It’s a “stop the presses” moment.
Rosemary Harris, noted actress and longtime Winston-Salem resident, received a Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre on Sunday night during the 73rd annual awards ceremony at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. It celebrates a career that began with her Broadway debut in 1952 in “The Climate of Eden,” extends through her 1966 Best Actress Tony for “The Lion in Winter,” through eight more Tony nominations and all the way to her current starring role as Mrs. Higgins in “My Fair Lady,” in the Lincoln Center Theater in New York.
It’s an honor well deserved.
Of course, Harris has accrued numerous awards, and not just on Broadway, but also in film and television. They include the Academy Award as Best Supporting Actress for her role in the 1994 film “Tom and Viv,” an Emmy Award for her 1974 role in “Notorious Woman” and a Golden Globe Award for her role in the 1978 television mini-series “Holocaust.” She’s also an inductee of the American Theatre Hall of Fame and a four-time Drama Desk Award winner.
And though it’s not exactly an award, there’s a certain segment of the population that will always remember her for her role as Aunt May in three “Spider-Man” films.
Harris belongs to the world, but she’s also been called a member of “Winston-Salem’s first family of the arts.” She’s the mother of actress Jennifer Ehle and the widow of noted novelist John Ehle, who made his own indelible mark in the arts and in education, as a founder of the UNC School of the Arts.
Those who missed the televised ceremony can still visit a hometown memorial to her talent — a plaque in Winston Square Park honoring her as one of Winston-Salem’s first Distinguished Women in the Arts.
“Winston-Salem has meant an awful lot to me,” she said during the induction ceremony last year. “It gave me John, and it gave us our daughter.”
“I am an immigrant,” she said. “I came to the U.S. in 1952 on the first Queen Mary and remember seeing the towers of New York. America and Winston-Salem have given me my life.”
She has more than returned the favor with her graciousness and talent. Congratulations to Rosemary Harris.