Harve Presnell Biography

Harve Presnell was an American actor and singer. Check out this biography to know about his childhood, family life, achievements, etc.

Quick Facts

Birthday: September 14, 1933

Nationality: American

Famous: Actors American Men

Died At Age: 75

Sun Sign: Virgo

Also Known As: George Harvey Presnel

Born Country: United States

Born in: Modesto, California, United States

Famous as: Actor

Height: 6'5" (196 cm), 6'5" Males

Family:

Spouse/Ex-: Veeva Suzanne Hamblen (m. 1966), Sheryl M. Green (m. 1957–1966)

siblings: Veeva Suzanne Hamblen (m. 1966)

children: Etoile Presnell, Raine Presnell, Shannon Presnell, Stephanie Presnell, Taylor Presnell, Tulley Presnell

Died on: June 30, 2009

place of death: Santa Monica, California, USA

Cause of Death: Pancreatic Cancer

U.S. State: California

More Facts

education: University Of Southern California

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Harve Presnell was an American actor and singer, best known for his award-winning performance in the film titled ‘The Unsinkable Molly Brown’ and the ‘Broadway’ musical of the same name. His performance in the film (as ‘Johnny Brown’), which was also his film debut, earned him a ‘Golden Globe Award.’ Born and raised in Modesto, California, Harve was interested in singing ever since he was a kid. At the age of 7, he began singing in church choirs, and by the age of 16, he was doing opera shows. He was trained in vocal performance at the ‘University of Southern California.’ He then attended the ‘Music Academy of the West’ and made his ‘Broadway’ debut with ‘Ariadne auf Naxos’ in 1957. He then appeared on many ‘Broadway’ shows, such as ‘The Unsinkable Molly Brown.’ He later appeared in the show’s cinematic adaptation, thus also making his acting debut. Following an award-winning performance, he appeared in films such as ‘Fargo,’ ‘Face/Off,’ ‘Saving Private Ryan,’ and ‘Old School.’ Additionally, he also appeared in TV series such as ‘The Pretender,’ ‘The Lionhearts,’ ‘Dawson’s Creek,’ ‘American Dad!,’ and ‘Andy Barker, P.I.’ He passed away in June 2009, at the age of 75.

Childhood & Early Life
  • Harve Presnell was born George Harvey Presnell, on September 14, 1933, in Modesto, California, into a Christian family. He spent much of his younger years on a family ranch near Yosemite Valley. There, he joined a local school, and in his free time, he also worked on a field.
  • He was a gifted child and loved singing in his younger years. His parents got a hint of his abilities when he was 7 years old, when he began singing as a soloist in the local church choir. He liked singing and thus followed his passion over the next few years, further polishing his skills with the aim of creating a career in the field.
  • He graduated from the ‘Modesto High School,’ where he also excelled in sports. He had an option of choosing sports as a career. However, singing was his true passion, and he followed it, eventually rejecting the ‘USC’ sports scholarship that he had received.
  • Following his high-school graduation, he joined the ‘University of Southern California,’ earning an under-graduate degree in vocal performance. However, he was not satisfied and decided to study further. By the time he was 21 years old, he had already started his singing career.
  • In order to further polish his singing skills, he attended Lotte Lehmann’s ‘Academy of the West.’
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Career
  • He began his career as an opera singer and made his debut with Darius Milhaud’s famous opera ‘David,’ at the age of 21. He appeared in the lead role in the American premier of the opera, which was a huge success.
  • He then appeared on more opera shows as a singer. Such shows included ‘The Marriage of Figaro’ and ‘Tosca.’ During these shows, he sang alongside esteemed opera singers such as Leontyne Price and Dorothy Kristen.
  • Soon, Harve became a nationally recognized name in opera singing and also did nationwide tours. He got the opportunity to sing at New York’s famous ‘Carnegie Hall,’ when he performed for the opera show ‘Carmina Burana.’ This particular stint proved to be a breakthrough moment for him, as it opened avenues to ‘Broadway.’ It was also the beginning of his full-fledged acting career.
  • Musical theater composer Meredith Wilson was present during one of his shows. Meredith became interested in Harve’s abilities as a singer and thought that he was perfectly suited for a new ‘Broadway’ project. Meredith, at that time (in the early 1960s), was busy composing his piece on the life of Molly Brown, a famous survivor of the ‘Titanic’ disaster.
  • After the concert, Meredith met Harve backstage and asked him to audition for the musical. Harve auditioned and ended up impressing the producer, eventually earning the key role of ‘Leadville Johnny’ in the ‘Broadway’ play titled ‘The Unsinkable Molly Brown.’ With Harve’s voice in mind, Meredith recomposed many parts for the character of ‘Johnny.’
  • In November 1960, the ‘Broadway’ show debuted at the ‘Winter Garden Theatre’ in Manhattan, New York, and was an instant success with the critics and the audiences. As the show became a national success, for the next 2 years, Harve traveled around the country playing ‘Johnny’ in the play. He ended up doing 532 performances until 1962.
  • The roaring success of the show got filmmaker Charles Waters interested in a film adaptation of the show, and Harve was offered to reprise his role as ‘Johnny Brown’ in the film. The musical film, ‘The Unsinkable Molly Brown,’ was released in 1964 and had Debbie Reynolds playing the titular role.
  • The film earned a lot of praises from critics and also became a massive box-office success. At the ‘Golden Globe Awards’ that year, Harve ended up winning the ‘New Star of the Year Award.’
  • In the following years, he played key roles in films such as ‘The Glory Guys’ and ‘Paint Your Wagon.’ However, after the mid-1960s, he took a long break before he worked in films again.
  • In the early 1970s, he took a break from screen acting to concentrate on his stage work. He then appeared in successful plays such as ‘Scarlett,’ ‘Annie,’ and ‘Annie Warbucks.’
  • In the mid-1990s, he made his film “comeback” with the movie ‘The Whole Wide World’ and then starred in the cult classic film titled ‘Fargo.’ He also appeared in other well-known films such as ‘Saving Private Ryan’ and ‘The Family Man.’
  • On TV, he mostly played small roles in series such as ‘Alfred Hitchcock Presents,’ ‘ER,’ and ‘Frasier.’ He also played lengthy roles in series such as ‘The Pretender,’ ‘The Lionhearts,’ ‘Dawson’s Creek,’ and ‘Andy Barker, P.I.’
  • In the 2000s, as his health deteriorated, he became extremely selective about the films he did. He appeared in a handful of films such as ‘Old School’ and ‘Evan Almighty.’
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Family, Personal Life & Death
  • Harve Presnell married Sheryl May Green in July 1957. The couple got divorced in April 1966. They had two children.
  • Within a month of getting divorced, he got married to Veeva Suzanne Hamblen. He had three children with her and remained married to her until his demise.
  • In the final years of his life, he had moved to a ranch in Livingston, Montana. He only moved to other cities when there was work.
  • He passed away on June 30, 2009, after struggling with pancreatic cancer. He was 75 years old at the time of his death.
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- Harve Presnell Biography
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Harve Presnell

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