Birthplace: Chicago, IL
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Actor, Author, Musician
Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Suspiria and My Favorite Year
Jessica Harper was a pretty, petite-faced actress who achieved some prominence as a movie star in the early 1980s, and has since faded to supporting and character roles. In her film career, she appeared in fewer than twenty pictures, yet several of Harper's movies are remembered as classics. Her first film was Brian De Palma early-career low-budget horror Phantom of the Paradise. Her second film was 1977's X-rated Inserts, an odd comedy (which would be rated PG or R today) about making pornography, co-starring Richard Dreyfuss and Bob Hoskins. She then had a short bit in Woody Allen's Love and Death, rattling off her long list of lovers.
In Dario Argento's Suspiria, Harper played the innocent American girl who goes to a European ballet school, built over a hellmouth of some sort. Suspiria is a masterpiece of horror, with brilliant cinematography, gaudy colors, and a brain-rattling rock and roll score. She also had prominent roles in Allen's Stardust Memories, and took Susan Sarandon's role as Janet in Shock Treatment, the ill-advised sequel to Rocky Horror Picture Show. She played Steve Martin's frigid wife in the overrated Pennies from Heaven, and her film career probably peaked when she played the object of Mark Linn-Baker's desire in the superb comedy My Favorite Year, with drunken swashbuckler Peter O'Toole.
With marriage, children, and middle age, Harper's film presence has diminished, although she still pops up in occasional character roles (most recently in Minority Report with Tom Cruise). She has also had success as an author of children's books, including I Like Where I Am, I Forgot My Shoes, and Lizzy's Ups And Downs. She has written and performed music for children, available on CD, and she was Parenting magazine's Mom of the Month in August 2004.
Harper has been married to Fox executive Tom Rothman since 1989, as he has advanced through the ranks to become studio head.
Husband: Tom Rothman (Chairman of Fox Filmed Entertainment, m. 11-Mar-1989, two daughters)
Daughter: Nora (b. 1994)
Daughter: Elizabeth (b. 1992)
Sister: Lindsay Harper duPont (artist)
University: Sarah Lawrence College
Risk Factors: Smoking
Little Women Jo March (1979)
It's Garry Shandling's Show Phoebe Bass (series 4)
FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
Minority Report (17-Jun-2002) · Anne Lively
On the Edge of Innocence (20-Apr-1997)
Mr. Wonderful (15-Oct-1993) · Funny Face
Big Man on Campus (1989)
The Blue Iguana (22-Apr-1988)
The Imagemaker (24-Jan-1986)
My Favorite Year (1-Oct-1982) · K. C. Downing
Pennies from Heaven (11-Dec-1981) · Joan
Shock Treatment (31-Oct-1981)
Stardust Memories (26-Sep-1980) · Daisy
The Evictors (18-Apr-1979) · Ruth Watkin
Love and Death (10-Jun-1975) · Natasha
Inserts (19-Feb-1975) · Cathy Cake
Phantom of the Paradise (31-Oct-1974) · Phoenix
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