'Nashville' and 'Freaky Friday' star Barbara Harris dead at 83

Baku, August 22, AZERTAC

Barbara Harris, the Tony Award-winning actress whose comic-neurotic charms lit up the Broadway stage and helped her steal films including "Nashville," ''Freaky Friday" and "A Thousand Clowns," has died, according to The Associated Press. She was 83.

Harris died early Tuesday of lung cancer in Scottsdale, Arizona, said close friend Charna Halpern, who co-founded the iO Theater in Chicago and had known Harris for decades.

Harris played the mother who switched bodies with Jodie Foster in the original "Freaky Friday" in 1976, the same year she starred in Alfred Hitchcock's final film, "Family Plot."

But it was Robert Altman's 1975 "Nashville" that would become her best-known film with her memorable performance of "It Don't Worry Me" in front of a shell-shocked crowd after the violent climax.

Harris had been in hospice care and remained restless and hilarious until the end, Halpern said.

She was one of the performers in the historic first cast of Chicago's Second City improvisational theater, which opened its doors in late 1959. Over a half-century it has become the proving ground for dozens of now-famous actors and comedians, from Alan Arkin and John Belushi to Tina Fey and Stephen Colbert.

"The improvisations were the thing," Harris told the Los Angeles Times. "It gave you a chance to try. If you died, you really died, but it was a great way to learn."

She made her screen debut in 1965 with "A Thousand Clowns," then got back-to-back Tony nominations in 1966 and 1967 for two hit Broadway musicals, "On a Clear Day You Can See Forever" and "The Apple Tree." She took home the Tony for "The Apple Tree," which was directed by Mike Nichols and also starred Alan Alda.

Harris also racked up an Oscar nomination as best supporting actress in the 1971 film "Who Is Harry Kellerman and Why Is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me?" It featured Harris in a memorable bit about a struggling actress who meets up with the main character, a successful but angst-ridden songwriter played by Dustin Hoffman.

While appearing in occasional regional theater productions, she concentrated mostly on film in the 1970s and '80s, when she appeared in the landmark productions of "Nashville" and "Family Plot."

She played Kathleen Turner's mother in "Peggy Sue Got Married" in 1986 and had a small role in the 1997 John Cusack film "Grosse Point Blank."

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