Theresa Harris

Theresa Harris

  • Born on
    • December 31st, 1906
  • Died on
    • October 8th, 1985
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Theresa Harris (December 31, 1906 [some sources indicate 1909] – October 8, 1985) was an American film and television actress, singer and dancer. In 1929 Harris traveled to Hollywood, where she embarked on an acting career. She made her film debut in Thunderbolt, singing the song "Daddy Won't You Please Come Home". As she entered the 1930s she found herself playing maids to fictitious Southern belles, socialites and female molls. These parts were sometimes uncredited. She also floated around studios doing bit parts, usually at Warner Bros. or MGM. Aside from maids, she specialized in playing blues singers, waitresses, tribal women, prostitutes, and hatcheck girls. Harris had a featured role as a friend of Jean Harlow in MGM's Hold Your Man (1932). In 1933 she appeared as Chico in the Warner Bros. pre-Code production of Baby Face, starring Barbara Stanwyck. That same year Harris starred in a substantial role opposite Ginger Rogers in Professional Sweetheart. As Rogers' character's maid, Harris' character subs for Rogers' character as a singer on the radio. Despite the fact that Harris' character was a major point for the story's plot development, she was uncredited for the role. Throughout the 1930s, Harris played many uncredited parts in films such as Horse Feathers (1932), Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933), Mary Stevens, M.D. (1933) and Morning Glory (1933). She also played Bette Davis's maid Zette in the film Jezebel (1938). In 1937 she appeared in the race film Bargain With Bullets opposite Ralph Cooper for Million Dollar Productions. While doing promotion for the film, Harris spoke about her frustration over the difficulty African American actors faced in the film industry, stating, "I never had the chance to rise about the role of maid in Hollywood movies. My color was against me anyway you looked at it. The fact that I was not "hot" stamped me either as uppity or relegated me to the eternal role of stooge or servant....My ambition is to be an actress. Hollywood had no parts for me." Harris continued to lobby for better parts but found few opportunities within Hollywood. In the 1939 movie Tell No Tales she was credited for her part as Ruby, the wife of a murdered man. Harris played an emotional scene with Melvin Douglas at the funeral. She appears in a small but vivid role as Kathie Moffat's ex-maid Eunice Leonard in Jacques Tourneur 1947 Out of the Past. In addition to films, Harris performed in many radio programs. She was often paired with Eddie Rochester Anderson, who portrayed her on-screen boyfriend. She also appeared in several prominent roles for RKO Pictures as she was a favorite of RKO producer Val Lewton who routinely cast African American actors in non-stereotypical roles. In 1942 Lewton cast Harris as a sarcastic waitress in Cat People, followed by roles in I Walked with a Zombie (1943), Phantom Lady (1944), and Strange Illusion (1945). During the 1950s Harris appeared several times on television shows. She made her last film appearance in an uncredited role in The Gift of Love in 1958. Harris later married a doctor and retired from acting, living comfortably after having carefully invested the money she made during her career in the movies. On October 8, 1985, Harris (then known as Theresa Robinson) died in Inglewood, California.

Starring Theresa Harris on Plex


Acting (38 Credits)

1953Angel Face as Nurse Theresa (uncredited)
1953The French Line as Clare (uncredited)
1953Small Town Girl as Backstage Maid
1951The Company She Keeps
1949Tension as Woman in Drugstore (uncredited)
1949The File on Thelma Jordon as Esther
1949Neptune's Daughter as Matilda the Maid (uncredited)
1949Alias Nick Beal as Opal
1948The Velvet Touch as Nancy
1948The Big Clock as Daisy (uncredited)
1947Out of the Past as Eunice Leonard (uncredited)
1947The Lady from Shanghai as Courtroom Spectator (uncredited)
1947Miracle on 34th Street as Cleo (uncredited)
1945Strange Illusion as Maid
1944Phantom Lady as Monteiro's Maid at Casino (uncredited)
1943I Walked with a Zombie as Alma
1942Cat People as Minnie (uncredited)
1941The Flame of New Orleans as Clementine
1941Blossoms in the Dust as Cleo
1940Santa Fe Trail as Maid (uncredited)
1939The Women as Olive (uncredited)
1938Jezebel as Zette
1937Charlie Chan at the Olympics as Athlete
1934Black Moon as Sacrificed Girl (uncredited)
1934Finishing School as Evelyn (uncredited)
1933Professional Sweetheart as Vera
1933Baby Face as Chico
1933Morning Glory as (uncredited)
1933Gold Diggers of 1933 as Woman in "Pettin' in the Park" Number (uncredited)
1933Hold Your Man as Lily Mae
1933Penthouse as Lili (uncredited)
1933Private Detective 62 as Janet's Maid (Uncredited)
1932Faithless as Amanda
1932Horse Feathers as Laura - Connie's Maid (uncredited)
1932Merrily We Go to Hell as Powder Room Attendant (uncredited)
1932Union Depot as Black Woman (uncredited)
1930Morocco as Camp Follower (uncredited)
1929Thunderbolt as Singer

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