Jessica Harper

Active - 1971 - 2018  |   Born - Oct 10, 1949   |   Genres - Comedy, Drama, Comedy Drama, Horror, Musical

Share on

Biography by Hal Erickson

Birdlike, wide-eyed, brunette American actress Jessica Harper headed for New York after graduation from Sarah Lawrence college; her first professional gig was an understudy in the "tribal love rock musical" Hair. It would be one of the few major financial successes that Harper would ever be associated with. The actress is considered the uncrowned queen of "cult" films, among them such esoterica as Phantom of the Paradise (1974), Inserts (1977), and The Blue Iguana (1988), in which she played a female Castro! Even when selecting a "mainstream" role, Harper's choices have been somewhat offbeat: as Steve Martin's put-upon wife in Pennies from Heaven (1981), she has a musical number in which he imagines hacking her husband to death with a knife! Harper was at her most normal, and most appealing, in the nostalgic comedy My Favorite Year (1982), in which she played the girlfriend of "Mel Brooks-ish" comedy writer Mark Linn Baker. In Stardust Memories (1980), she was one of many stellar contributors to Woody Allen's impressionistic vision of fame. Offscreen, Jessica Harper is the wife of motion picture executive Thomas E. Rothman.

Movie Highlights

See Full Filmography