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Opening Night Party of "The Member of the Wedding"

Opening Night Party of "The Member of the Wedding"
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Ruth Orkin, 3 Sep 1921 - Jan 1985
Ethel Waters, 31 Oct 1896 - 1 Sep 1977
Carson Smith McCullers, 1917 - 1967
Julie Harris, 2 Dec 1925 - 24 Aug 2013
Gelatin silver print
Image/Sheet: 18.3 x 23.9cm (7 3/16 x 9 7/16")
Mat: 35.6 x 45.7cm (14 x 18")
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Restrictions & Rights
Usage conditions apply
© Ruth Orkin
Object number
Exhibition Label
This 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.
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
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National Portrait Gallery Collection