Opening Night Party of "The Member of the Wedding"
@ National Portrait Gallery
DescriptionThis photograph was taken for Life magazine in the wee morning hours of January 6, 1950, and despite its sense of letdown, the picture is really all about triumph. Earlier that evening, Ethel Waters (far left) and Julie Harris (far right) had opened on Broadway in Carson McCullers's own adaptation of her novel The Member of the Wedding. By the time of the photograph, it had become clear that the play was a smash. McCullers's adaptation, wrote one reviewer, was "masterly," and Waters's performance had been "rich and eloquent." But perhaps the plaudits that meant the most went to young Harris. At first Harris could not grasp the meaning of what was happening to her as she took curtain call after curtain call for her poignant portrayal of a motherless tomboy. But as the reviews flooded in, it was clear that she had become the theater's newest star.
Gelatin Silver Print
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution