Barbara Harris, the delightfully quirky star of Freaky Friday (1976), died today of lung cancer, Variety reports.
She was 83.
Here's Barbara Harris doing a number from The Apple Tree on the Tonys (she won, of course--note the quick change!) She worked infrequently and lived very privately in the last 30 years. Quite a legacy nonetheless. She will be missed. https://t.co/YNGvgo3BkR
— Mark Harris (@MarkHarrisNYC) August 21, 2018
Born in Evanston, Illinois, Harris took to the stage as a teenager, cofounding the Second City troupe and making her Broadway debut in 1961 and winning the Tony in 1967 for The Apple Tree (1966).
Barbara Harris had the most fascinating, unmistakable, inimitable primal belt—almost heavy metal disguised as musical theatre. A comedy legend. Rest in peace. pic.twitter.com/cGsmVE59qM
— Ryan McPhee (@rdmcphee) August 21, 2018
Harris was more serious about acting than she was about the theater, abandoning the stage in the early '70s in favor of one of the most diverse film careers of her era.
Goodnight sweet lady. You were a force. I will miss your calls.
— Ed Asner (@TheOnlyEdAsner) August 21, 2018
Nobody did cerebrally ditzy like Harris, who patented that type in A Thousand Clowns (1965). For 1971's Who Is Harry Kellerman and Why Is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me?, Harris received her first and only Academy Award nomination.
With or without Oscars and other accolades, Harris tore up the '70s, making beautiful music as Albuquerque, a country singer, in Robert Altman's (1925-2006) Nashville (1975); as a phony psychic in Alfred Hitchcock's (1899-1980) last film, Family Plot (1976); as a woman who swaps bodies with her rebellious teen daughter (played by Jodie Foster, b. 1962) in Freaky Friday (1976); and as a whacky church lady in The North Avenue Irregulars (1979).
With the passing of Barbara Harris today, our generation lost its true female comic genius and a girl for the ages. #RIPBarbaraHarris #familyplot
— Bruce Dern (@BruceDern) August 21, 2018
Highlights of the latter part of Harris's career include Peggy Sue Got Married (1986), Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988), and her swan song, Grosse Pointe Blank (1997).
I have to put a plug in for another great Barbara Harris performance in a Broadway Show written expressly for her. She was the original Daisy Gamble in “On a Clear Day You Can See Forever”!