The Unsung Heroes of Hollywood: Jessica Harper

While we all adore and root for the stars and starlets of tinseltown, there is a treasure-trove of good men and women who have been integral to the success of all our favorite films. Bona fide, hard working and talented people who may never star in a film or see their name on a poster hanging in the local cineplex but will never escape our minds and imaginations when it comes to some good iconic and funny roles they play. This column is a tribute to the “Oh, That Guy” types, the common actor and the B-listers. They are the…


Jessica Harper

img-thingAge: 65

Number of Film & TV Roles: 20+

Notable Roles: Suspiria, Stardust Memories, Phantom of the Paradise, My Favorite Year, Inserts, Minority Report, Pennies From Heaven, Shock Treatment.

Typical Roles: Strong, confident & willful lady, love interest, singer

Why She’s Great: I’ll admit it that I’ve had a huge crush on Ms. harper ever since I saw My Favorite Year when I was younger. She’s cute as a button and has a great voice–singing and talking. She reminds me of another one of my favorites–Karen Allen and I think they could play the same roles perfectly in my opinion. I can totally see Harper playing Marion Ravenwood alongside Indiana Jones. She’s got the same spunk and tomboyish attitude I think. And comparing the ladies’ filmographies I think I enjoy more of Harper’s films (I certainly seen more that’s for sure) than Allen’s. A few years back I watched Inserts with her and Richard Dreyfuss that I must say shocked me because it was about Dreyfuss as a washed-up silent film director who is now making a living as a sleazy porn director and lo and behold Harper not only holds her own in this powerful and risqué film but I just now noticed it was her first full-length film! I highly recommend Inserts if you can. Dreyfuss, himself is fantastic. It’s funny as well as exploitative. 

But my favorite roles of Harper’s are her two horror classics, Suspiria and Phantom of the Paradise. Phantom, directed by Brian DePalma, is one of, if not, the best versions of Phantom of the Opera and being that it’s a rock n’ roll musical with original songs and music totally makes it so. I will cover more of Phantom of the Paradise this upcoming Schlocktoberfest that’s for certain. But I should mention how well Jessica sings in that film. Its quite a shame that she’s more or less, semi-retired since the 80s because she is a rare breed of talent. But with her talents she just didn’t make her mark in acting but has been busy as a writer and producer of Childrens’ music. She was even named “Parent of the Month” by Parenting Magazine in 2004! I also just learned that she has her own cookbook that I am eager to check out.

Good looks, great personality, beautiful smile and sultry voice. This gal’s got it all.

Notable Clips:

There is a shamefully lack of good clips of her on YouTube.


6 thoughts on “The Unsung Heroes of Hollywood: Jessica Harper

  1. Im a bit upset that I have only seen 2 films from Miss Harper. Suspiria and Stardust Memories. Inserts looks good, and Im surprised to see Dreyfus as a porn director. Hope he has the stash to go with it

    Liked by 1 person

    • He sure does! And above all else, go check out Phantom of the Paradise. It’s seriously a great forgotten flick! One of DePalma’s best.


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