Hal Holbrook

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Hal Holbrook
Holbrook in 2001
Harold Rowe Holbrook

(1925-02-17)February 17, 1925
DiedJanuary 23, 2021(2021-01-23) (aged 95)
EducationCulver Academies
Alma materDenison University
Years active1954–2021
Known forAbraham Lincoln,
Mark Twain
Deep Throat
Francis Preston Blair
Notable workMark Twain Tonight, Creepshow, Into the Wild, The Fog, All the President's Men, Water for Elephants, Fletch Lives, Magnum Force, The Star Chamber, Capricorn One, The Firm, That Evening Sun, Lincoln
The Bold Ones: The Senator
Height6' 1" (1.85 m)
Political partyIndependent[1]
Spouse(s)Ruby Holbrook (m. 1945–65)
Carol Eve Rossen (m. 1966–79)
Dixie Carter (m. 1984–2010; her death)
ChildrenWith Ruby:
David Holbrook,
Victoria Holbrook,
With Rossen:
Eve Holbrook
AwardsTony Award, Drama Desk Award, Primetime Emmy Award

Harold Rowe "Hal" Holbrook (February 17, 1925 – January 23, 2021) was an American movie, television, stage and voice actor. Holbrook was known to the general audience for playing famous author Mark Twain in plays or on biographical shows.

Holbrook was born in Cleveland, Ohio. He began acting in 1954. He began his Mark Twain routine, so that he can earn money.

Holbrook soon began appearing on plays. He then called his Twain show Mark Twain Tonight.[2] He is also known for his fictional-political shows and as "Deep Throat" in All the President's Men. He also played Abraham Lincoln in several biographical television movies.

Holbrook was nominated for many awards during his career. He is the oldest actor to have nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

Early life[change | change source]

Holbrook was born on February 17, 1925 in Cleveland, Ohio.[3] His parents were Harold Rowe Holbrook and Aileen Davenport. His parents left him, so he and his two sisters were raised by his grandparents in South Weymouth, Massachusetts. He studied at Culver Academies and at Denison University. His acting career would begin in theater in 1954.

Career[change | change source]

Holbrook in May 1977

Holbrook is known for his television roles. These include Abraham Lincoln, Hays Stone in The Bold Ones: The Senator and Capt. Lloyd Bucher in Pueblo. But he is best known as Mark Twain in comedy stage works and comedy shows. His first solo performance as Twain was at Lock Haven State Teachers College in Pennsylvania in 1954. Holbrook had to smoke for his role as Twain. He would later name that play Mark Twain Tonight. He has portrayed Twain longer than Samuel Langhorne Clemens did.[2]

Holbrook first appeared in movies in 1966, in The Group. After this, he appeared in two more movies: Magnum Force in 1973 and All the President's Men in 1976. Later, he appeared in The Fog, Wall Street, Hercules, The Bachelor, and in Walking the Dead.

He was also known for his role in the 2007 movie Into the Wild, for which he was nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award and an Academy Award. He also appeared in Water for Elephants in 2011.

Later he has appeared as Francis Preston Blair in Steven Spielberg's movie Lincoln in 2012. He appeared during the opening ceremony of the 2013 Screen Actors Guild Awards.

Holbrook starred in the 2014 animated movie Planes 2: Fire & Rescue as a fire truck named Mayday. Holbrook is set to star in the 2015 thriller movie Go with Me along with Anthony Hopkins.

Personal life and death[change | change source]

Holbrook and Dixie Carter at the 41st Emmy Awards, 1990

Holbrook was married to Ruby Holbrook from 1945 until they divorced in 1965. Then he was married to Carol Eve Rossen from 1966 until they divorced in 1979. He was last married to Dixie Carter from 1984 until her death in 2010. Holbrook has two children with Ruby and one with Rossen.

Holbrook met Carter on the set of The Killing of Randy Webster in 1980. Holbrook now lives in McLemoresville, Tennessee, and in Beverly Hills, California. Holbrook has stated that he was a political independent because he votes for both Democrats and Republicans.

Holbrook died at his home in Beverly Hills, California, on January 23, 2021 at the age of 95. His death was announced more than a week later, on February 2.[4]

Awards and nominations[change | change source]

Holbrook has won three Tony Awards, in 1971, 1974, and in 1976. He won a Drama Desk Award in 1989. He also won a Primetime Emmy Award in 1966. He was nominated for an Academy Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award in 2007 for his role in Into the Wild. In 2008, at age 82, he became the oldest male actor to be nominated for an Academy Award. His nomination displaced Ralph Richardson, who previously held that distinction.[5] Here is the list of nominations or winning awards:

Hal Holbrook in The Brighter Day Scene, August 1954
Hal Holbrook awarded the National Humanities Award by George W. Bush, November 2003

Academy Awards

Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards

  • (2008) Nominated - Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor / Into the Wild

Chicago Film Critics Association Awards

  • (2007) Nominated - Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor / Into the Wild

Online Film Critics Society Awards

  • (2008) Nominated - Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actor / Into the Wild

Screen Actors Guild Awards

  • (2008) Nominated - Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role - Motion Picture / Into the Wild

Primetime Emmy Awards

  • Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor - Miniseries or a Movie-
    • (1967) Nominated - Mark Twain Tonight!
    • (1971) Nominated - A Clear and Present Danger
    • (1973) Nominated - That Certain Summer
    • (1974) Won - Pueblo
    • (1976) Won - Sandburg's Lincoln
    • (1978) Nominated - The Awakening Land
    • (1969) Nominated - 'The Whole World is Watching
  • Outstanding Lead Actor - Drama or Comedy Special
    • (1978) Nominated - Our Town
  • Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor - Drama Series
    • (1971) Won - The Bold Ones: The Senator
  • Outstanding Informational Series
    • (1988) Nominated - Portrait of America (segment: New York City)
  • Outstanding Performance in Informational Programing
    • (1989) Won - Portrait of America (segment: Alaska)
  • Primetime Emmy Award for Actor of the Year (Retired category)

Movies[change | change source]

Year Title Notes
1966 The Group
1967 Mark Twain Tonight TV special
1968 Wild in the Streets
1972 They Only Kill Their Masters
1973 Pueblo TV movie
1973 Jonathan Livingston Seagull Voice
1973 Magnum Force
1974 The Girl from Petrovka
1974 Carl Sandburg's Lincoln TV miniseries
1976 All the President's Men
1976 Midway
1977 Julia
1977 Rituals
1978 Capricorn One
1978 The Awakening Land TV series
1979 When Hell Was in Session TV series
1979 Murder by Natural Causes TV series
1979 The Legend of the Golden Gun TV series
1980 The Fog
1980 The Kidnapping of the President
1981 The Killing of Randy Webster TV series
1982 Creepshow
1983 The Star Chamber
1983 Girls Night Out
1985 Designing Women TV series
1985 North and South Part 1 TV miniseries
1986 Portrait of America TV series
1986 Dress Gray TV series
1986 North and South Part 2 TV miniseries
1987 Wall Street
1988 The Unholy
1989 Fletch Lives
1990 Evening Shade TV series
1993 The Firm
1996 Innocent Victims
1997 Eye of God
1997 Cats Don't Dance Voice
1997 Hercules Voice
1998 Hush
1998 Walking to the Waterline
1999 The Bachelor
2000 Waking the Dead
2000 Men of Honor
2000 The Life & Adventures of Santa Claus Voice
2001 The Majestic
2001 The West Wing TV series
2002 Seventh Day Documentary
2003 Country Music: The Spirit of America IMAX
2003 Shade
2006 The Sopranos TV series
2006 NCIS TV series
2007 Into the Wild Nominated for an Academy Award and an Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor.
2008 ER TV series
2009 That Evening Sun
2010 Sons of Anarchy TV series
2010 The Event TV series
2011 Water for Elephants
2011 Good Day For It
2012 Lincoln
2012 Savannah
2013 Promised Land
2013 Rectify TV series
2013 Monday Mornings TV series
2014 Planes 2: Fire & Rescue Voice
2015 Go with Me Post-production

References[change | change source]

  1. "Hal Holbrook speaks out against Republican Party leaders". LA Times Blogs.com. May 2010. Retrieved 2 April 2013.
  2. 2.0 2.1 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.
  3. "Hal Holbrook Biography (1925-) at FilmReference.com". Retrieved 30 January 2013.
  4. Hal Holbrook, Actor Who Channeled Mark Twain, Is Dead at 95
  5. Hal Holbrook Trivia at Who's Dated Who

For more information[change | change source]

  • Holbrook, Hal. (1959). Mark Twain Tonight! An Actor's Portrait. New York: Ives Washburn.
  • Young, Jordan R. (1989). Acting Solo: The Art of One-Person Shows. Beverly Hills: Past Times Publishing Co.

Other websites[change | change source]