Hal Holbrook: Wikis


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Hal Holbrook

at the Hollywood Life Magazine Breakthrough Awards, 2007
Born Harold Rowe Holbrook, Jr.
February 17, 1925 (1925-02-17) (age 85)
Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
Other name(s) Harold Holbrook
Occupation Actor
Years active 1954–present
Spouse(s) Ruby Holbrook (1945–1965)
Carol Eve Rossen (1966–1979)
Dixie Carter (1984–present)

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 done a one man show as Mark Twain. He is married to actress Dixie Carter.


Early life

Holbrook was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the son of Aileen (née Davenport), a vaudeville dancer, and Harold Rowe Holbrook, Sr.[1] He was raised in South Weymouth, Massachusetts. Holbrook 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 US Army in World War II and was stationed in Newfoundland, where he performed in little theatre, including the play Madam Precious.


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. He was a member of the cast for several years and performed Mark Twain Tonight as the 1957 season opener.[3] 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.

Hal did a special production for the New York World's Fair (1964, 1965) for the Bell Telephone Pavilion. Joe Mielziner conceived of an innovative AV experience ride experience and utilizing 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 at least 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 across the country in what as of 2005 has amounted to over 2000 performances. 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.

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

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-judgemental light. In 1976, Holbrook won further 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 an Emmy for Lead Actor in a Dramatic Series in the 1970 TV 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".

Early in his career he worked on stage and in a television soap opera, The Brighter Day. Holbrook 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. More recently, Holbrook appeared as a featured guest star in a 2006 episode of the HBO series The Sopranos and the NCIS episode "Escaped".

Holbrook has appeared in at least six movies in which he is part of a conspiracy: Fletch Lives, Magnum Force, The Star Chamber, Capricorn One, All the President's Men, and The Firm.

Holbrook appeared on Fisher Investments' infomercials.

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

In 2000 he 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.[4] In late August 2007 through mid-September he starred as the narrator in the Hartford Stage production of Thornton Wilder's Our Town.

Holbrook's most recent film is That Evening Sun, which he filmed on location with his wife Dixie Carter 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."[5] 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.[6]



Academy Awards

Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards

Chicago Film Critics Association Awards

Online Film Critics Society Awards

Screen Actors Guild Awards

Primetime Emmy Awards

(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

(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)

(1974) Won - Pueblo

Further reading

  • 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.


  1. ^ Hal Holbrook Biography (1925-)
  2. ^ "Hal Holbrook at the Internet Broadway Database". Awards. http://www.ibdb.com/awardperson.asp?id=15128. Retrieved 2008-01-09. 
  3. ^ http://holyokehistory.blogspot.com/ Holyoke History Room & Archives Valley Players Collection (1941-1993). HPLA2007.527
  4. ^ He has also done a one man show as Mark Twain. "Hal Holbrook at the Internet Movie Database". awards. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001358/awards. Retrieved 2008-01-09. 
  5. ^ [1] Variety, March 26, 2009
  6. ^ [2] PR Web.com, April 24, 2009

External links

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