Jessica Harper (born October 10, 1949) is an American actress and producer, as well as a singer and author of children's music and books.
Harper was born in Chicago, Illinois, the daughter of Eleanor (née Emery), a writer, and Paul Church Harper, Jr., a painter and the former chairman of the Needham Harper Worldwideadvertising agency in New York. She attended the North Shore Country Day School and Sarah Lawrence College. She has three brothers including a twin brother, William Harper, a composer, Sam Harper, a screenwriter and director, Charles Harper, and two sisters, Lindsay Harper duPont and Diana Harper.
Harper has appeared in more than twenty motion pictures, most notably Dario Argento's horror classic Suspiria, My Favorite Year alongside Peter O'Toole and Mark Linn-Baker, as Phoenix in Phantom of the Paradise, as Cathy Cake in Inserts by John Byrum, and as Janet Majors in Shock Treatment, where she demonstrated great skills as a singer in the rock/pop style. She costarred with Steve Martin and Bernadette Peters in Pennies from Heaven. Woody Allen featured her in his films Stardust Memories and Love and Death. She appeared in the fourth season of It's Garry Shandling's Show and in the Steven Spielberg/Tom Cruise film Minority Report. She was most recently seen in a 2005 episode ("Forget Me Not") of the television series Crossing Jordan.
She has written eleven books for children, and made seven albums of songs for children. She was named by Parenting magazine as "Parent of the Month" in 2004. In 2000, she sang background vocals on selected tracks on the Dan Hicks and his Hot Licks album Beatin' the Heat.
In December 2010, Harper released a cookbook titled The Crabby Cook Cookbook: Recipes and Rants. In a January 2011 interview Harper said, "I thought it was high time there was a book that acknowledged that not everybody experiences the joy of cooking, that sometimes cooking for a family on a daily basis can be really irritating! This book, with 135 easy recipes, is for those people, crabby cooks like me! It’s a collection of humor, survival tips and recipes, for the kitchen-challenged!" In March 2011, she was on tour promoting her book. Stops included Chicago, where she held a "Lunch and Learn with Jessica Harper".
Harper is married to Thomas Edgar Rothman, former Co-Chairman of 20th Century Fox. She has two children, Elizabeth and Nora, who are featured on her children's albums and books.