Earl Holliman

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Earl Holliman
Earl Holliman Hotel De Paree 1959.jpg
Holliman in 1959
Born Henry Earl Holliman
(1928-09-11) September 11, 1928 (age 86)
Delhi, Louisiana, U.S.
Occupation Actor
Years active 1953–2000

Henry Earl Holliman (born September 11, 1928) is an American actor. He is well known for his many character roles in films, mostly westerns and dramas, in the 1950s and 1960s. He also portrayed the role of Police Sergeant Bill Crowley on the television police drama Police Woman throughout its 1974 - 1978 run.

Early life and education[edit]

Earl Holliman was born at Delhi in the Richland Parish of northeastern Louisiana. Holliman’s biological father died six months before he was born, and his biological mother, living in poverty with several other children, gave him up for adoption at birth. He was adopted from an orphanage a week after his birth by Henry Holliman, an oil-field worker, and his wife. Earl's early years were normal until his adoptive father died when Earl was 13.[citation needed]

He saved money from his job ushering at a movie theater and left Shreveport, Louisiana, hitchhiking to Hollywood. Unsuccessful at finding work, he soon returned to Louisiana. Meanwhile, his adoptive mother had remarried, and Holliman disliked his new stepfather.[1] He lied about his age and enlisted in the United States Navy during World War II.[2] Assigned to a Navy communications school in Los Angeles, he spent his free time at the Hollywood Canteen, talking to stars who dropped by to support the servicemen and women. A year after he enlisted, the Navy discovered his real age and discharged him.

Holliman returned home and finished high school. As soon as he was old enough, he re-enlisted in the Navy and was stationed in Norfolk, Virginia. Interested in acting, he was cast as the lead in several Norfolk Navy Theatre productions.[2] When he left the Navy for good, Holliman studied acting at the Pasadena Playhouse.[1] He also graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles.[3]



Holliman first appeared, uncredited, in three 1953 films. His credits include: The Bridges at Toko-Ri (1954), Forbidden Planet (1956), Giant (1956), The Rainmaker (1956) (for which he won the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture), Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957), The Sons of Katie Elder (1965), and Anzio (1968).

Earl Holliman at 2006 San Diego Comic Con - Photograph by Patty Mooney


Holliman became well known to television audiences through his role as Sundance in CBS's Hotel de Paree, with costar Jeanette Nolan, and in the title role with Andrew Prine in NBC's The Wide Country, a drama about modern rodeo performers that aired for twenty-eight episodes in 1962–1963. He also had the distinction of appearing in the first episode of CBS's The Twilight Zone, titled "Where Is Everybody?" which aired on October 2, 1959—also the night of the premiere of Hotel de Paree. In 1962, he and Claude Akins guest-starred as feuding brothers in "The Stubborn Stumbos" episode of Marilyn Maxwell's ABC drama series Bus Stop. In 1967, Holliman guest-starred on Wayne Maunder's short-lived ABC military-western series Custer. In 1970 Holliman starred in the tv movie Tribes as the antagonist Master Sergeant Frank DePayster. The film also starred Darren McGavin and Jan Michael Vincent. In 1970 and 1971, Holliman made two appearances in the western comedy Alias Smith and Jones starring Pete Duel (né Deuel) and Ben Murphy. From 1974–1978, he was cast as Sergeant Bill Crowley opposite Angie Dickinson in the Police Woman series.

Earl continued to appear in television guest roles throughout the 1970s and 1980s. He also shared a starring role in the CBS made for TV movie "Country Gold"[4] made in Nashville which also featured Loni Anderson, Linda Hamilton & Cooper Huckabee. He was also a regular celebrity panelist on Hollywood Squares where he was recognized for his ability to trick the contestants with believable bluff answers.

His most notable role during this period was in the hit mini-series The Thorn Birds with Richard Chamberlain and Rachel Ward. He also took part in the Gunsmoke reunion movie "Gunsmoke: Return to Dodge" in 1987 as Jake Flagg. He also was an occasional celebrity on the Pyramid game shows between 1983-1991. In 1991, Murder She Wrote season 7, episode 'Who Killed JB fletcher?'

Holliman also starred in the 1997-1999 television series Night Man as Frank Domino, a semi-retired police officer and protagonist character's father.


Earl Holliman owned the Fiesta Dinner Playhouse in San Antonio, Texas. He occasionally performed at his theater when he was not working in Hollywood, including starring in Same Time, Next Year with Julie Sommars in 1983.[5] The facility closed after 1987.

Holliman is also known for his work as an animal-rights activist, including more than 25 years as president of Actors and Others for Animals.[6]

Awards and nominations[edit]

In addition to his Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture for The Rainmaker, Holliman also earned a nomination for a Golden Globe Award for "Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Television Series" for his performance alongside Delta Burke in her short-lived 1992 series Delta.

For his contribution to the television industry, Holliman has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6901 Hollywood Blvd.

Partial filmography[edit]


  1. ^ a b Holleran, Scott: [1] Box Office Mojo, March 8, 2006 - Close-Up: Actor Earl Holliman interview
  2. ^ a b Yahoo! Movies - Earl Holliman
  3. ^ Erickson, Hal: [2] Answers.com; Earl Holliman
  4. ^ ""Country Gold" CBS TV movie 1982". www.imdb.com. Retrieved 2012-04-12. 
  5. ^ [3] Steve Gilliam Resume, Fiesta Dinner Playhouse
  6. ^ Fraser, Nora: [4] The Pet Press, October 2002 - Actors & Others’ Head Honcho Has A Huge Heart for Animals

External links[edit]