A commanding presence, Julius Harris


Julius Harris
Date: 
Wed, 1923-11-21

The birth of Julius Harris in 1923 is celebrated on this date. He was an African American actor.

He was born in Philadelphia, to a Cotton Club dancer mother and a musician father. Harris served as an Army medic during World War II and became an orderly and a nurse after leaving the military in 1950. He eventually moved to New York City, where he landed his first role as actor Ivan Dixon's drunk, defeated father in "Nothing But a Man," a critically acclaimed 1964 film about Black life in the South starring Dixon and Abbey Lincoln. Harris was also a former member of the Negro Ensemble Company in New York City.

He played many diverse roles in an acting career that spanned four decades. He was the evil Tee Hee in the James Bond film "Live and Let Die" and a gangster in the 1972 film classic "Superfly." Regarding "Superfly," Harris told the Los Angeles Times in October 2003, "Even today, if I am walking in a black neighborhood, people call me by my 'Superfly' name Scatter.” Harris appeared in more than 70 film and television productions in roles that included a preacher who headed a slave group in the 1982 Civil War miniseries "The Blue and the Gray" and Ugandan President Idi Amin in the TV movie "Victory at Entebbe."

"His work helped African-Americans break out of stereotypical movie roles and move to more dynamic heroes and fully realized human beings," said Halle Berry, who also honored him in a taped introduction to Harris' film work.

Julius Harris died of heart failure at the Motion Picture and Television Hospital on October 22, 2004. He had two children, Kimberly and Gideon.

Reference:
San Francisco Chronicle,
October 2004

To become an Actor or Actress

Person / name: 

Harris, Julius