- Harold Rowe Holbrook, Jr.
February 17, 1925 (age 95)
- Actor, Voice Actor
- Ruby Holbrook (1945–65) Carol Eve Rossen (1966–79) Dixie Carter (1984–2010; her death)
- Aileen Davenport Holbrook, Harold Rowe Holbrook, Sr.
Harold Rowe "Hal" Holbrook, Jr. (born February 17, 1925) is an American film and stage actor. Holbrook first received critical acclaim for a one-man stage show he developed while in college in 1954, 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 a Screen Actors Guild Award, Golden Globe Award and an Academy Award nomination. 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 has won three Primetime Emmy Awards (1971, 1974, 1976) and a Tony Award in 1966 for his portrayal of Twain.
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.
President George W. Bush and Laura Bush pose for a photo with Holbrook (center), a recipient of the National Humanities Medal in the Oval Office on November 14, 2003.
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 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.