Holbrook, Hal

Holbrook, Hal (Harold Rowe, Jr.), 1925-2021, American actor, b. Cleveland, Oh. (Denison Univ., BA, 1947). Holbrook was raised by his grandparents in South Weymouth, Ma., before attending Culver Military Academy and then Denison Univ. His college years were interrupted by service in World War II, during which he was stationed in St. John’s, Newfoundland, and began acting in an amateur troupe. Returning to Denison, his drama teacher suggested that he portray Mark Twain as part of a travelling show titled Great Personalities that Holbrook was planning with his first wife. In 1954, Holbrook expanded his portrayal of Twain into a one man show titled Mark Twain Tonight, which established him as an actor. He took the show off-Broadway and recorded an album based on it, both in 1959, and then to Broadway in 1966, winning a Tony Award for his performance, and on television in 1967; he made his final performance as Twain in 2017. In between, Holbrook had established himself as a dependable supporting actor in films and television, most notably portraying Deep Throat in 1976’s All the President’s Men, as a regular performer on the TV comedy Designing Women (1986-1989), and as Francis Preston Blair in Lincoln (2012). He was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role in Into the Wild (2007), and was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame (1999) and awarded a National Humanities Medal (2003).

See his autobiography (2011).

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