Cynthia Harris, mother of “Mad About You”, dies at 87
Cynthia Harris, a versatile actress who played Paul Reiser’s assertive mother on the 1990s hit sitcom “Mad About You” and was acclaimed in the British television mini-series “Edward and Mrs. Simpson,” died Monday. at his Manhattan home. She was 87 years old.
His death was confirmed by his nephew Dan Harris.
Emmy and Golden Globe winner “Mad About You,” aired on NBC from 1992 to 1999 and was relaunched in 2019 by Spectrum Originals, a streaming site. It starred Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt as newlyweds (in the roles of Paul Buchman, a documentary director, and Jamie Stemple Buchman, a public relations specialist) who, living in Greenwich Village, must contend with frivolous and eventful barriers to marital happiness, including Paul’s bossy mother, Sylvia.
Miss Harris’ Sylvia was a recurring character on “Mad About You” for four seasons and became a regular in 1997, often bumping into Ms. Hunt’s Jamie, but also sharing warmer moments. She reprized the role in the revival. In total, Miss Harris (who preferred this honorific) appeared in 73 episodes of the sitcom.
In “Edward and Mrs. Simpson ”, a seven-part dramatization that aired in Britain in 1978 and the United States in 1979, Miss Harris played Wallis Simpson, the twice-divorced American for whom King Edward VIII, played by Edward Fox, abdicated the British throne. For her performance, she was nominated for Best Actress by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.
She made her Broadway debut in 1963 and has appeared in dozens of TV shows and movies. For 21 years, she was also artistic director and founding member of the Actors Company Theater, an off-Broadway collaboration founded in 1992 that defines itself as “a company of theater artists that reveals, recovers and reinvents great plays. literary value ”.
Cynthia Lee Harris was born on August 9, 1934 in Manhattan to Saul and Deborah Harris. His father was a haberdasher, his mother a housewife.
After graduating from Monroe High School in the Bronx in 1951, she received a degree in theater and literature from Smith College in Massachusetts. Subsequently, she worked as an assistant stage manager.
Miss Harris made her acting debut in New York City with an improv group called The Premise, then performed for eight years as a resident member of The Open Theater, an avant-garde ensemble. Her first film role was that of Mary Desti in “Isadora” (1968), based on the life of Isadora Duncan and starring Vanessa Redgrave. She also had roles in the films “Reuben, Reuben” (1983) and “Three Men and a Baby” (1987), among others.
Playing Wallis Simpson may have been Miss Harris’ closest part, but there was no shortage of roles in television, theater, and film.
She appeared on Broadway in the musical “Company” by Stephen Sondheim and George Furth in 1971 and in episodes of television shows including “Archie Bunker’s Place”, “All My Children”, “The Bob Newhart Show”, ” LA Law “,” Three’s Company “and” Court of Sirota “.
Miss Harris was familiar to radio listeners and viewers in the 1970s and 1980s as “Mrs. B ”in advertisements for the now defunct Bradlees discount department store chain.
She married theater director and producer Eugene V. Wolsk in 1961; they divorced in 1972. She is survived by her brother, Dr. Matthew Harris; and his partner, Nathan Silverstein.