Born: June 1, 1977 · Plainview, Long Island, New York, USA
Birth name: Danielle Andrea Harris
Height: 4′ 11″ (1.50 m)
Danielle Harris is an American actress and film director from Plainview, New York. She is regarded as a scream queen for her many roles in horror films. Her better known roles include protagonist Jamie Lloyd in “Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers” (1988) and “Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers” (1989), and “final girl” Annie Brackett in “Halloween” (2007) and “Halloween II” (2009). As a voice actress in animation, Harris is primarily known for voicing 16-year-old Debbie Thornberry in the fantasy animated series “The Wild Thornberrys” (1998-2004).
In 1977, Harris was born in a Jewish family of Plainview, New York. Plainview is a hamlet of Long Island with a large Jewish population. The hamlet is named because its location offered a clear view over the Hempstead Plains. Harris’ family soon moved to Florida, where Harris received part of her primary education.
While still in elementary school, Harris won a beauty contest for children. She was consequently offered various modeling jobs, but initially had to turn down these offers. The modeling gigs would require long-distance travel, which she could not afford at the time. When her family moved to New York City, Harris started working as a child model. She also began to regularly appear in television commercials.
In 1985, Harris joined the cast of the long-running soap opera “One Life to Live” (1968-2012) in her first acting role. She played the part of “miracle child” Samantha “Sammi” Garretson. Her character was extracted as an embryo from the womb of her recently deceased mother Samantha Vernon and implanted in family friend Delilah Ralston, with her birth considered miraculous by the other characters. Harris continued playing Samantha until 1987, when the character was written out of the series. Afterwards, Harris started making guest star appearances in other television series.
Harris auditioned for the role of child protagonist Jamie Lloyd for the horror film “Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers” (1988), competing against several other child actresses. She won the role and made her film debut at the age of 11. In the film series “Halloween”, serial killer Michael Myers was initially obsessed with attempts to kill his younger sister Laurie Strode (played by Jamie Lee Curtis). In the fourth film, Michael awakes from a coma and learns that Laurie died in an unrelated traffic accident. He decides to instead hunt down Laurie’s daughter Jamie Lloyd, who is his sole living relative. The film also focuses on Jamie’s relationship with her foster sister Rachel Carruthers (played by Ellie Cornell). Its finale hints that Jamie has a dark side of her own and is following in Michael’s footsteps.
The fourth “Halloween” film only earned about 18 million dollars at the box office, but gained a cult following due to its cast of interesting female characters. Harris played Jamie again in the direct sequel “Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers” (1989). In the film, the minds of Jamie and Michael are linked through telepathy. It was the first “Halloween” film to introduce elements of supernatural horror, and was considered controversial by the series’ fans. The film earned only about $12 million at the box office, though Harris was praised for her acting skills. The “Halloween” series went on a hiatus for several years following the release of this film.
Harris’ next film project was the action film “Marked for Death” (1990). She played Tracey Hatcher, niece of retired Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent John Hatcher (played by Steven Seagal). In the film, John’s family is repeatedly threatened and attacked by employees of a drug lord who wants revenge against John, and styles himself as a user of black magic. The film was a surprise box office hit, earning $58 million at the worldwide box office. It was the highest-grossing film in Harris’ career up to that point.
Harris had a substantial role in the television film “Don’t Touch My Daughter” (1991), as a kidnapped damsel-in-distress. Her next major film project was the black comedy “Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead” (1991). She played Melissa Crandell, a 12-year-old tomboy. In the film, 5 siblings are supposed to spend their entire summer vacation under the care of an elderly babysitter. When the old woman dies in her sleep, they decide to cover-up her death, to take control of her car, and to start living on their own. The leader of the siblings in this film was played by Christina Applegate. The film performed modestly well at the box office, but gained more success in the home video market.
Harris returned to the action genre with the action comedy “The Last Boy Scout” (1991). She played Darian Hallenbeck, the rebellious daughter of private detective Joseph Cornelius “Joe” Hallenbeck (played by Bruce Willis). In the film, Joe is implicated in the murders of his ex-partner and a female client. While trying to clear his name, Joe learns that he is about to be framed for the assassination of a senator. He sets out to prevent this assassination, though the senator in question is one of his old enemies. The film earned $114.5 million at the worldwide box office and was credited with reviving Willis’ career.
In 1992, Harris joined the cast of the sitcom Roseanne (1988-1997). She played the recurring character of Molly Tilden, the promiscuous daughter of supporting character Ty Tilden (played by Wings Hauser). Molly was depicted as a frenemy to main character Darlene Conner (played by Sara Gilbert). They hanged out together but frequently argued, and they soon realized that they were competing over the same potential boyfriend. Subplots involving Molly included her relationship with her older sister (and mother figure) Charlotte Tilden (played by Mara Hobel), and her habitual use of marijuana. Molly was written out of the series in 1993. Harris would later play Molly again in the sequel series “The Conners” (2018-), in an episode depicting Molly as a dying cancer patient.
Harris played the runaway girl Gwenie in the drama film “Free Willy” (1993). The film focused on the growing bond between a troubled orphan boy and a captive orca at an ailing amusement park. The film had a worldwide gross of about $154 million, and turned animal actor Keico the orca (1976 – 2003) into a popular star. The film had three sequels, but Harris was not involved with these film projects.
For the next couple of years, Harris was limited to playing only minor television roles. She entered negotiations to reprise the role of Jamie Lloyd in the sequel “Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers” (1995), but eventually declined to play the part. The character of Jamie only had limited screen time in the film and the salary offered for the role was below Harris’ expectations. The role was instead played by J. C. Brandy.
In 1995, Harris made the news for her personal life. She was being stalked by obsessed fan Christopher Small, who frequently mailed death threats to her. Small was arrested after he arrived at her home with a shotgun. Several years later, Small started harassing Harris online. In 2009, Harris was granted a restraining order against Small.
In 1996, Harris co-starred with Katherine Heigl in the fantasy-themed television film “Wish Upon a Star”. Harris played science nerd Hayley Wheaton, who is secretly envious of the supposedly perfect life of her older sister Alexia Wheaton (played by Heigl). The girls experience body swapping following a wish, and get to experience each other’s life first hand. Hayley soon finds out that Alexia had a dysfunctional relationship with her female friends, and a rather poor relationship with her boyfriend. The life she just inherited is far from perfect. The film was one of several popular television films produced by the Disney Channel.
Harris returned to the action genre with the film “Back to Back”. (1996). She played Chelsea Malone, daughter of disgraced ex-cop Bob Malone (played by Michael Rooker). She tries to raise bail money for her father, who was arrested for executing a gang of bank robbers in an episode of intense rage. But father and daughter instead find themselves hostages of a Yakuza member who is trying to flee Los Angeles. All three are soon on the run from both the local Mafia and from crooked cops. The film was marketed as a sequel to the crime film “American Yakuza” (1993), but their only similarities were depictions of conflicts between the Mafia and the Yakuza.
Harris had a supporting role in the disaster film “Daylight” (1996), which featured an accidental explosion and a consequent tunnel cave-in in the vicinity of New York City. Harris played teenager Ashley Crighton, one of several survivors who tried to find a way out of the collapsed tunnel. The film earned $159.2 million at the worldwide box office, and its sound editors were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Sound Editing.
Harris’ next film project was the slasher film “Urban Legend” (1998), her first appearance in a horror film since the late 1980s. The film featured a series of murders within the campus of a private university in New England, with each murder styled after an urban legend. Harris played Tosh Guaneri, a goth girl who was strangled to death within her own room. Tosh’s sleeping roommate later claimed that she never heard any disturbance during the night of the murder., The film earned $72.5 million at the worldwide box office, and it was followed by two sequels. The film is credited with starting a trend of horror films which took inspiration from multiple urban legends.
In 1998, Harris was cast in the role of Debbie Thornberry in the fantasy animated series “The Wild Thornberrys” (1998-2004). It was the first time that she was part of the main cast in a series. The series featured the Thornberrys, a British family of modern-day nomads who traveled the world in order to film nature documentaries. The youngest daughter, Eliza Thornberry (voiced by Lacey Chabert), was secretly granted the ability to communicate with animals by an African shaman. She tried to keep this secret from her family, though her older sister Debbie is eventually let in on the secret. The two sisters have a love-hate relationship with each other, but each of them tries to defend the other sister from danger. The series lasted for 5 seasons and 91 episodes. Harris also voiced Debbie in the animated film “The Wild Thornberrys Movie” (2002) and the crossover film “Rugrats Go Wild” (2003). The series was one of the most popular television projects created by the animation studio Klasky Csupo, and provided Harris with a share of the spotlight for several years.
Harris had a supporting role in the crime comedy film “Poor White Trash” (2000). In the film, two teenagers from lower-class backgrounds start working together in heists in order to finance their college education. But their plans clash with those of their manipulative and opportunistic relatives, who each have agendas of their own. And the duo start hanging out with various local eccentrics in the process of their criminal plans. The film was noted for its ensemble cast, though the casting of 23-year-old Jaime Pressly in the role of of a scheming step-grandmother was regarded as the film’s main appeal at the time.
In the autumn of 2000, Harris joined the main cast of the comedy-drama series “That’s Life” (2000-2002). The series depicted life in the working-class suburbs of Newark, New Jersey. Harris played Plum Wilkinson, the girlfriend (and later wife) of police officer Paulie DeLucca (played by Kevin Dillon) and the close friend and college classmate of Paulie’s sister Lydia DeLucca (played by Heather Paige Kent). The series was well-received by critics, but suffered from poor ratings throughout its run. It lasted for 2 seasons and 36 episodes. Its abrupt ending reportedly left several of its subplots unresolved.
In 2004, Harris became part of the main cast on the adult animated sitcom “Father of the Pride” (2004-2005). The main characters were anthropomorphic white lions, and Harris was cast as 16-year-old lioness Sierra. Her character was depicted as a rebellious teenager, who was frustrated by her inept parents. A subplot involving Sierra was that her boyfriend Dean was an older male, who already had children from a previous relationship. The series lasted for a single season and 14 episodes. While it started with strong ratings, the series’ ratings rapidly declined during its run. The series won an Annie Award for its character design, which was considered unique.
During the following few years, Harris herself considered her career to have declined as she was offered no major roles in either film or television. When she heard of an upcoming remake of the original “Halloween” film, she decided to audition for a role. Rob Zombie, the film’s director, was initially not interested in casting people who had participated in any of the older films in the series. He was, however, sufficiently impressed with Harris’ audition to cast her in the role of Annie Brackett. Annie was a relatively minor character in the original “Halloween” film (where she was played by Nancy Kyes), but was she was re-imagined as one of the main characters in the remake. After capturing Annie, Mike Myers decides to torture her instead of killing her. She survives the events of the film. Harris’ role required her to perform her first nude scene, and she noted in an interview that she felt more vulnerable than ever before.
“Halloween” (2007) was released to great success, and earned $80.4 million at the worldwide box office. It was at that time the highest-grossing film in the entire film series. As Harris had hoped, the film helped revive her career and she started being considered a potential asset to horror films. Among her next few projects were the fantasy horror film “The Black Waters of Echo’s Pond” (2009), the slasher film “Blood Night: The Legend of Mary Hatchet” (2009), and the superhero comedy “Super Capers” (2009). “Blood Night” was the first time that Harris played the main villain in a film.
Also in 2009, Harris played Annie Brackett in the sequel “Halloween II”. Annie was depicted as Laurie Strode’s housemate, scarred due to previous torture but mentally stable in comparison to the traumatized Laurie. Michael Myers eventually kills Annie, which leads to the further deterioration of Laurie’s sanity. The film earned only $39.5 million at the worldwide box office, and it was seen as far more brutal than the previous films in the series.
During the 2010s, Harris further established her reputation as a scream queen with many horror-themed roles. Among her most notable appearances was playing recurring character Marybeth Dunston in two films of the “Hatchet” film series. Harris replaced Tamara Feldman, who had originally portrayed the character. In 2013, Harris directed the horror comedy “Among Friends”. This was her directorial debut.
In 2013, Harris was engaged to her boyfriend David Gross. In January 2014, the couple had a private wedding ceremony in Holualoa, Hawaii. Harris was 36-years-old at the time of her wedding, and she had no previous marriages or engagements. She had her first son in 2017, and a second son in 2018. In 2019, Harris played a member of the Manson Family in the historical film “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”, a film depiction of the Tate murders (1969).
Harris has had relatively few new roles in the early 2020s. She maintains a large fan following due to her previous roles. By 2022, Harris was 45-year-old. She has been an actress for most of her life, and seems to have no plans to retire yet. She has stated in interviews that despite several difficulties in her career over the years, she has managed to never quit trying. This determination has helped her endure in show business for decades.
– IMDb Mini Biography By: Dimos I