||Viola Harris, a veteran stage and film actress, was born in New York City in July 1926. She lived and attended school in Manhattan, and since she was a young girl had always been interested in the performing arts.
Upon graduating from high school, Viola attended New York's Hunter College for undergraduate studies, and later won a scholarship to Illinois' Northwestern University where she received her Masters Degree in Theatre Arts.
After returning to New York, Viola won a second scholarship, this time to study directly under the tutelage of world-renowned actress and teacher Stella Adler an opportunity that would forever change Viola's life.
Her first professional role was an appearance on the classic CBS dramedy, The Goldbergs. It was here where Viola would meet and later marry The Goldbergs' Robert H. Harris, a character actor and Broadway star, who was also a veteran of the Yiddish Art Theatre and appeared eight times in Alfred Hitchcock's anthology television series, Alfred Hitchcock Presents.
Following their marriage, Viola and Robert moved to Los Angeles, California where they had two children and lived and worked together for 30 years. Although initially "a cultural desert,'' Mrs. Harris notes, the city's theatre scene grew rapidly and she found herself working regularly on several theatre, film, and television projects.
One of Viola's most memorable career highlights was working with the world-renowned American opera singer and stage performer, Jan Peerce, in the national tour of Fiddler on the Roof. "Knowing him was an honor," notes Harris, "and I was constantly fascinated by the stories he would share."
After nearly three decades, Viola has once again returned to live in New York City. In Fall 2008, she took a brief departure to the Philadelphia Theatre Company to star in Terrence McNally's new play, Unusual Acts of Devotion an experience which "I thoroughly enjoyed," she exclaims. The play, which co-starred Faith Prince and Richard Thomas, is in talks to come to New York sometime next year.
As for her most recent project, The Secret Friend: "The whole experience turned out to be a far more rewarding and happier experience than I ever expected," said Viola. "I was particularly impressed at how well the crew worked together; their loyalty was palpable and [the] cinematographer Adam McDaid did a really good job at holding everything together." And as for Flavio Alves, the film's director: "I have very high hopes for Flavio. He's wildly enthusiastic about what he's doing and believes fully in all of it. That's rare to find in a director. He is a lovely person and it was joy to work with him."
In her lengthy and illustrious career, Viola Harris has starred in a countless number of films, television shows, and theatre performances. Some of her most notable film credits include: Woody Allen's Deconstructing Harry, Sydney Pollack's The Slender Thread, Larry David's Sour Grapes, Clark Gregg's Choke, and Henry Bean's Noise.
On television she has been seen in Third Watch, Law & Order, Cashmere Mafia, Hope & Faith, All in the Family, As the World Turns, All My Children, and One Life To Life. She also does a host of commercials, both on and off camera.
On stage Viola Harris has appeared in Broadway's On the Town and Zelda, and in Off-Broadway's Ivanov, Bitter Friends, Waving Goodbye (Jewish Repertory Theatre), Piano Bar (Triad Theatre), I Married an Angel (Theatre in the Park), and Oh Boy! (York Theatre). She has also appeared in the national tour of Fiddler on the Roof, a Canadian tour of If We Are Women, and a revival of Charlie's Aunt. Viola's regional theatre appearances include projects at the Alliance Theatre, Arizona Civic Theatre, Luisvill Theatre, Sacramento Music Circus, Cleveland Art Park, and Darien Theatre.