrs. Lincoln.]

Several years later, while eating pizza with Mr. Holbrook following a performance of TONIGHT WITH MARK TWAIN, I shared this story with him.  He looked at me, laid down his pizza, and leaned forward.  “Are you kidding me?  My gosh! (he sat back in his seat in disbelief)  Julie Harris is a star.”

Wow!  And I was sitting across from chopped liver?

I will never forget my time with Mr. Harris, and will always appreciate the notes and cards sent me, through the years.

“Good night, Ms. Harris, and choirs of angels sing Thee to Thy rest.”

About Wright Flyer Guy

Darin is a single adoptive father, a teacher, playwright, and musical theatre director from Kettering, Ohio.
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