Hal Holbrook

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Hal Holbrook
Hal Holbrook and Dixie Carter at the 41st Emmy Awards.jpg
Holbrook and Dixie Carter at the 41st Emmy Awards, 1990
BornHarold Rowe Holbrook, Jr.
(1925-02-17) February 17, 1925 (age 89)
Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
ResidenceBeverly Hills, California,
McLemoresville, Tennessee
NationalityAmerican
EducationCulver Academies
Alma materDenison University
OccupationActor
Years active1954–present
Notable work(s)Mark Twain Tonight
Into the Wild
The Fog
All the President's Men
Wall Street
Water for Elephants
Fletch Lives
Magnum Force
The Star Chamber
Capricorn One
The Firm
Girls Nite Out
Home townSouth Weymouth, Massachusetts
Spouse(s)Ruby Holbrook
(1945–1965)
Carol Eve Rossen (1966–1979)
Dixie Carter
(1984–2010; her death)
ChildrenThree
 
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Hal Holbrook
Hal Holbrook and Dixie Carter at the 41st Emmy Awards.jpg
Holbrook and Dixie Carter at the 41st Emmy Awards, 1990
BornHarold Rowe Holbrook, Jr.
(1925-02-17) February 17, 1925 (age 89)
Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
ResidenceBeverly Hills, California,
McLemoresville, Tennessee
NationalityAmerican
EducationCulver Academies
Alma materDenison University
OccupationActor
Years active1954–present
Notable work(s)Mark Twain Tonight
Into the Wild
The Fog
All the President's Men
Wall Street
Water for Elephants
Fletch Lives
Magnum Force
The Star Chamber
Capricorn One
The Firm
Girls Nite Out
Home townSouth Weymouth, Massachusetts
Spouse(s)Ruby Holbrook
(1945–1965)
Carol Eve Rossen (1966–1979)
Dixie Carter
(1984–2010; her death)
ChildrenThree

Harold Rowe "Hal" Holbrook, Jr. (born February 17, 1925) is an American actor. His television roles include Abraham Lincoln in the 1976 TV series Lincoln, Hays Stowe on The Bold Ones: The Senator and Capt. Lloyd Bucher on Pueblo. He is also known for his role in the 2007 film Into the Wild, for which he was nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award and an Academy Award. He has also performed a one-man show as Mark Twain since 1954.

Early life[edit]

Holbrook was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the son of Aileen (Davenport) Holbrook, a vaudeville dancer, and Harold Rowe Holbrook, Sr.[1] After being abandoned by his parents at age two, he and his two sisters were raised by his paternal grandparents,[citation needed] first in South Weymouth, Massachusetts, and then in the Cleveland suburb of Lakewood. He graduated from the Culver Academies and Denison University, where an honors project about Mark Twain led him to develop the one-man show for which he is best known, a series of performances called Mark Twain Tonight (for which he won both a Tony and a Drama Desk Award).[2] Holbrook served in the U.S. Army in World War II and was stationed in Newfoundland, where he performed in theatre productions such as the play Madam Precious.

His sister, June MacPherson (nee Holbrook), lived in Cornwall, Ontario, Canada, throughout her life. She died in Long Sault, Ontario, Canada on January 11, 2014, at the age of 90.[3]

Career[edit]

According to Playbill, Holbrook's first solo performance as Twain was at Lock Haven State Teachers College in Pennsylvania in 1954. Ed Sullivan saw him and gave Holbrook his first national exposure on his February 12, 1956, show. Holbrook was also a member of the Valley Players (1941–1962), a summer stock theater company based in Holyoke, Massachusetts which performed at Mountain Park Casino Playhouse at Mountain Park. He was a member of the cast for several years and performed Mark Twain Tonight as the 1957 season opener.[4] The State Department even sent him on a European tour, which included pioneering appearances behind the Iron Curtain. In 1959 Holbrook first played the role Off-Broadway. Columbia Records recorded an LP of excerpts from the show.

Holbrook performed in a special production for the New York World's Fair (1964, 1965) for the Bell Telephone Pavilion.[5] Jo Mielziner created an innovative audio-visual ride experience and utilized Hal's acting talents on 65 different action screens for "The Ride Of Communications" with the movie itself known as "From Drumbeats to Telstar".

In 1967, Mark Twain Tonight was presented on television by CBS and Xerox, and Holbrook received an Emmy for his performance. Holbrook's Twain first played on Broadway in 1966, and again in 1977 and 2005; Holbrook was 80 years old during his most recent Broadway run, older (for the first time) than the character he was portraying. Holbrook won a Tony Award for the performance in 1966. Mark Twain Tonight has repeatedly toured the country in what, as of 2005, has amounted to over 2000 performances. He has portrayed Twain longer than Samuel Langhorne Clemens did.[6]

In 1964, Holbrook played the role of the Major in the original production of Arthur Miller's Incident at Vichy. In 1968 he was one of the replacements for Richard Kiley in the original Broadway production of Man of La Mancha, although he had limited singing ability.

Holbrook as the Stage Manager in the 1977 TV adaptation of the play Our Town.

Holbrook co-starred with Martin Sheen in the controversial and acclaimed 1972 television movie That Certain Summer said to be the first television movie to portray homosexuality in a sympathetic, non-judgmental light. In 1973, Holbrook appeared as Lieutenant Neil Briggs, the boss and rival of Detective Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood) in Magnum Force, an "obsessively neat and prim fanatic" who supports the obliteration of San Francisco's criminals and who is the leader of a rogue group of vigilante officers.[7][8] In 1976 Holbrook won acclaim for his portrayal of Abraham Lincoln in a series of television specials based on Carl Sandburg's acclaimed biography. He has also starred in many films and TV programs. He won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for the 1970 series The Bold Ones: The Senator. In 1979 he starred, with Katharine Ross, Barry Bostwick and Richard Anderson, in the made-for-TV movie, Murder by Natural Causes. Holbrook also had a major role on the sitcom Evening Shade throughout its entire run.

Early in his career Holbrook worked onstage and in a television soap opera, The Brighter Day. He is also famous for his role as the enigmatic Deep Throat (whose identity was unknown at the time) in the film All the President's Men. Holbrook appeared as a featured guest star in a 2006 episode of the HBO series The Sopranos and the NCIS episode "Escaped".

Holbrook was the narrator on the Ken Burns documentary Lewis & Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery in 1997.

Holbrook appeared on Fisher Investments' infomercials.

President George W. Bush and Laura Bush pose for a photo with Holbrook (center), a recipient of the National Humanities Medal in the Oval Office on November 14, 2003.

In 1999, Holbrook was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame.[9]

In 2000, Holbrook appeared in Men of Honor where he portrayed a racist and hypocritical officer who endlessly tries to fail an African-American diver trainee.

He appeared in Sean Penn's critically acclaimed film Into the Wild (2007) and received an Oscar nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role at the 80th Academy Awards. This renders Holbrook, at age 82, the oldest nominee in Academy Award history in the Best Supporting Actor category. On December 20, 2007, Holbrook was nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award for his work in the film. In late August 2007 through mid-September he starred as the narrator in the Hartford Stage production of Thornton Wilder's Our Town, a role he had once played on television.

Holbrook appeared with wife Dixie Carter in That Evening Sun, filmed in East Tennessee in the summer of 2008. The film was produced by Dogwood Entertainment (a subsidiary of DoubleJay Creative) and is based on a short story by William Gay. That Evening Sun premiered in March 2009 at South By Southwest, where it received the Audience Award for Narrative Feature and a special Jury Prize for Ensemble Cast. Joe Leydon of Variety hailed Hollbrook's performance in the film as a "career-highlight star turn as an irascible octogenarian farmer who will not go gentle into that good night."[10] That Evening Sun also was screened at the 2009 Nashville Film Festival, where Holbrook was honored with a special Lifetime Achievement Award, and the film itself received another Audience Award.[11] On April 22, 2010, Holbrook signed on to portray Katey Sagal's character's father on the FX original series Sons of Anarchy for a four-episode arc in their third season. He also had a multi-episode arc on The Event, an American television series, airing on NBC in the 2010–2011 season.

Holbrook's latest films are Water for Elephants (2011), Steven Spielberg's Lincoln (2012), and Gus Van Sant's Promised Land (2012).[12]

Personal life[edit]

Holbrook has been married three times and has three children. He married Ruby Holbrook on September 22, 1945, and they had two children, Victoria Holbrook and David Holbrook. They divorced in 1965, and on December 28, 1966, he married Carol Eve Rossen. They had one child, Eve Holbrook, and they divorced on June 14, 1983.

He married Dixie Carter on May 27, 1984. Architect Hoyte Johnson of Atlanta redesigned Carter's family home and created an environment that the couple shared with family and friends. Holbrook has said that the home has the "feel" of the Mark Twain House in Hartford, Connecticut, and that there is no other place to which he feels so ideally suited. Holbrook and Carter remained married until her death on April 10, 2010.[13] Holbrook had a recurring role on his wife's hit sitcom Designing Women, appearing in nine episodes between 1986 and 1989 as Carter's on-screen significant other.

Holbrook grew to love Dixie's home in McLemoresville, Tennessee, and continues to retreat there from the busy life on the road and in Hollywood. The local community responded by building the Dixie Theatre for Performing Arts in nearby Huntington, Tennessee, which features the Hal Holbrook Auditorium.

Filmography[edit]

YearTitleRoleNotes
1966The GroupGus Leroy
1967Mark Twain TonightMark TwainTV special
1968Wild in the StreetsSenator Johnny Fergus
1970The Bold Ones: The SenatorSenator Hays Stowe
1972They Only Kill Their MastersWatkins
1972That Certain SummerDoug SalterTV movie
1973PuebloCaptain Lloyd BucherTV movie
1973Jonathan Livingston SeagullThe ElderVoice, uncredited
1973Magnum ForceLieutenant Briggs
1974The Girl from PetrovkaJoe
1974Carl Sandburg's LincolnAbraham LincolnTV miniseries
1976All the President's MenDeep Throat
1976MidwayCommander Joseph Rochefort
1977JuliaAlan
1977Rituals
1978Capricorn OneDr. James Kelloway
1978The Awakening LandTV seriesPortius Wheeler - The Solitary
1979When Hell Was in SessionCommander Jeremiah A. DentonTV movie
1979Murder by Natural CausesArthur SinclairTV series
1979The Legend of the Golden GunJ. R. SwackhammerTV series
1979Natural EnemiesPaul Steward
1980The FogFather Malone
1980The Kidnapping of the PresidentPresident Adam Scott
1981The Killing of Randy WebsterJohn WebsterTV series
1982CreepshowHenry NorthrupSegment: "The Crate"
1983The Star ChamberJudge Benjamin Caulfield
1983Girls Nite OutJim MacVey
1985North and South Part 1Abraham LincolnTV miniseries
1986–1989Designing WomenReese WatsonTV series
1986Portrait of AmericaTV series
1986Dress GrayGeneral Charles HedgesTV series
1986North and South Part 2Abraham LincolnTV miniseries
1987Wall StreetLou Mannheim
1988The UnholyArchbishop Mosely
1989Fletch LivesHamilton "Ham" Johnson
1990–1994Evening ShadeEvan EvansTV series
1993The FirmOliver Lambert
1996Innocent VictimsBob Hennis
1997Eye of GodSheriff Rogers
1997Cats Don't DanceCranstonVoice
1997HerculesAmphitryonVoice
1998HushDr. Franklin Hill
1998Walking to the WaterlineMan on the Beach
1999The BachelorRoy O'Dell
2000Waking the DeadIsaac Green
2000Men of HonorMr. Pappy
2000The Life and Adventures of Santa ClausAk - Master Woodsman of the WorldVoice
2001The MajesticCongressman Doyle
2001–2002The West WingAssistant Secretary of State Albie DuncanTV series
2002Seventh DayDocumentary
2003Country Music: The Spirit of AmericaNarratorIMAX
2003ShadeThe Professor
2006The SopranosJohn SchwinnTV series
2006NCISMickey StokesTV series
2007Into the WildRon Franz
2008ERWalter PerkinsTV series
2009That Evening SunAbner Meecham
2010Sons of AnarchyNate MadockTV series
2010–2011The EventJames DempseyTV series
2011Water for ElephantsOld Jacob
2011Good Day for ItHec
2012LincolnFrancis Preston Blair
2013SavannahJudge Harden
2013Promised LandFrank Yates
2013RectifyRutherford GainesTV series
2013Monday MorningsDr. Arvin WayneTV series

Awards and nominations[edit]

Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards

Chicago Film Critics Association Awards

Online Film Critics Society Awards

Screen Actors Guild Awards

Primetime Emmy Awards

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hal Holbrook Biography (1925-)
  2. ^ "Hal Holbrook at the Internet Broadway Database". Awards. 
  3. ^ http://yourlifemoments.ca/sitepages/obituary.asp?oId=769165
  4. ^ http://holyokehistory.blogspot.com/ Holyoke History Room & Archives Valley Players Collection (1941-1993). HPLA2007.527
  5. ^ http://www.westland.net/ny64fair/map-docs/technology.htm
  6. ^ Malia Wollan (January 24, 2011). "Mark Twain. Now a Career for the Mustachioed". New York Times. "...has played Twain going on 57 years, longer than Samuel Langhorne Clemens did." 
  7. ^ Baker, Brian (9 April 2006). Masculinity in Fiction and Film: Representing Men in Popular Genres, 1945-2000. Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 104. ISBN 978-1-84714-149-1. Retrieved 18 February 2013. 
  8. ^ Brunsdale, Mitzi M. (26 July 2010). Icons of Mystery and Crime Detection: From Sleuths to Superheroes. ABC-CLIO. p. 368. ISBN 978-0-313-34530-2. Retrieved 18 February 2013. 
  9. ^ "On Stage: New class of theater hall of famers". 
  10. ^ [1] Variety, March 26, 2009.
  11. ^ [2] PR Web.com, April 24, 2009.
  12. ^ Gerhardt, Tina (31 December 2012). "Matt Damon Exposes Fracking in Promised Land". The Progressive. 
  13. ^ Biography for Hal Holbrook at the Internet Movie Database

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]