Julie Harris, the unprepossessing anti-diva who, in the guises of Joan of Arc, Mary Todd Lincoln, Emily Dickinson and many other characters both fictional and real, became the most decorated performer in the history of Broadway, died on Saturday at her home in Chatham, Mass. 



She was 87. The cause was not immediately known, said Francesca James, a longtime friend who was with her when she died. 

Ms. Harris had a lengthy, overstuffed résumé as an actress, with dozens of movie and television credits, including the 1955 film adaptation of John Steinbeck’s novel of brotherly rivalry, “East of Eden,” in which she played the girl who falls for the tormented younger sibling played by James Dean, and nearly eight years in the 1980s as an eccentric country singer on the prime time soap opera “Knots Landing.” But perhaps more than any other performer of her era and her elevated stature, she owed her stardom and reputation to the stage. 

Sometimes called the first lady of the American theater, she made her first Broadway appearance while she was still in college, and over the next half century-plus earned 10 Tony nominations, more than any other performer. The last was in 1997 for a revival of “The Gin Game,” D. L. Coburn’s mordant comedy about the contentious friendship between two isolated denizens of an old age home that emerges over a card table. She didn’t win, though she’d been there and done that five times, the first performer to be so honored so often. Angela Lansbury and Audra McDonald have since matched this total, but in 2002, Ms. Harris won for the sixth time, a special Tony for lifetime achievement, putting her in a class by herself.