Born In: Cleveland, Ohio, U.S
Hal Rowe Holbrook Jr. was an American film and stage actor, and director. He is best known for his portrayal of the author, Mark Twain. He started his career with stage plays, playing the great author. Later, he played Mark Twain in several TV networks too. His creativity in performing the role impressed his audiences. For many years, the name Holbrook was synonymous with ‘Mark Twain.’ He also played other famous people such as Abraham Lincoln. Holbrook gained international reputation for his performance in various movies. Despite being a renowned actor, he never played the lead role in any movie. He would always play the father, the lawyer, or the military officer, and each time, he would perform convincingly. The veteran actor earned an ‘Academy Award’ nomination at the age of 82. His admirers felt that this recognition was long overdue. At an age when most actors consider retirement, Holbrook remained active and vigorous. He was honored with the National Humanities Medal in 2003.
Also Known As: Harold Rowe Holbrook Jr.
Died At Age: 95
Spouse/Ex-: Carol Eve Rossen (m. 1966–1983), Dixie Carter (m. 1984–2010), Ruby Holbrook (m. 1945–1965)
father: Harold Rowe Holbrook, Sr.
mother: Aileen Davenport Holbrook
Born Country: United States
place of death: Beverly Hills, California, U.S.
U.S. State: Ohio
education: Culver Military Academy, Denison University
Hal Holbrook was born Harold Rowe Holbrook Jr., on February 17, 1925, in Cleveland, Ohio. His mother, Aileen, was a vaudeville dancer. His parents, Harold Sr. and Aileen, abandoned young Holbrook when he was 2 years old. Holbrook and his two sisters grew up with their paternal grandparents.
Holbrook graduated from the ‘Culver Military Academy.’ Thereafter, he attended the ‘Denison University’ in Ohio, where he studied theater. While studying there, he was required to work on a project on the author Mark Twain. The author’s works had influenced him a lot and had inspired him to create his one-man show, a series of performances known as ‘Mark Twain Tonight.’
In 1954, Holbrook gave his first solo performance as ‘Mark Twain’ in ‘Lock Haven State Teachers College’ in Pennsylvania. He created a buzz with this performance. Soon, he was noticed by noted TV presenter Ed Sullivan. Holbrook was invited to ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’ in February, 1956. The show received an overwhelming response from its audiences.
In 1959, Holbrook performed solo for the first time in an ‘Off- Broadway’ show. He performed for the ‘New York World’s Fair’ in 1964, and 1965. In 1966, Holbrook performed on ‘Broadway.’ In the same year, he won a ‘Tony Award’ for his performance. In 1967, the show, ‘Mark Twain Tonight’ was presented on TV by ‘CBS’ and ‘Xerox.’ Holbrook won an ‘Emmy Award’ for this performance. When Holbrook gave his last performance as ‘Twain,’ he was 80 years old, making him older than the character he played. ‘Mark Twain Tonight’ remained one of the most popular shows, with more than two thousand performances, until Holbrook retired in 2017.
In the late 1960s and 1970s, Holbrook got more prominent TV roles. In 1976, he played ‘Abraham Lincoln’ in the mini-series ‘Lincoln.’ The series was based on the biography of Lincoln, written by Carl Sandburg. Holbrook continued his success story with the role of ‘Senator Hays Stowe’ in the political-drama series, ‘The Bold Ones: The Senator.’ The series was aired on ‘NBC’ from 1970 to 1971. Both these roles earned him ‘Emmy’ awards.
In 1966, Hal Holbrook made his debut in films, with ‘The Group,’ directed by Sidney Lumet. In 1972, he played the role of ‘Doug Salter’ in ‘That Certain Summer,’ a controversial movie that dealt with homosexuality. In 1976, Holbrook shot to international fame with the portrayal of the enigmatic ‘Deep Throat’ in the movie ‘All the President’s Men.’ In 1999, he was inducted into the ‘American Theater Hall of Fame.’ He also acted in several movies such as ‘Julia,’ ‘The Fog,’ and ‘Men of Honor.’
In 2007, Hal Holbrook bagged the role of ‘Ron Franz’ in the movie ‘Into The Wild.’ It was a biographical survival movie, directed by Sean Penn. This was a major landmark in his career. At the age of 82, Holbrook delivered the best performance of his life. He received an ‘Academy Award’ nomination for the ‘Best Actor in a Supporting Role’ for this movie. He shot to fame as the oldest star to be nominated for an ‘Academy Award’ in the said category. He was also nominated for the ‘Screen Actors Guild Award.’
Hal Holbrook married thrice. He married Canadian actress Ruby Elaine Johnstone in 1945. They had two children: Victoria and David. The couple divorced in 1965. In 1966, Holbrook married Carol Eve Rossen. They had one daughter, Eve Holbrook. His second marriage too ended in a divorce.
In 1984, Holbrook got married to actor and singer, Dixie Carter. He starred in a number of sitcoms with Dixie. The couple did not have any children. Dixie died of cancer in 2010. After her death, a local community in her hometown, Tennessee, constructed the ‘The Dixie Carter Performing Arts Center’ in her memory.
Holbrook was a converted Christian. However, he was known to keep liberal views, and he criticized the ‘Bible’ at times. He held independent views on politics.
Hal Holbrook died on January 23, 2021, at his home in Beverly Hills, California. He was 95.
Holbrook was also known for his strong views on politics. He had criticized the ‘Republican Party’ while Barack Obama was still in office. In 2017, he had criticized President Donald Trump, saying that Trump was “trying to distort the American dream.”
Hal Holbrook Movies
(Biography, History, Thriller, Drama)
(Drama, Adventure, Biography)
(Thriller, Mystery, Crime, Action)
(Biography, History, War, Drama)
(Drama, Romance, Sport)
|1989||Outstanding Performance in Informational Programming||Portrait of America (1983)|
|1976||Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series||Lincoln (1974)|
|1974||Best Lead Actor in a Drama||Pueblo (1973)|
|1974||Actor of the Year - Special||Pueblo (1973)|
|1971||Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Dramatic Series||The Bold Ones: The Senator (1970)|
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