Barbara Harris is an American actress who is best remembered for her roles in films such as ‘A Thousand Clowns’ and ‘Peggy Sue Got Married’. The Tony Award-winning actress was a seasoned stage performer long before she ventured into the world of film. Barbara knew she wanted to be an actress from an early age. When she was a teenager, she dove headfirst into acting and became synonymous with the stage. She was blessed with a natural talent for acting and was blessed with thick blonde hair that she wore in a signature style. She was a true believer in her chosen field and poured her heart into each of her performances. Because of her passion for acting, she never sought fame or fortune—she was content to act as long as she was offered roles she enjoyed and eventually chose to become an acting teacher, away from Hollywood’s glamour and glitz. She possessed all of the necessary characteristics for a sexy superstar—beauty, brains, talent, and a sizable fan base—yet she remained the pretty and sweet girl next door throughout her acting career. She thoroughly enjoyed her Broadway career and is a Tony Award winner.
Childhood & Adolescence
She was born in Illinois on July 25, 1935, to Oscar Graham Harris and Natalie Densmoor. Her mother was a pianist, and her father was a former arborist who became a successful businessman.
Barbara developed an early interest in acting. As a teenager, she began her acting career by auditioning for small roles at Chicago’s Playwrights Theatre Club. She met other aspiring actors there, including Edward Asner, Elaine May, and Mike Nichols.
Career of Barbara
She became a member of her husband’s ongoing improvisational theatre troupe, The Compass Players. The troupe, which eventually disbanded, served as a springboard for her professional career.
Sills founded another theatre group, The Second City, in 1959, following the demise of The Compass Players.
Sills and Barbara had divorced by this point, but maintained professional respect for one another.
As a result, she was also cast in the new theatre troupe.
Barbara quickly established herself as a very popular stage actress after the Second City began performing its sketches on the Broadway stage in 1961.
Indeed, she was nominated for a Tony Award for her debut performance with the troupe, ‘From the Second City.’
Barbara was interested in pursuing various aspects of the profession as an actress and eventually made her way into television and film. Between 1962 and 1964, she appeared as a guest star on a number of popular television shows.
In 1965, she made her film debut as Sandra Markowitz, a social worker in ‘A Thousand Clowns’. The film chronicles the struggle of an unemployed comedy writer to retain custody of his young nephew, whom social workers intend to remove from him.
In 1966, she starred in ‘The Apple Tree,’ a play based on three Mark Twain, Frank R. Stockton, and Jules Feiffer tales. It was a smash hit, lasting 463 performances and garnering numerous awards and nominations.
In 1971, she starred in the comedy-drama ‘Who Is Harry Kellerman and Why Is He Saying Such Terrible Things About Me?’ in which she portrayed an aging actress who is depressed and contemplating suicide. Her performance received widespread acclaim, and she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
She was a member of Robert Altman’s ensemble cast in the 1975 musical drama ‘Nashville.’ She played the role of a struggling country singer who is unable to achieve the success she desires.
In 1976, she starred in Alfred Hitchcock’s dark comedy thriller ‘Family Plot’ as Blanche Tyler. She portrayed a woman who falsely claims to be a psychic, earning her a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress – Musical/Comedy.
In 1976, she co-starred in ‘Freaky Friday’ with a young Jodie Foster. It’s a lighthearted tale about a mother and daughter who magically switch bodies and experience each other’s lives. Her goofy performance was a hit with the crowd.
In 1981’s ‘Second-Hand Hearts,’ she played a crazy, ill-tempered widow. Separated from her three children, her character marries an insecure man in the hope of reclaiming them from her former in-laws. The film bombed at the box office, and she stayed away from acting for several years.
In ‘Peggy Sue Got Married’ in 1986, she portrayed Kathleen Turner’s mother. Throughout the 1990s, she gradually transitioned away from acting and into teaching.
Works of Significant Value
She is best known for her performance in ‘The Apple Tree,’ in which she took on three distinct roles over the course of three acts. She earned critical acclaim for the ease with which she transitioned from one character to another in the play.
Distinctions & Honors
She won the 1967 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her performance in ‘The Apple Tree.’ She was also named “Entertainer of the Year” by Cue Magazine for her performance in this role.
Personal History and Endowment
She married and later divorced director Paul Sills. She is a reclusive individual who prefers to keep her personal life out of the public eye.
Estimated Nert Worth
Barbara is one of the wealthiest film actresses and is ranked among the most popular film actresses. Barbara Harris net worth is estimated to be around $14 million, based on our analysis of Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.