||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (January 2012)|
Holbrook in the 1977 TV adaptation of the play Our Town.
|Born||Harold Rowe Holbrook, Jr.
February 17, 1925
Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
|Alma mater||Denison University|
|Notable work(s)||Mark Twain Tonight
Into the Wild
All the President's Men
Water for Elephants
The Star Chamber
Girls Nite Out
Carol Eve Rossen (1966–1979)
(1984–2010; her death)
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).
Holbrook was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the son of Aileen (Davenport) Holbrook, a vaudeville dancer, and Harold Rowe Holbrook, Sr. After being abandoned by his parents at age two, he and his two sisters were raised by his paternal grandparents, 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). 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.
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. 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. 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[update], has amounted to over 2000 performances. He has portrayed Twain longer than Samuel Langhorne Clemens did.
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. 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.
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." 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. 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 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. 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.
|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|
|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"|
|1982||Girls Nite Out||Jim MacVey|
|1983||The Star Chamber||Judge Benjamin Caulfield|
|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|
|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|
|2003||Country Music: The Spirit of America||Narrator||IMAX|
|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|
|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||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
- (2008) Nominated - Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role / Into the Wild
- Outstanding Lead Actor - Miniseries or a Movie -
- Outstanding Lead Actor - Drama or Comedy Special
- (1978) Nominated - Our Town
- Outstanding Informational Series
- (1988) Nominated - Portrait of America (segment: New York City)
- Outstanding Performance in Informational Programing
- (1989) Won - Portrait of America (segment: Alaska)
- Actor of the Year (Retired category)
- (1974) Won - Pueblo
- Hal Holbrook Biography (1925-)
- "Hal Holbrook at the Internet Broadway Database". Awards.
- http://holyokehistory.blogspot.com/ Holyoke History Room & Archives Valley Players Collection (1941-1993). HPLA2007.527
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- "On Stage: New class of theater hall of famers".
-  Variety, March 26, 2009.
-  PR Web.com, April 24, 2009.
- Gerhardt, Tina (31 December 2012). "Matt Damon Exposes Fracking in Promised Land". The Progressive.
- Biography for Hal Holbrook at the Internet Movie Database
- 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.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Hal Holbrook.|
- Hal Holbrook at the Internet Movie Database
- Hal Holbrook at the Internet Broadway Database
- Hal Holbrook at the Internet Off-Broadway Database
- Hal Holbrook Papers at the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research.
- Appearances on C-SPAN
- Works by or about Hal Holbrook in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- Hal Holbrook at the Notable Names Database
- The Seventh Day, a 2002 5-DVD set documentary on the history of the Sabbath. Produced by LLT Productions.
- 2004 Story on Holbrook from NOW
- Biography and 2004 story about his return to Broadway from Playbill
- State of Mississippi Resolution