Harriet Sansom Harris

Harriet Sansom Harris (born January 8, 1955), often credited as Harriet Harris, is an American actress known for her theater performances and for her portrayals of Bebe Glazer on Frasier and Felicia Tilman on Desperate Housewives.

Harriet Sansom Harris
Born (1955-01-08) January 8, 1955 (age 65)
EducationJuilliard School (BFA)
Years active1977–present

Harris won a Tony Award in 2002 as a Featured Actress in a Musical for her performance in Thoroughly Modern Millie. In addition to television and theater, she has made various film appearances, including Memento, Addams Family Values, Nurse Betty and Phantom Thread.

Early lifeEdit

Harris was born in Fort Worth, Texas, one of two sisters. On her mother's side, she is a descendant of one of the brothers of Marion Sansom, a 20th-century rancher and civic leader. Sansom Park is named after him. She began acting as a youngster, attending Arlington Heights High School. She attended Fort Worth Country Day School and graduated from there in 1973.[1] At age 17, she was accepted at the Juilliard School's Drama Division (1973–77, Group 6)[2] where she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.[3]

After graduation from Juilliard, she joined John Houseman's touring repertory company The Acting Company, where she stayed for three years. During this time, she performed in productions of Shakespeare's King Lear and Romeo and Juliet, Antigone, and Mother Courage and Her Children.[4]



Harris worked extensively on and Off-Broadway, including a 1989 performance at Second Stage Theatre in What a Man Weighs . One of her breakthrough performances was in the original cast of Paul Rudnick's Jeffrey, in which she was the sole female cast member.

In 1992, Harris made her Broadway debut in Four Baboons Adoring the Sun. That same year, she was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for her portrayal in the Off-Broadway play Bella, Belle of Byelorussia. In 1993, she received a second Drama Desk nomination for her performance in Jeffrey. She won both a Drama Desk and Tony Award in 2002 as a Featured Actress in a Musical for playing the evil white slaver Mrs. Meers in Thoroughly Modern Millie.

Since 2005, Harris has appeared in various stage productions across the United States. In summer 2006, she appeared as Vera Charles in the Kennedy Center's production of Mame opposite Christine Baranski in the title role. In early 2007, Harris appeared as Amanda Wingfield in the production of The Glass Menagerie at the Guthrie Theater. In summer 2007, she appeared on Broadway in the revival of the John Van Druten comedy Old Acquaintance as Mildred Watson Drake with Margaret Colin at the American Airlines Theatre.

In 2007, Harris returned to Broadway and joined the cast of the musical Cry-Baby, based on the John Waters film of the same name. The show previewed on Broadway at the Marquis Theatre on March 15, 2008 and opened on April 24. The production was nominated for Best Musical at the 2008 Tony Awards and later closed on June 22, 2008. She returned to Broadway as the Evil Stepmother in Cinderella in 2013. In 2015, Harris took on the role as the mother of the groom-to-be (who secretly wishes that her son was gay) in the musical comedy It Shoulda Been You, sparring with Tyne Daly who played the mother of the bride-to-be. Harris played the role of Fanny, head of the Cavendish family, in the musical The Royal Family of Broadway at the Barrington Stage Company, Massachusetts, in June 2018 — July 2018.[5]


Harris's work in Jeffrey led to numerous television guest appearances, including a recurring role on the sitcom Frasier as Frasier's conniving agent Bebe Glazer from 1993 to 2004. Harris co-starred in several unsuccessful series, including The 5 Mrs. Buchanans, Union Square, The Beast, and It's All Relative, but played notable guest roles on multiple hit series, including Ghost Whisperer, Murphy Brown, Ally McBeal, Six Feet Under, Frasier and Ellen. Among them was her performance on The X-Files in the 1993 episode "Eve" as Dr. Sally Kendrick and her "Eve" clones. In 2006, she starred in the Sci-Fi Channel miniseries The Lost Room as Margaret Milne.[4]

Harris played Martha Huber's sister Felicia Tilman on the ABC drama series Desperate Housewives in 2004. The narrative saw Felicia arrive on Wisteria Lane to discover who was behind her sister's murder. She soon came to the conclusion that Paul Young was responsible, but before she could act out her revenge, she was attacked by his son Zach Young. To finish the story-line, she returned for the second season in 2005, which followed Felicia as she planned her final acts of revenge against Paul. She departed at the end of the second series by faking her own murder, framing Paul, and sending him to prison. She returned to Desperate Housewives for the series' seventh season.[6] On playing the character Harris commented:

People do find Felicia evil. I think she's just determined. She's a zealot pursuing an objective that no-one wants her to pursue. And it makes her really eccentric. And even though a man she's pursuing is the one who committed murder, he's only considered creepy by people and Felicia is always considered evil. I think that's so interesting because he's really the bad person. She's just trying to get him caught. But she is extreme. I think she doesn't stop when others would. She keeps on, she keeps pursuing and I think that is a scary thing. She just keeps scraping away until she eventually gets what she wants. And if she doesn't get it one way, she'll go around and do it another way. She's completely unapologetic about it. She doesn't care what anybody else thinks.[7]

In 2018, Harris appeared as Madelyn in the American Horror Story: Apocalypse episode "Sojourn",[8] and as Adriana in the Dynasty episode "Queen of Cups". In January 2019, Harris was cast in the Netflix drama series Ratched.[9]

Selected filmographyEdit

List of acting credits in film and television
Title Year Role Notes
CBS Summer Playhouse 1988 Lauri Stevens TV series, credited as Harriet Harris
Law & Order 1991–1992 Sheila Episode: "The Troubles"
The X-Files 1993 Sally Kendrick/Eves 6, 7, & 8 Episode: "Eve"
Frasier 1993–2004 Bebe Glazer Recurring guest star (11 episodes), appearing in each season (excluding 6 and 8)
The 5 Mrs. Buchanans 1994–1995 Vivian Buchanan 17 episodes
Romeo + Juliet 1996 Susan Santandiago (TV Gossip) Credited as Harriet Harris
Millennium 1997 Maureen Murphy Episode: "Loin Like a Hunting Flame"
Ally McBeal 1998 Cheryl Bonner Episode: "Happy Birthday, Baby"
Memento 2000 Mrs. Jankis
Nurse Betty 2000 Ellen
Six Feet Under 2002 Catherine Collins Episode: "In Place of Anger"
It's All Relative 2003–2004 Audrey O'Neil Regular role; 22 episodes
Quintuplets 2004 Ms. Hentschel Episode: "Shakespeare in Lust"
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation 2004 Eva Episode: "What's Eating Gilbert Grissom?"
Monster-in-Law 2005 Therapist
Strong Medicine 2005 Governor Barbara Curtis Episode: "It Takes a Clinic"
Sex, Love & Secrets 2005 Dulah Episode: "Danger"
Desperate Housewives 2005–2006, 2010–2011 Felicia Tilman Recurring; 28 episodes
Help Me Help You 2006 Dave's Mom Episode: "Pink Freud"
The Ghost Whisperer 2006 Marilyn Mandeville Episode: "A Grave Matter"
The Lost Room 2006 Margaret Milne Miniseries; 2 episodes
Moonlight Serenade 2009 Angelica Webster
American Dad! 2010 Mrs. Reagan (voice) Episode: "Return of the Bling"
Shake It Up 2011 Dr. Pepper Episode: "Shrink It Up"
Love is Strange 2014 Honey
Phantom Thread 2017 Barbara Rose
American Horror Story: Apocalypse 2018 Madelyn Episode: "Sojourn"
Ratched 2020 TBA Upcoming series
Atlantic Crossing 2021 TBA Upcoming series


  1. ^ Fort Worth Country Day Yearbook "Flight" 1971, 1972, 1973.
  2. ^ "Alumni News". The Juilliard School. September 2007. Archived from the original on 2011-11-11.
  3. ^ "Harriet Sansom Harris: Mrs. Sweeny on The Beast". WCHS-TV. Archived from the original on December 27, 2010. Retrieved April 2, 2012.
  4. ^ a b "Harriet Harris profile". filmreference.com. 2010. Retrieved August 11, 2010.
  5. ^ The Royal Family of Broadway barringtonstageco.org, retrieved June 5, 2018
  6. ^ Keck, William (June 30, 2010). "Keck's Exclusives: Harriet Sansom Harris to Join Mark Moses on Desperate Housewives". TV Guide. Retrieved November 13, 2018.
  7. ^ Shulman, Randy (June 8, 2006). "Harriet Harris: Stage and TV Actress Discusses Role in Mame and Frasier". Retrieved November 13, 2018 – via MetroWeekly.com.
  8. ^ "Harriet Sansom Harris play Madelyn, a Satan worshipper". PopBuzz. Retrieved January 15, 2019.
  9. ^ Swift, Andy (January 14, 2019). "Ratched: Sharon Stone, Cynthia Nixon, Finn Wittrock and More Join the Cast of Ryan Murphy's Cuckoo's Nest Prequel". TVLine. Retrieved January 14, 2019.

External linksEdit