Jack Holt (actor)

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Jack Holt
Jack Holt.jpg
Born Charles John Holt
(1888-05-31)May 31, 1888
Fordham, New York, U.S.
Died January 18, 1951(1951-01-18) (aged 62)
Sawtelle, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Occupation Actor
Years active 1914–1951
Spouse(s) Margaret Woods
Three children[1]

Charles John "Jack" Holt Jr. (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 as Charles John Holt,[1][2] in Winchester, Virginia and when in Manhattan, attended Trinity School. He was accepted into the Virginia Military Institute in 1909,[3] but expelled for misbehavior. He ended his fleeting pursuit of becoming an attorney-at-law and took on odd jobs while on the road. He triumphantly rode a horse down a steep embankment into the Russian River in a scene for Salomy Jane, included in the DVD released 2011 anthology Treasures 5 The West 1898—1938 by the National Film Preservation Foundation.[1] He does not seem to have registered for World War I. At the start of World War II, Holt 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.

He seems to have started out in Hollywood with stunt 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.[1]

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.

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.[1][4]


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 and Seena Owen in Victory

Jack Holt died in 1951 from a heart attack in Los Angeles, California and is buried there in the Los Angeles National Cemetery.[5] He was 62 years old.[1]


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."[1]

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]

Partial filmography[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Internet Movie Database. Biography for Jack Holt. Retrieved on August 2, 2009.
  2. ^ Source Citation: Year: 1900; Census Place: Bronx, New York, New York; Roll: 1127; Page: 17A; line 15; Enumeration District: 1041; FHL microfilm: 1241127.
  3. ^ http://www9.vmi.edu/archiverosters/show.asp?page=details&ID=5590&rform=search; viewed 1/18/2014
  4. ^ http://www.radioarchives.com/All_Star_Western_Theatre_p/ra174.htm; viewed December 25, 2013.
  5. ^ "Jack Holt (1888 - 1951) - Find A Grave Memorial". www.findagrave.com. Retrieved 2016-06-25. 
  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]