James Earl Jones and our father, George Harris II, shared the stage in The Great White Hope in 1968-69. Howard Sackler’s play won many “Best Play” awards including a Tony, the Pulitzer, and the NY Drama Critics Circle. It premiered on Broadway in 1968, carried aloft by Jones’ powerhouse portrayal of the first African American to become world heavyweight boxing champion. James enjoyed reading Caravan to Oz in his dressing room at Broadway’s Longacre Theater during the run of his latest hit, the 2014 revival of You Can’t Take it With You. During a spectacular career spanning six decades, Mr. Jones became widely known as the voice of Darth Vader in the Star Wars film franchise.
Tim Robbins The Harris girls spent much of their childhood with Tim performing at Theater for the New City in New York. Tim is an actor, screenwriter, director, producer, activist and musician. He is known for his roles as Nuke LaLoosh in Bull Durham, Jacob Singer in Jacob’s Ladder, Griffin Mill in The Player, Andy Dufresne in The Shawshank Redemption, and as Dave Boyle in Mystic River, for which he won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, and for directing critically acclaimed films such as Dead Man Walking. Tim has been the artistic director of The Actors Gang since 1982; a company that has performed over 150 plays, and has toured throughout the United States and on five continents.
John Waters, renowned filmmaker, hit it big in the 1970s with his underground classics Pink Flamingos and Polyester, starring Divine. Water’s first “Hollywood Hit Movie” was Hairspray in 1988. John is featured in The Cockettes, by David Weissman and Bill Weber, winner of the Los Angeles Film Critics Award for BEST DOCUMENTARY OF 2002, (about a psychedelic theater troupe founded by Hibiscus (George Harris III) in the fall of 1969. John is closely associated with Baltimore, Maryland, his beloved home.
CHARLES BUSCH performed with with Hibiscus and The Angels of Light in the early 1970’s in New York City. He is the author and star of such plays as The Divine Sister, Red Scare on Sunset and Vampire Lesbians of Sodom, which ran five years and is one of the longest running plays in off-Broadway history. His play The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife ran for 777 performances on Broadway and won Mr. Busch the Outer Circle Critics John Gassner Award and received a Tony nomination for Best Play. He wrote and starred in the film versions of his plays, Psycho Beach Party and Die Mommie Die, the latter of which won him the Best Performance Award at the Sundance Film Festival. In 2003, Mr. Busch received a special Drama Desk Award for career achievement as both performer and playwright. Mr. Busch made his directorial debut with the film A Very Serious Person, which premiered at the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival, where it won an honorable mention. He is also the subject of the documentary film The Lady in Question is Charles Busch.
Rumi Missabu is a legend known around the San Francisco streets as a former member of The Cockettes, a glitter-clad, hippie, drag theater troupe. In the 21st century, he has gained notoriety for his various theater performances around the world. Now is a busy time for Rumi Missabu, he is organizing performances in New York City, rehearsing for his Pearls Over Shanghai production at the Hypnodrome, and starring in his very own documentary,Ruminations. At 65 years old, Rumi is certainly not slowing down.
ANDREA SIMMONS is a producer, writer, and entertainer living in New York. Inspired by the Harris family’s journey for many years, she is thrilled that their incredible story can be shared in this beautiful book!
Andrea has been called many things – Giggle Strategist. Journalist. World’s First Shy Publicist. Event Attaché. Comedy Talk Show Devotee. Minion. Only Child. Highly Allergic. Just don’t call her Cindy, because that would be ridiculous! She is the CEO of Prince Street Entertainment, a creative consulting, producing and public relations firm. Focusing on developing uplifting, informative and engaging content, PSE works with both established and up-and-coming talent, in the fields of comedy, talk show, journalism, film, music and lifestyle industries. Following a childhood devoted to theater and commercial work, she pushed herself out of the nest and headed to the Big Apple to chase her dream of working in comedy and interview programming. Ms. Simmons feels incredibly fortunate to have realized her dream many times over, having had the opportunity to work for Late Show with David Letterman, The Paley Center For Media, Anderson Live!, The Friars Club Comedy Film Festival, Warner Bros. Pictures, The Emmys (NATAS), NYC PodFest, in addition to guest hosting in radio and serving as a freelance journalist, among others. In 2010, Ms. Simmons was a contributing writer/performer for a sketch on The Colbert Report. She is currently co-producing programming for author & humorist, A. J. Jacobs’ Global Family Reunion, yet another dream come true! She aspires to one day become the world’s oldest child prodigy.
Andrew Martin (actor, singer, journalist, playwright, comedian, radio personality) is a native New Yorker who grew up in an entertainment family not much unlike the Harrises, of whom he’s always been a fan. His first professional engagement came as a fifteen-year-old in the summer of 1984 as a founding member of the TADA! Youth Theater, and year later assumed several roles in the street theater production of Man Of Wax with Theater for the New City. After a few seasons as a drag artist and cabaret vocalist of some renown, he shifted gears slightly to also become an entertainment journalist and radio personality, while continuing to pursue work on stages and in front of the camera. His first book, All for the Best: How Godspell Transferred From Stage to Screen, was published by BearManor Media in late 2011.
La MaMa archiving team (Julie on the left, Rachel in the middle–she’s the project’s manager–and Suzanne on the right) with Caravan to Oz. The La MaMa Archives houses records that chronicle the theater’s 50-plus-year institutional history, and documents the development of Off-Off-Broadway theater; queer, African American, Asian American, Native American, Latino and international theater forms; and experimental theater practices of various kinds. It contains approximately 10,000 unique items in a range of formats, including posters, programs, scripts, costumes, puppets, masks, musical instruments, correspondence, photographs, and audiovisual materials. All archived materials are beautifully coordinated and presented by La MaMa’s Archive Director, Ozzie Rodriguez.
Magie Dominic is a Canadian poet, author, and artist who was born in Corner Brook, Newfoundland. Her first memoir, The Queen of Peace Room, was shortlisted for the Canadian Women’s Studies Award, ForeWord magazine’s Book of the Year Award, and the Judy Grahn Award. Occurring over a week-long retreat at an isolated retreat house, The Queen of Peace Room is an exploration of memory and of violence against women and children. A second memoir, Street Angel, is set in Newfoundland in the 1950s, but ranges over a 70 period involving the same protagonist and her family. Magie and the Harris family met at the Caffe Cino. Magie Dominic website: Magie Dominic
Robert Heide is a prolific playwright and author. his plays include The Bed and Moon at the Caffe Cino; Why Tuesday Never Has a Blue Monday at La MaMa; Tropical Fever in Key West and Crisis of Identity at Theater for the New City to name a few. The Bed was filmed by Andy Warhol (his first split-screen), and Bob wrote Lupe for Warhol to direct with Edie Sedgwick. http://robertheideandjohngilman.blogspot.com
John Gilman – actor, author – has appeared in many off-off-Broadway productions. John, along with co-author Robert Heide, has written articles for periodicals like The Village Voice, Oklahoma Today and many other publications. They are authors of many pop culture books and books on New Jersey. The two were also interviewed by Katie Couric for their book, Disneyana, on the Today show. http://robertheideandjohngilman.blogspot.com
Robert I Rubinsky (my friends call me Robert I) first auditioned for the Ted Mack Amateur Hour at age 14 but bombed – however, five years later at age 19, he was in the opening night Broadway cast of HAIR. It’s been pretty up and down since then. 47 years after the Broadway opening, Robert I just performed in ‘Hair – Retrospection’ at Kansas City Rep. In between he has been Herod in Jesus Christ Superstar, worked as a guinea pig for drug testing, stared as Bobby the Middle Aged Celebrity late night off-Broadway (directed by original Hair alum, Natalie Mosco ) and worked as a lifeguard in the long defunct Platos Retreat while doing stints at LaMama, CBGS, and Studio 54. He has seen New York transform into this new city that often doesn’t make sense to him.
Timothy Bellavia is an Assistant Professor in the Graduate Division of General & Special Education and the Teacher Residency Program. Bellavia earned his M.F.A. from Pratt Institute and in 1997 received a Fellowship Grant to attend the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. He is the author several children’s picture books including the award winning We Are All The Same Inside ® and it’s accompanying doll-making workshop that was initially presented on the International Day of Tolerance at the United Nations. The New York City Department of Education realized the value of the curriculum and awarded Mr. Bellavia’s T.I.M.M.E. Company a contract. This contract has allowed Bellavia to amplify the mission to teach tolerance to New York City’s school children and throughout the world while integrating the arts into the literacy curriculum. Over the past decade, Timothy has collaborated with several non-profit organizations including: Sesame Workshop, Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation, and Girl Scouts of America, among others. His most recent research projects and international presentations include studies on effects of microaggressions.
CRYSTAL FIELD – OBIE Award winning actress Crystal Field is co-founder and Artistic Director of Theater for the New City. Theater for the New City was one of the Harris Family’s early theatrical homes. TNC has also nurtured the talents of Sam Shepard, Maria Irene Fornes, Romulus Linney, Richard Foreman, Lee Breuer, Miguel Piñero, Charles Busch, Moises Kaufman, Vin Diesel, Adrien Brody, Eduardo Machado, Jean-Claude van Itallie, Tim Robbins and every member of The Harris Family. Ms. Field is the director, author and choreographer of TNC’s award-winning 5-Borough Annual Free Summer Street Theater Program. Other performances include her work in BIRDY, SPLENDOR IN THE GRASS, RADIO DAYS, LITTLE CHILDREN, LAW & ORDER and most recently, THE RAFT, with Ed Asner.
David Weissman is an Emmy Award nominated filmmaker, teacher, film programmer, public speaker and longtime activist. He is best known as producer of the acclaimed documentaries, We Were Here (2011) and The Cockettes (2002). Both premiered at Sundance. We Were Here was released theatrically, and broadcast internationally – in the US on the PBS series Independent Lens. We Were Here was on the shortlist for the 2012 Academy Award for Best Documentary. The Cockettes was also released theatrically, broadcast on Sundance Channel and BBC, and received the Los Angeles Film Critics Award for Best Documentary of 2002. Both films received nominations for Independent Spirit Awards for Best Documentary of the Year.
Jim Gossage – Much of my free time during the second half of 1960s was spent photographing theater productions at Caffe Cino, Cafe La MaMa E. T. C. and a few other venues in Manhattan.
My first sight of Walter Michael Harris was with a blanket draped over his shoulders introducing the family/action in Lanford Wilson’s “The Sandcastle” directed by Marshall W. Mason. Quite certain I first saw his father George II in Myrtlilus by Edward de Grazia, from which I remember his ability for visual humor.
Got acquainted with George II’s wife Ann and their daughter Jayne Anne Harris, joining them while watching and photographing the “Spring Fest 66” or “Spring Horror Show” that replaced “The Death Of Tintagiles”, by Maurice Maeterlinck in which Jayne had a role. The run was cut short (short run details are in “Caravan To Oz”) by a laughing Harry Koutoukas and it was replaced by evenings of many ‘skits’ written and presented by regulars at Caffe Cino.
George III, Fred, Eloise and Mary Lou, siblings of Walter Michael and Jayne Anne, I met when George III (Hibiscus) and Walter Michael Harris asked me to photograph a rehearsal of “There Is Method In Their Madness” which ‘The Eldorado Players’ that included all the Harris Children were doing at Cafe La MaMa E. T. C. and ‘Sixteen’ magazine planned an article on George III. Photos never made it to ‘Sixteen’ but some are in “Caravan To Oz”.
Robert Patrick is a playwright, poet, lyricist, short story writer and novelist. His plays include the Broadway hit Kennedy’s Children, as well as Camera Obscura, The Haunted Host, and T-Shirts. His novel, Temple Slave, fictionalizes the early days of off-off Broadway. Recently he has become a performer on many stages in Los Angeles, where he lives. Bob’s impressive history of the Caffe Cino can be found here: https://caffecino.wordpress.com/
Peaches Christ is a performer, emcee, filmmaker, and actor who resides in San Francisco where her Backlash Production Company and Midnight Mass movie series are based. On Peaches Christ blog is a wonderful piece about George Harris III aka Hibiscus written by Michael Varrati : Drag Dossier #2 Hibiscus
On September 7, 2007, the San Francisco de Young Museum hosted a “Decade of Peaches Christ Retrospective” called Cattychism featuring artistic contributions inspired by Peaches. The event included ten years of costume design by long-time collaborator Tria Connell and ten years of graphic design by artist Chris Hatfield.
Barry McGuire, prolific singer, songwriter, storyteller and truth-seeker, enjoys sharing our truth in “Caravan to Oz.” He and Walter Michael Harris became friends working together in “HAIR” on Broadway in 1968-69. Barry first came to prominence as lead singer for The New Christie Minstrels in the early 1960s. “Eve of Destruction,” his #1 hit in 1965, is among Rolling Stone’s Top 10 Protest Songs of All Time. For nearly 5 decades Barry has shared his unique style of folk and gospel music blended with heartwarming stories. Currently on tour with special guest P.F.Sloan, Barry’s schedule/career info can be found at www.trippinthesixties.com
Alexander Bartenieff is a life long friend of The Harris Family. He has been performing with Theater for the New City (TNC) in New York since the age of 5. He is a leading company member and Crew Chief for TNC’s award-winning street theater touring company. He has also been a lead teaching artist for TNC’s Afterschool Arts-In-Education program. Currently, he is TNC’s Resident Lighting Director and Resident Lighting Designer. He has designed many shows for TNC, and also for La MaMa and the Cherry Lane Theatre.
David Loehr (left) former cast member of The Angels of light in NYC, grew up on a farm in Western Massachusetts, studied graphic design at Parson’s School of Design in New York, and attended the Lester Polokov School for Stage Design. In 1974 a friend gave him the book, James Dean: The Mutant King by David Dalton. David read the book while travelling from New York to California, where he lived for five years in Pasadena. While in California, he saw all three of Dean’s major films on the big screen for the first time, and was knocked out by Dean’s performances.
The James Dean Memorial Gallery was established in 1988 in the actor’s hometown and final resting place of Fairmount, Indiana. This extensive exhibit is the private collection of James Dean archivist David Loehr, who began collecting in 1974. Lenny Prussack (right) is manager of the wonderful James Dean Memorial Gallery. The collection is housed in a beautifully restored 1890 Victorian home, located on tree-lined North Main Street in downtown Fairmount. The exhibit consists of literally thousands of items of James Dean memorabilia and gives visitors the opportunity to see the worldwide impact that this Indiana native and American film star has made.