Jack Holt (actor)

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Jack Holt
Jack Holt.jpg
BornCharles John Holt
(1888-05-31)May 31, 1888
Fordham, New York, U.S.
DiedJanuary 18, 1951(1951-01-18) (aged 62)
Sawtelle, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
OccupationActor
Years active1914–1951
Spouse(s)Margaret Woods
Children3

Charles John Holt Jr.[1] (May 31, 1888 – January 18, 1951) was an American motion picture actor in both silent and sound movies, particularly Westerns.

Early life[edit]

Born in 1888 in Winchester, Virginia, Holt was the son of an Episcopal priest.[2] When in Manhattan, he attended Trinity School. He was accepted into the Virginia Military Institute in 1909,[3] but expelled for misbehavior in his second semester there.[2]

Following Holt's father's death, the family moved to New York City, where Jack, his mother, and brother Marshall lived with his married sister, Frances.[2]

Holt worked at various jobs including construction of the Pennsylvania Railroad's tunnel under the Hudson River and being a "surveyor, laborer, prospector, trapper, and stagecoach driver, among many other jobs" during an almost six-year stay in Alaska.[2]

Military service[edit]

Holt was prevented from serving in World War I because of "chronic foot problems" that resulted from frostbite that he suffered during his time in Alaska.[2] At the start of World War II, he enlisted in the United States Army at the age of 54, at the request of General George C. Marshall so that Holt could be a horse buyer for the United States Cavalry.

Film career[edit]

Lila Lee is embraced by Holt in a publicity still for William C. deMille's 1921 silent drama After the Show.

Holt began in Hollywood with stunt work and bit parts in serials and at Universal Pictures worked as a supporting player for Francis Ford and his brother John Ford, and Grace Cunard.

In his film debut, Holt rode a horse down a steep embankment into the Russian River in a scene for Salomy Jane. The stunt cracked some of Holt's ribs and injured the horse so badly that it had to be destroyed. The film, which was considered lost for years, was included in the DVD released 2011 anthology Treasures 5 The West 1898—1938 by the National Film Preservation Foundation after a print was discovered in Australia.[2]

Holt's dapper mustache, prominent jaw, and quick-with-his-fists manner, personified rugged masculinity. Holt became Columbia Pictures' most reliable leading man, and scored personal successes in three Frank Capra action dramas: Submarine (1928), Flight (1929) and Dirigible (1931). Holt's no-nonsense characterizations were eclipsed by younger, tough-talking actors like James Cagney and Chester Morris, although he continued to work low-budget action features, mostly for Columbia through 1940. It came to an end when he argued with studio chief Harry Cohn who thought the actor so arrogant that he committed him to a secondary role in a 15-chapter serial Holt of the Secret Service (1941) with accompanying publicity to introduce him to that new type of film product audience but he left Columbia for other studios.

Jack Holt and Seena Owen in Victory

He would become an enduring member of that cowboy fraternity through Trail of Robin Hood (1950) joining others: Roy Rogers, Allan Lane, Tom Keene, Tom Tyler, Kermit Maynard, and Rex Allen. His children established their own film careers: Tim Holt in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), with Jack as a grubby vagrant and Jennifer Holt, mostly in Universal Pictures westerns. They performed together on the "Drifty" episode of "All Star Western Theater" (KNX-CBS Pacific Network, 1946/47) as a father/son/daughter trio featuring a dramatic sketch and additional entertainment by Foy Willing and the Riders of the Purple Sage.[4]

Personal life[edit]

Holt married divorcee Margaret Wood in 1917. Her father, tycoon Henry Morton Stanley-Wood, disowned her because she married an actor; they later made up after he had lost most of his money in the Great Depression. She had a daughter when they married, and together they had a son, Charles John Holt III, and a daughter, Elizabeth Marshall Holt. Better known as Tim and Jennifer, respectively, both of them became actors in western films.[2]

Death[edit]

Original caption: "Howard C. Hickman, husband and director of Bessie Barriscale, shows leading man Jack Holt how to make love to Mrs. Hickman." This appears to be a production still from Kitty Kelly, M.D. (1919). If so, the cameraman behind the Bell & Howell model 2709 is Eugene Gaudio.

Jack Holt died in 1951 of a heart attack.[5]

Contribution[edit]

Jack Holt has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6313-½ Hollywood Blvd for his contribution to the motion picture industry.[6] Holt was the visual inspiration for Chester Gould's "Dick Tracy" and Al Capp's "Fearless Fosdick."

Margaret Mitchell, although having no say in the casting for Gone With the Wind (1939), expressed her preference of Jack Holt as Rhett Butler, because her personal favorite, Charles Boyer, had a French accent.[7]

Selected filmography[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Source Citation: Year: 1900; Census Place: Bronx, New York, New York; Roll: 1127; Page: 17A; line 15; Enumeration District: 1041; FHL microfilm: 1241127.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Glenn, Justin (2016). The Washingtons. Volume 7, Part 1: Generation Eleven of the Presidential Branch. Savas Publishing. pp. 210–211. ISBN 9781940669328. Retrieved 25 December 2017.
  3. ^ http://www9.vmi.edu/archiverosters/show.asp?page=details&ID=5590&rform=search; viewed 1/18/2014
  4. ^ "All-Star Western Theatre". Radio Archives. Archived from the original on 25 December 2017. Retrieved 25 December 2017.
  5. ^ http://projects.latimes.com/hollywood/star-walk/jack-holt/
  6. ^ "Jack Holt | Hollywood Walk of Fame". www.walkoffame.com. Retrieved 2016-06-25.
  7. ^ Anne Edwards, Road to Tara: The Life of Margaret Mitchell (New Haven and New York: Ticknor and Fields, 1983)

External links[edit]