Jerry Tallmer Takes a Shot in the Dark
Clip Job: an excerpt every day from the Voice archives.
February 22, 1962, Vol. VII, No. 18
Sense and Sensibility of a Nude Gamine
By Jerry Tallmer
Julie Harris, a hilarious hoyden in the Bardot style (complete with long blong pony tail), took her bows at the Booth and skittered backstage; moments later she sat with impeccable posture in her dressing room, straining carefully, sensitively, graciously for answers, for the exact word, the particular sense: a compleate and lovely lady and most quiet, cultured mouse.
The show was "A Shot in the Dark," a funny if utterly trivial Achard-Kurnitz comedy (she doesn't think it trivial) in which she plays Josefa the French maid, a free-loving, free-speaking soul who has been found unconscious and nude and gun in hand beside the corpse of her quondam chaffeur lover. The character was modeled after (and probably for) Bardot, and nothing could be farther from at least the visible personality of Miss Julie Harris of Grosse Point, Michigan, Yale University Drama School, and the elegant East 50's town house that is now and has always been her proper station in life.
Last spring she had done The Village Voice a great service in coming downtown to hand away the 6th annual "Obie" Awards as cleanly and genuinely as they have ever been handed away; it seemed only proper to return the favor with the interview suggested the other day by the publicity department of "Shot in the Dark." But what to talk about? "In a curious way," said Josefa the sex queen of West 45th Street, "being as I am in the Broadway theatre, in a curious way I am isolated from the theatre itself." She took a tiny sip of bouillon from a spoon she barely let glide at the edge of the cup farthest from her person.
"Once in a while," said the radiant star of stage, screen, and television, "I am asked to do a play and I'm thrilled to do it, but I don't feel a part of the theatre, you know? I feel as if I'm in some...lonely...ivory tower."
But did she not enjoy her work whenever she was working? Didn't she feel a part of something as Josefa?
"Oh yes. Oh yes, very much. I think it's a beautifully written comedy with a lot of room for...spontaneity."
...The standard question of 1962 has to do with the current state of the Broadway theatre, and in the remaining moments it was placed before her. "Well, I think," she said, and as is her fashion, stopped to think. "I think that if it keeps on going the way it is now, soon only the very wealthiest people will be able to afford it." How did she mean that, she was asked. "I mean privately -- in the their own homes."
"And that's because - ?"
"That's because all of us have been greedy," said Julie Harris.
[Each weekday morning, we post an excerpt from another issue of the Voice, going in order from our oldest archives. Visit our Clip Job archive page to see excerpts back to 1956.]
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