Hal Holbrook

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Hal Holbrook
Hal Holbrook Our Town 1977.jpg
Holbrook in the 1977 TV adaptation of the play Our Town.
Born Harold Rowe Holbrook, Jr.
(1925-02-17) February 17, 1925 (age 89)
Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
Nationality American
Education Culver Academies
Alma mater Denison University
Occupation Actor
Years active 1954–present
Notable work(s) Mark Twain Tonight
Into the Wild
The Fog
All the President's Men
Wall Street
Water for Elephants
Fletch Lives
Magnum Force
The Star Chamber
Capricorn One
The Firm
Girls Nite Out
Spouse(s) Ruby Holbrook
(1945–1965)
Carol Eve Rossen (1966–1979)
Dixie Carter
(1984–2010; her death)
Children 3

Harold Rowe "Hal" Holbrook, Jr. (born February 17, 1925) is an American film and stage actor. Holbrook initially gained notoriety for a one-man stage show he developed while in college in 1954, performing as Mark Twain, and made his film debut in Sidney Lumet's The Group (1966). He later gained international fame for his performance as Deep Throat in the 1976 film All the President's Men, followed by roles in the 1976 television series, Lincoln, Julia (1977), The Fog (1980), and Creepshow (1982).

Holbrook's later career has included roles in Into the Wild (2007), for which he was nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award and an Academy Award, as well as a recurring role on the FX series Sons of Anarchy, and as Francis Preston Blair in Steven Spielberg's Lincoln (2012).

Early life[edit]

Holbrook was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the son of Aileen (Davenport) Holbrook, a vaudeville dancer, and Harold Rowe Holbrook, Sr.[1] After being abandoned by his parents at age two, he and his two sisters were raised by his paternal grandparents,[citation needed] first in South Weymouth, Massachusetts, and then in the Cleveland suburb of Lakewood. He 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 U.S. Army in World War II and was stationed in Newfoundland, where he performed in theatre productions such as the play Madam Precious.

Career[edit]

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, which performed at Mountain Park Casino Playhouse at Mountain Park. 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.

Holbrook performed in a special production for the New York World's Fair (1964, 1965) for the Bell Telephone Pavilion.[4] Jo Mielziner created an innovative audio-visual ride experience and used 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 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 the country in what, as of 2005, has amounted to over 2000 performances. He has portrayed Twain longer than Samuel Langhorne Clemens did.[5]

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.

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, nonjudgmental light. In 1973, Holbrook appeared as Lieutenant Neil Briggs, the boss and rival of Detective Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood) in Magnum Force, an "obsessively neat and prim fanatic" who supports the obliteration of San Francisco's criminals and who is the leader of a rogue group of vigilante officers.[6][7] In 1976, Holbrook won 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 a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for the 1970 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. Holbrook also had a major role on the sitcom Evening Shade throughout its entire run.

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

Holbrook was the narrator on the Ken Burns documentary Lewis & Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery in 1997.

Holbrook appeared on Fisher Investments' infomercials.

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

In 1999, Holbrook was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame.[8]

In 2000, Holbrook 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. In late August through mid-September 2007, he starred as the narrator in the Hartford Stage production of Thornton Wilder's Our Town, a role he had once played on television.

Holbrook appeared with wife Dixie Carter in That Evening Sun, filmed 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."[9] 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.[10] On April 22, 2010, Holbrook signed on to portray Katey Sagal's character's father on the FX original series Sons of Anarchy for a four-episode arc in their third season. He also had a multiple-episode arc on The Event, an American television series, airing on NBC in the 2010–2011 season.

Holbrook's latest films are Water for Elephants (2011), Steven Spielberg's Lincoln (2012), and Gus Van Sant's Promised Land (2012).[11]

Personal life[edit]

Holbrook has been married three times and has three children. He married Ruby Holbrook on September 22, 1945, and they had two children, Victoria Holbrook and David Holbrook. They divorced in 1965, and on December 28, 1966, he married Carol Eve Rossen. They had one child, Eve Holbrook, and they divorced on June 14, 1983.

He married Dixie Carter on May 27, 1984. Architect Hoyte Johnson of Atlanta redesigned Carter's family home and created an environment that the couple shared with family and friends. Holbrook has said that the home has the "feel" of the Mark Twain House in Hartford, Connecticut, and that there is no other place to which he feels so ideally suited. Holbrook and Carter remained married until her death on April 10, 2010.[12] Holbrook had a recurring role on his wife's hit sitcom Designing Women, appearing in nine episodes between 1986 and 1989 as Carter's on-screen significant other.

Holbrook grew to love Dixie's home in McLemoresville, Tennessee, and continues to retreat there from the busy life on the road and in Hollywood. The local community responded by building the Dixie Theatre for Performing Arts in nearby Huntington, Tennessee, which features the Hal Holbrook Auditorium.

His sister, June MacPherson (née Holbrook), lived in Cornwall, Ontario, Canada, throughout her life. She died in Long Sault, Ontario, Canada on January 11, 2014, at the age of 90.[13]

Filmography[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1966 The Group Gus Leroy
1967 Mark Twain Tonight Mark Twain TV special
1968 Wild in the Streets Senator Johnny Fergus
1970 The Bold Ones: The Senator Senator Hays Stowe
1970 The Great White Hope Al Cameron
1972 They Only Kill Their Masters Watkins
1972 That Certain Summer Doug Salter TV movie
1973 Pueblo Captain Lloyd Bucher TV movie
1973 Jonathan Livingston Seagull The Elder Voice, uncredited
1973 Magnum Force Lieutenant Briggs
1974 The Girl from Petrovka Joe
1974 Carl Sandburg's Lincoln Abraham Lincoln TV miniseries
1976 All the President's Men Deep Throat
1976 Midway Commander Joseph Rochefort
1977 Julia Alan
1977 Rituals
1978 Capricorn One Dr. James Kelloway
1978 The Awakening Land TV series Portius Wheeler - The Solitary
1979 When Hell Was in Session Commander Jeremiah A. Denton TV movie
1979 Murder by Natural Causes Arthur Sinclair TV series
1979 The Legend of the Golden Gun J. R. Swackhammer TV series
1979 Natural Enemies Paul Steward
1980 The Fog Father Malone
1980 The Kidnapping of the President President Adam Scott
1981 The Killing of Randy Webster John Webster TV series
1982 Creepshow Henry Northrup Segment: "The Crate"
1983 The Star Chamber Judge Benjamin Caulfield
1983 Girls Nite Out Jim MacVey
1985 North and South Part 1 Abraham Lincoln TV miniseries
1986–1989 Designing Women Reese Watson TV series
1986 Portrait of America TV series
1986 Dress Gray General Charles Hedges TV series
1986 North and South Part 2 Abraham Lincoln TV miniseries
1987 Wall Street Lou Mannheim
1988 The Unholy Archbishop Mosely
1988 I'll Be Home for Christmas Joseph Bundy
1989 Day One General George Marshall TV movie
1989 Fletch Lives Hamilton "Ham" Johnson
1990–1994 Evening Shade Evan Evans TV series
1993 The Firm Oliver Lambert
1996 Innocent Victims Bob Hennis
1997 Eye of God Sheriff Rogers
1997 Cats Don't Dance Cranston Voice
1997 Hercules Amphitryon Voice
1998 Hush Dr. Franklin Hill
1998 Walking to the Waterline Man on the Beach
1999 The Bachelor Roy O'Dell
2000 Waking the Dead Isaac Green
2000 Men of Honor Mr. Pappy
2000 The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus Ak - Master Woodsman of the World Voice
2001 The Majestic Congressman Doyle
2001–2002 The West Wing Assistant Secretary of State Albie Duncan TV series
2002 Seventh Day Documentary
2003 Country Music: The Spirit of America Narrator IMAX
2003 Shade The Professor
2006 The Sopranos John Schwinn TV series
2006 NCIS Mickey Stokes TV series
2007 Into the Wild Ron Franz
2008 ER Walter Perkins TV series
2009 That Evening Sun Abner Meecham
2009 Killshot Papa
2010; 2014 Sons of Anarchy Nate Madock TV series
2010–2011 The Event James Dempsey TV series
2011 Water for Elephants Old Jacob
2011 Good Day for It Hec
2012 Lincoln Francis Preston Blair
2013 Savannah Judge Harden
2013 Promised Land Frank Yates
2013 Rectify Rutherford Gaines TV series
2013 Monday Mornings Dr. Arvin Wayne TV series
2014 Planes: Fire & Rescue Mayday Voice

Awards and nominations[edit]

Academy Awards

Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards

Chicago Film Critics Association Awards

Online Film Critics Society Awards

Screen Actors Guild Awards

Primetime Emmy Awards

  • Outstanding Lead Actor - Drama or Comedy Special
  • Outstanding Informational Series
  • Outstanding Performance in Informational Programing

Tony Awards

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hal Holbrook Biography (1925-)
  2. ^ "Hal Holbrook at the Internet Broadway Database". Awards. 
  3. ^ http://holyokehistory.blogspot.com/ Holyoke History Room & Archives Valley Players Collection (1941-1993). HPLA2007.527
  4. ^ http://www.westland.net/ny64fair/map-docs/technology.htm
  5. ^ 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. 
  6. ^ Baker, Brian (9 April 2006). Masculinity in Fiction and Film: Representing Men in Popular Genres, 1945-2000. Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 104. ISBN 978-1-84714-149-1. Retrieved 18 February 2013. 
  7. ^ Brunsdale, Mitzi M. (26 July 2010). Icons of Mystery and Crime Detection: From Sleuths to Superheroes. ABC-CLIO. p. 368. ISBN 978-0-313-34530-2. Retrieved 18 February 2013. 
  8. ^ "On Stage: New class of theater hall of famers". 
  9. ^ [1] Variety, March 26, 2009.
  10. ^ [2] PR Web.com, April 24, 2009.
  11. ^ Gerhardt, Tina (31 December 2012). "Matt Damon Exposes Fracking in Promised Land". The Progressive. 
  12. ^ Biography for Hal Holbrook at the Internet Movie Database
  13. ^ http://yourlifemoments.ca/sitepages/obituary.asp?oId=769165

Further reading[edit]

  • 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.

External links[edit]