Knot's Landing Reunion
OK, so am I the only one who blubbered all the way through last night's 2-hour reunion show? :crying I'm such a sap. I was already in tears by the time they rolled the opening credits. And when Joan Van Ark and Ted Shackleford were reminiscing. (Val & Gary were always my favorite couple.:biglove ) And the whole thing about Val's babies being kidnapped. And when Greg Sumner was crying over Laura's death. And when Julie Harris made her "surprise" appearance.
I can't believe how emotional I got over something that's been off the air for 12 years. :lol The footage of Nicolette Sheridan was nice to see - she was practically a baby back then. And I wasn't aware that two other "Desperate Housewives" alumni had appeared on Knot's: Marcia Cross and Doug Savant.
My only criticism: I love Joan Van Ark, but she really needs to stop wearing low-cut apparel. Nothing ickier than seeing ribs poking out between the implants.
Nope Q, you were not alone! I have seen every episode of Knot's at least 3-4 times so no way was I going to miss this. :up I can't believe it's been 12 years. :crying I lost it when Sumner was crying after Laura died. It was also fun seeing the DH stars.
I thought for the most part that everyone looked great. William Devane was really showing his age, but everyone else looked wonderful with the exception of Joan Van Ark, like you said. She looked like a skeleton.
I would love to see the reruns again. :)
Add me in. I was more moved by this reunion show than I have been over quite a number of others. The surprised appearance of Julie Harris and the others reaction to her was something to see.
The only one I've never really liked much as an actress is Joan Van Ark. I've loved Michelle Lee since I first saw her on Broadway in "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying."
Man, I forgot this was going to be on and I was watching some other stupid movie! Joan Van Ark was on The Young and The Restless not long ago and I'll agree. She does look bad!
I enjoyed the special too; however, I was shocked by how the cast (with the exception of JOan Van Ark and Donna Mills) looked so much older! But, I guess it has been 20 years (i've been taping Knots on Soapnet's Dysfunctional Family Night and they are showing the episodes from the 80s).
I didn't know they were given such freedom to improvise their roles! But, yeah looking back, I can see that helped with the camaraderie between the characters.
I did not understand why they all acted so surprised when Julie Harris showed up so, with the help of Google, I remembered she had a stroke a few years ago. I'm glad she is doing well. I wonder if they did not really know she would show up for the reunion. And, as surprised as they acted, did they really not know she had recovered so well? Or, were they improvising?
I watched it too. Good show. I never liked Joan Van Ark, either. I thought her face looked so plastic. Her eyes looked stretched and her mouth injected. I think Michelle Lee has aged so gracefully. She looked very pretty. I would absolutely love to have Donna's eyes.
Well, Donna Mills, Ted Shackleford, Bill Devane, Joan Van Ark, Kevin Dobson, and Michele Lee were all close to 40 when the show began in 1979, so they're all past 60 now and most of them are still looking pretty good to my mind.
Originally Posted by katkitty
I do believe they had not been told that Julie Harris would be there. They were clearly in awe of her then and still are. Same as Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill felt about working with Alec Guiness. If only the untalented young bunch of new pseudo actors had that kind of respect for the ones that came before them.
You are so right. I never cared for Lili Mae but that is just a testament to what a phenomenal actress Julie Harris is. She played that part beautifully. I didn't know she had a stroke, that probably explains why she was brought on at the end and did not speak. She looked really good, I hope she is doing well.
Originally Posted by Florimel
You're right...! I didn't even notice she didn't speak. I found a recent article (below...sorry, it's quite lengthy). I guess she can speak but cannot articulate very well)
Originally Posted by Marleybone
Julie Harris, Demurely Taking a Well-Earned Bow
By Chip Crews
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, December 4, 2005; N05
WEST CHATHAM, Mass. "No," Julie Harris says quickly. "No-no-no."
She's laughing and shaking her head, a kind of oh-my-God expression on her face. Make no mistake -- the answer is no.
The question, which doesn't seem all that outrageous, is this: Doesn't the most celebrated stage actress of the past half-century, the first lady of the American theater, have a nice trophy case for all her prizes? After all, there's lots of room in her prosperous, tree-sheltered house here on Cape Cod. And in her long, diligent and distinguished career, she's won her share of hardware -- for starters, five best actress Tony Awards, more than any other performer. (She'll be adding to her haul this weekend as a Kennedy Center Honors recipient.)
But Harris, whose 80th birthday was Friday, is one of the least starry of stars. She's been a celebrated name since 1950, when she opened on Broadway in "The Member of the Wedding," as a 24-year-old actress playing Frankie Addams, a lonely and motherless 12-year-old tomboy in a desperate quest for "the 'we' of me." But she seems embarrassed by talk of marquees and ovations and a legendary career.
(In the end, she does offer a look at her Tonys, which include a sixth that she received in 2002 for lifetime achievement. They reside on a very crowded curio stand in a back room.)
Harris made her New York debut at 19 in a short-lived 1945 play called "It's a Gift." Over the next 56 years, she appeared in 30 Broadway shows, made close to a dozen national tours and played a number of regional productions. Then in 2001, during an engagement in Chicago, she suffered a stroke, and a resultant battle with aphasia has left her forever struggling to express herself. It's been a bitter blow for a woman whose lifework was the conveying of words and ideas.
"I wish I could -- I wish I could speak now all the time," she says simply. "But I can't. I can't."
Aphasia is the partial or total loss of the ability to use or understand words. It can impede one's comprehension or, as in Harris's case, the power of expression. Studies have found that rehabilitation efforts are generally more successful with younger stroke patients.
This is the third time, and the third place, that we have sat to talk. The first was in 1999 in Fort Lauderdale, as her tour of "The Gin Game," co-starring Charles Durning, was about to move to the Kennedy Center. The second was early this year, when she traveled alone to Washington to attend the opening of the Ford's Theatre production of "The Member of the Wedding."
In each of the conversations, she has expressed little fascination with her own past, preferring to concentrate on current endeavors and future projects. Six years ago, she was plotting tours, productions in Seattle and Chicago, and a return to Broadway -- enough to keep her working for the next several seasons. Although Harris has made acclaimed appearances in films and on television, she always has been a creature of the stage.
And that is still true, although she can no longer work there. She keeps track of reviews in newspapers and trade publications and makes frequent trips to New York theaters. She's seen some things she really liked here on Cape Cod, as well as in Boston. "I am a wonderful audience," she says, and several times she consults a tiny red book labeled "Theatre Journal," in which all her enchanted evenings are recorded.
In addition to theatergoing, her reading list is another favorite subject. In the course of 90 minutes in her cozy sunroom, she gets to her feet at least 10 times to display a photo of an actor friend, retrieve a clipped-out book review or consult a volume she's been reading. The stroke has left her "a little bit hesitant" on her feet, but an actress needs her props, and she's bursting to discuss her enthusiasms.
She's just finished the new Joan Didion memoir ("Wonderful!"), and the new biography of Chairman Mao is placed prominently on her coffee table. She's very eager to get to that one, but first she must finish "Wild Swans," a 1991 family memoir by Jung Chang, co-author of the Mao book. And she's intrigued by a review of the posthumous publication of a work by her old friend Spalding Gray.
Like a fervent undergraduate, she underlines passages of particular interest, and although it's difficult for her, she reads some of them aloud to convey her enjoyment. In the end, it seems, it's all about sharing.
But then, it always was. Six years ago, she spoke of her passion for her work.
"What is thrilling about the theater is that it's a form where people come and, for those two or three hours, belong to something -- to ideas, to a feeling of being a member of the human race," she said. "Sharing something. It's very important in life to share our stories, our backgrounds, our hopes, the things that make us afraid."
Her sentences are simpler now. In February, though, she boiled that down at "An Evening With Julie Harris," a Smithsonian event set up in conjunction with her Ford's appearance. "I found God in the theater," she told the audience. "It's God."
Long-ago photos of her capture a lovely young woman. But beyond her physical attractiveness, what jumps out is her intensity, a visible sense of yearning. It's hard to believe anything ever mattered as much as being on that stage, belonging to those ideas.
That suggests a degree of sacrifice, or at least difficult choices. Harris's three marriages ended in divorce. She has a son, Peter Gurian, who lives in a house on her property. Not having had more children was her biggest regret, she said in 1999.
"I was fearful," she said. "When you're fearful, you stop yourself. I thought, 'If I have a lot of children, I won't work, I won't do this, I won't' -- just have them and enjoy them and go on from there. Being a parent is the most important thing I think a human being can do."
But especially during those early years, Harris was following her own gravitational pull. And when her big opportunity finally arose, she was ready.
"The Member of the Wedding" was her ninth Broadway credit. (It's hard to imagine even an extraordinary newcomer of today getting the chance to play so many roles there in only five years.) She had attracted some attention before, and respect within theatrical circles, but nothing like this.
Brooks Atkinson of the New York Times wrote, "In the long, immensely complicated part of the adolescent girl, Julie Harris, a very gifted young actress, gives an extraordinary performance -- vibrant, full of anguish and elation by turns, rumpled, unstable, egotistic and unconsciously cruel." It might have taken half a decade, but she was an overnight star.
This was a time when an actress could make a career and prove her range on Broadway. By her 30th birthday, Harris had added two classic -- and widely divergent -- roles to her gallery. In "I Am a Camera" (1951), the precursor to "Cabaret," she played the amoral floozy Sally Bowles. And in "The Lark" (1955), she was Joan of Arc, a role that landed her on the cover of Time.
The Broadway highlights that still awaited included the popular comedy "A Shot in the Dark" (1961); June Havoc's "Marathon '33" (1963), in which she played a Depression dancer; the hugely successful older woman/younger man comedy "Forty Carats" (1968); "The Last of Mrs. Lincoln" (1972); a solo turn as Emily Dickinson in "The Belle of Amherst" (1976); and "Lucifer's Child" (1991), in which she portrayed Isak Dinesen. (The gap between the last two is partly explained by her six-year 1980s stint as Lilimae Clements on the prime-time soap "Knots Landing.")
And in a forgotten 1960 drama called "Little Moon of Alban" -- she got excellent notices but nobody much liked the play -- she was romanced, briefly, by fellow 2005 Kennedy Center honoree Robert Redford.
"Unfortunately, I died in the first act," Redford says. "And I wanted to be the guy she ended up with. So Julie and I go back to 1960 -- so that's a big deal."
Harris likewise speaks warmly of Redford. But then, evidence of her friendships is everywhere to be seen in her house. Photographs -- Ethel Waters, Geraldine Page, Shirley Booth, Carson McCullers, Michele Lee and many more -- cover the walls and leave barely an empty inch of space on the tables and shelves. Mention, say, Cherry Jones and she rises to her feet yet again to point out a small, framed picture.
Her gentle nature is revered in the theater. At the time of the "Gin Game" tour, production supervisor Mitch Erickson was approaching his 50th anniversary in the business. "I suppose the major thing that sets Julie apart is she's so sweet," he said then. "She's just a darling. Uta Hagen is a great friend of mine. She's temperamental, feisty, tempestuous. Maggie Smith is terrific but also has her foibles. No one in this wide world could say that about Julie."
For many within and outside the theater community, Harris's selection for the Kennedy Center Honors is a belated one. She expresses delight at being chosen with this year's crop, singling out each of her fellow honorees for praise. She says she's never been to the Kennedy Center event, but "I've seen it all the time."
And in the privacy of this very room, has she ever watched the show and thought, "Hey -- what about me?"
She dissolves into laughter. "No, no," she cries. "No, no, no, no."
In fact, it's hard to find a lot of "What about me?" in Julie Harris. A note from the interview with her six years ago reads: "You can pay her a compliment and she'll accept it graciously. She just doesn't seem very interested in it." It was the doing that mattered, the striving, the stretching. And the friendships.
"I loved actors," she says. "I loved actors. And it was wonderful to be with them in plays. It was always -- it was wonderful to be in a play with actors." That didn't seem to come out quite right, and she laughs.
In 1999, she spoke of the ephemeral nature of theater. But did she ever envy those performers who leave a filmed or taped record of their best moments, while hers evaporate?
"No," she said, "because the thing that was so exciting for me in the theater was that very thing -- it burns for that time, and then it's gone. Except it's never gone in your head and in your heart. I can still remember Laurence Olivier on the stage, and Margaret Leighton and Alan Webb and Ralph Richardson and Wendy Hiller. I can tell you about them. It's tangible to me."
And because her own work is tangible to many other people, Harris has arrived at this weekend of remembrance and celebration. It'll be a kind of curtain call for her career, but then she knows how to take a curtain call.
All those roles, all those colleagues, all those nights on all those stages: It would be nice to think that she spends time with her memories and that they make her very happy.
"No," she responds. She shakes her head and laughs. "I don't. No. That was then. And this is now."
And now, as ever, there's much to do.
© 2005 The Washington Post Company
Oh, I loved watching this reunion show! When I use to watch the show, I always wanted to get married and live on a cul-de-sac like Karen and Mac...Greg Sumner was so sexy back then! I remember sobbing when Laura died (why did they blur out her image on the reunion show when they were showing Greg crying while looking at her tape after her death?) Ahh...Knots Landing...that was the good ole days!:up
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