Jump to content

Hal Holbrook


Recommended Posts

Harold Rowe "Hal" Holbrook, Jr. (born 17 February 1925) is an American actor. His television roles include Abraham Lincoln in the 1976 TV series Lincoln, Hays Stowe on The Bold Ones: The Senator and Capt. Lloyd Bucher on Pueblo. He is also known for his role in the 2007 film Into the Wild, for which he was nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award and an Academy Award. He has also done a one-man show as Mark Twain since 1954.

Early life

Holbrook was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the son of Aileen Davenport Holbrook, a vaudeville dancer, and Harold Rowe Holbrook, Sr. He was raised in South Weymouth, Massachusetts. 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 US 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 12 February 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 did a special production for the New York World's Fair (1964, 1965) for the Bell Telephone Pavilion. Jo Mielziner conceived of an innovative audio-visual ride experience and utilized 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 movie That Certain Summer said to be the first television movie to portray homosexuality in a sympathetic, non-judgmental light. 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 an Emmy for Lead Actor in a Dramatic Series in the 1970 TV 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".

Early in his career Holbrook worked on stage 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 has appeared in at least six movies in which he is part of a conspiracy: Fletch Lives, Magnum Force, The Star Chamber, Capricorn One, All the President's Men, and The Firm.

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 20 December 2007, Holbrook was nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award for his work in the film. In late August 2007 through mid-September he starred as the narrator in the Hartford Stage production of Thornton Wilder's Our Town.

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 22 April 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 multi-episode arc on The Event, an American television series, airing on NBC in the 2010-1011 season.

Holbrook's latest film was Water for Elephants (2011).

Personal life

Holbrook has been married three times, and has three children. He married Ruby Holbrook on 22 September 1945, and they had two children, Victoria Holbrook and David Holbrook. They divorced in 1965, and on 28 December 1966 he married Carol Eve Rossen. They had one child, Eve Holbrook, and they divorced on 14 June 1983. He married Dixie Carter on 27 May 1984. They remained married until her death on 10 April 2010.


The Group (1966)

Wild in the Streets (1968)

They Only Kill Their Masters (1972)

Jonathan Livingston Seagull (1973) (voice)

Magnum Force (1973)

All the President's Men (1976)

Midway (1976)

Julia (1977)

Rituals (1977)

Capricorn One (1978)

The Awakening Land (1978) (T.V.)

The Fog (1979)

When Hell Was in Session (1979) (T.V.)

Murder by Natural Causes (1979) (T.V.)

The Legend of the Golden Gun (1979) (T.V.)

The Kidnapping of the President (1980)

The Killing of Randy Webster (1981) (T.V.)

Creepshow (1982)

The Star Chamber (1983)

Girls Night Out (1983)

North and South Book I (1985) (T.V.)

North and South Book II (1986) (T.V.)

Wall Street (1987)

The Unholy (1988)

Fletch Lives (1989)

Evening Shade (1990–1994) (T.V. Series)

The Firm (1993)

Innocent Victims (1996)

Eye of God (1997)

Cats Don't Dance (1997) (voice)

Hercules (1997) (voice)

Hush (1998)

Walking to the Waterline (1998)

The Bachelor (1999)

Waking the Dead (2000)

Men of Honor (2000)

The Majestic (2001)

The West Wing (2001, 2002)

Seventh Day (2002)

Country Music: The Spirit of America (2003, IMAX)

Shade (2003)

The Sopranos (2006)

NCIS (2006)

Into the Wild (2007)

ER (2008)

That Evening Sun (2009)

Sons of Anarchy (2010)

The Event (2010)

Water for Elephants (2011)

Tower Heist (2011)


Academy Awards

(2008) Nominated - Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role / Into the Wild

Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards

(2008) Nominated - Best Supporting Actor / Into the Wild

Chicago Film Critics Association Awards

(2007) Nominated - Best Supporting Actor / Into the Wild

Online Film Critics Society Awards

(2008) Nominated - Best Supporting Actor / Into the Wild

Screen Actors Guild Awards

(2008) Nominated - Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role / Into the Wild

Primetime Emmy Awards

Outstanding Lead Actor - Miniseries or a Movie -

(1967) Nominated - Mark Twain Tonight!

(1971) Nominated - A Clear and Present Danger

(1973) Nominated - That Certain Summer

(1974) Won - Pueblo

(1976) Won - Sandburg's Lincoln

(1978) Nominated - The Awakening Land

(1969) Nominated - The Whole World is Watching

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

(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





Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...