Holbrook in the 1977 TV adaptation of the play Our Town.
Harold Rowe Holbrook, Jr.|
February 17, 1925
Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
|Alma mater||Denison University|
Mark Twain Tonight|
Into the Wild
All the President's Men
Carol Eve Rossen (1966–79)
(1984–2010; her death)
Harold Rowe "Hal" Holbrook, Jr. (born February 17, 1925) is an American film and stage actor. Holbrook first received critical acclaim in 1954 for a one-man stage show he developed while in college, performing as Mark Twain.
He 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. He was known for his role as Abraham Lincoln in the 1976 miniseries Lincoln. He has also appeared in such other films as Julia (1977), The Fog (1980), Creepshow (1982), The Firm (1993) and Men of Honor (2000).
Holbrook's role in Into the Wild (2007) earned him both Screen Actors Guild Award and Academy Award nominations for Best Supporting Actor. In his later career, Holbrook had a recurring role on the FX series Sons of Anarchy and has appeared as Francis Preston Blair in Steven Spielberg's Lincoln (2012).
Holbrook was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the son of Aileen (Davenport) Holbrook (1905–1987), a vaudeville dancer, and Harold Rowe Holbrook, Sr (1902–1982). 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. Holbrook served in the United States 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 The Ed Sullivan Show on February 12, 1956. 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 joined The Lamns in 1955 where he began developing his one-man show, MARK TWAIN TONIGHT. 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, 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 film That Certain Summer. 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 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 was the narrator on the Ken Burns documentary Lewis & Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery in 1997.
In 1999, Holbrook was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame.
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. It 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.
Holbrook appeared as a featured guest star in a 2006 episode of the HBO series The Sopranos and the NCIS episode "Escaped". 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, as well as appearing in additional fifth episode in the final season. He also had a multiple-episode arc on The Event, an American television series on NBC, appearing in the 2010–2011 season.
In 2011, Holbrook appeared in Water for Elephants. In 2012, Steven Spielberg cast Holbrook to play Francis Preston Blair in Lincoln. His recent films are Gus Van Sant's Promised Land (2012) and the animated film Planes: Fire & Rescue (2014).
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 actress 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.
Holbrook is a converted Christian, even though he tends to criticize the Bible at times. He is a registered Independent, but tends to lean more liberal. Holbrook has criticized the Republican Party since Barack Obama took office. Holbrook is the great-uncle of fellow actor Boyd Holbrook.
|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||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|
|1984||George Washington||John Adams||TV miniseries|
|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|
|1988||The Fortunate Pilgrim||Dr. Andrew McKay|
|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||Beauty||Alexander Miller||TV movie|
|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||The Legend of the Three Trees||Narrator||Voice|
|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|
|2016||Go with Me / Blackway||Whizzer|
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 Lead Actor - Drama Series
- (1971) Won - The Bold Ones: The Senator
- Outstanding Informational Series
- Outstanding Performance in Informational Programing
- Actor of the Year (Retired category)
- "Hal Holbrook Biography (1925-)". Film Reference.com. Retrieved April 12, 2015.
- "Hal Holbrook". Biography.com. Retrieved April 12, 2015.
- "Hal Holbrook is always up for challenging fare". LA Times.com. Retrieved April 12, 2015.
- "Veteran actor Hal Holbrook's loving his Oscar nod". CNN.com. Retrieved April 12, 2015.
- "Hal Holbrook at the Internet Broadway Database". Awards.
- "Holyoke History Room & Archives Valley Players Collection (1941-1993). HPLA2007.527". Holyokehistory.com. Retrieved April 12, 2015.
- "New York World's Fair '64". Westland.net. Retrieved April 12, 2015.
- 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.
- "Hal Holbrook". Master Works Broadway.com. Retrieved April 12, 2015.
- 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.
- "Deep Throat is W. Mark Felt. And Hal Holbrook. And Kirsten Dunst. And . . .". New York Magazine.com. Retrieved April 12, 2015.
- "On Stage: New class of theater hall of famers".
- "Men of Honor (2000)". The New York Times.com. Retrieved April 12, 2015.
- "That Evening Sun". Variety. Retrieved March 26, 2009.
- "Nashville Film Festival". PR Web.com. Retrieved April 24, 2009.
- "Hal Holbrook Joins Sons of Anarchy". Cinemablend.com. Retrieved April 12, 2015.
- "Hal Holbrook Totally Owns the "Water for Elephants" Trailer". NBC New York.com. Retrieved April 12, 2015.
- Gerhardt, Tina (31 December 2012). "Matt Damon Exposes Fracking in Promised Land". The Progressive.
- "'Planes: Fire & Rescue' Interview with Hal Holbrook". Movie Web.com. Retrieved April 12, 2015.
- "Hal & Dixie". Carroll County Chamber.com. Retrieved April 12, 2015.
- Biography for Hal Holbrook at the Internet Movie Database
- "Hal Holbrook, bringing 'Mark Twain' to PAC, is ready to vent". Postcresent.com. Retrieved May 10, 2015.
- "Hal Holbrook Speaks Out Against Republican Party Leaders". LA Times.com. Retrieved May 10, 2015.
- "Hal Holbrook -Awards". IMDB.com. Retrieved April 12, 2015.
- Holbrook, Hal (1959). Mark Twain Tonight: An Actor's Portrait. New York: Ives Washburn.
- Young, Jordan R. (1989). Acting solo: the art of one-man shows. Beverly Hills: Moonstone Press. ISBN 978-0-940410-85-5.
- Holbrook, Hal (2011). Harold: The Boy Who Became Mark Twain. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. ISBN 978-1-4299-6901-7.
|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)
- 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