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Celeste Holm

(American stage, film and television actress)

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Celeste Holm (April 29, 1917 - July 15, 2012) was an American stage, film and television actress, known for her Academy Award-winning performance in Gentleman's Agreement (1947), as well as for her Oscar-nominated performances in Come to the Stable (1949) and All About Eve (1950) and originating the role of Ado Annie in the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Oklahoma! (1943).

Born and raised in New York City, Holm grew up as an only child. Her mother, Jean Parke, was an American portrait artist and author; her father, Theodor Holm, was a Norwegian businessman whose company provided marine adjustment services for Lloyd's of London. Because of her parents' occupations, she traveled often during her youth and attended various schools in Holland, France and the United States. She graduated from University High School for Girls in Chicago, where she performed in many school stage productions. She then studied drama at the University of Chicago before becoming a stage actress in the late 1930s.

Holm's first professional theatrical role was in a production of Hamlet starring Leslie Howard. Her first role on Broadway was a small part in 1938 comedy Gloriana, which lasted five performances. Her first major Broadway part was as Mary L. in William Saroyan's 1940 revival of The Time of Your Life co-starring fellow newcomer Gene Kelly. The role that got her the most recognition from critics and audiences was Ado Annie in the flagship Broadway production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma! in 1943.

After she starred in the Broadway production of Bloomer Girl, 20th Century Fox signed Holm to a movie contract in 1946. She made her film debut that same year in Three Little Girls in Blue, making a startling entrance in a 'Technicolor red' dress singing 'Always a Lady,' a belting Ado Annie-type song, although the character was different-a lady. In 1947 she won an Oscar and Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress in Gentleman's Agreement. After her performance in All About Eve, however, Holm realized she preferred live theater to movie work, and only accepted a few select film roles over the following decade. The most successful of these were the comedy The Tender Trap (1955) and the musical High Society (1956), both of which co-starred Frank Sinatra. She starred as a professor-turned-reporter in New York City in the CBS television series Honestly, Celeste! (fall 1954) and was thereafter a panelist on Who Pays? (1959). She also appeared several times on ABC's The Pat Boone Chevy Showroom.

In 1958, she starred as a reporter in an unsold television pilot called The Celeste Holm Show, based on the book No Facilities for Women. Holm also starred in the musical The Utter Glory of Morrissey Hall. In 1965, she played the Fairy Godmother alongside Lesley Ann Warren in the CBS production of Cinderella. In 1970-71, she was featured on the NBC sitcom Nancy, with Renne Jarrett, John Fink and Robert F. Simon. In the story line, Holm played Abby Townsend, the press secretary of the First Lady of the United States and the chaperon of Jarrett's character, Nancy Smith, the President's daughter.

During the 1970s and 1980s, Holm did more screen acting, with roles in films such as Tom Sawyer and Three Men and a Baby, and in television series (often as a guest star) such as Columbo, The Eleventh Hour, Archie Bunker's Place and Falcon Crest. In 1979, she played the role of First Lady Florence Harding in the television mini-series, Backstairs at the White House. She was a regular on the ABC soap opera Loving, appearing first in 1986 in the role of Lydia Woodhouse and again as Isabelle Dwyer Alden #2 from 1991 to 1992. She last appeared on television in the CBS television series Promised Land (1996-99).


Holm received numerous honors during her lifetime, including the 1968 Sarah Siddons Award for distinguished achievement in Chicago theatre; she was appointed to the National Arts Council by then-President Ronald Reagan, knighted by King Olav of Norway, and inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame in 1992. She remained active for social causes as a spokesperson for UNICEF, and for occasional professional engagements. From 1995 she was Chairman of the Board of Arts Horizons, a not-for-profit arts-in-education organization.
In 2006, Holm was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the SunDeis Film Festival at Brandeis University.

Holm was a guest at the 2009 Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention in Aberdeen, Maryland. Some of the movies in which she appeared were screened at the festival, and the un-aired television pilot for Meet Me in St. Louis was shown. She received an honorary award during the dinner banquet at the close of the event.

Personal life
- Holm's first marriage was to Ralph Nelson in 1936. Their son, Internet pioneer and sociologist Ted Nelson (né Theodor Holm Nelson; born 1937), was raised by his maternal grandparents. The marriage ended in 1939. In his 2010 memoir, Possiplex, her son, credited with coining the term 'hypertext', described this and other choices as 'entirely the right decisions'. He reportedly did not name his mother in the book.
- Holm married Francis Emerson Harding Davies, an English auditor, on January 7, 1940. Davies was a Roman Catholic, and she was received into the Roman Catholic Church for the purposes of their 1940 wedding; the marriage was dissolved on May 8, 1945.
- From 1946 to 1952, Holm was married to airline public relations executive A. Schuyler Dunning, with whom she had a second son, businessman Daniel Dunning.
- From 1961 to 1996, she was married to fellow thespian Wesley Addy (1913-1996), until his death at age 83 in 1996.
- On April 29, 2004, her 87th birthday, Holm married opera singer Frank Basile, age 41. The couple met in October 1999 at a fundraiser at which Basile was hired to sing. Soon after their marriage, Holm and Basile sued to overturn the irrevocable trust that was created in 2002 by Daniel Dunning, Holm's younger son. The trust was ostensibly set up to shelter Holm's financial assets from taxes, although Basile contended the real purpose of the trust was to keep him away from her money. The lawsuit began a five-year battle with her sons, which cost millions of dollars, and according to an article in The New York Times, left Holm and her husband with a fragile hold on their home, which Holm purchased for $10,000 cash in 1953 from her film earnings, and which is now believed to be worth at least $2,000,000.

Health and death

According to her husband, Holm had been treated for memory loss since 2002, suffered skin cancer, bleeding ulcers and a collapsed lung, and had hip replacements and pacemakers.
In June 2012, Holm was admitted to New York's Roosevelt Hospital with dehydration after a fire in Robert De Niro's apartment in the same Manhattan building. She suffered a heart attack on July 13 in the facility, dying at home on July 15, where she chose to spend her final days. She is survived by husband Frank Basile and her sons.


- Three Little Girls in Blue (1946)
- Carnival in Costa Rica (1947)
- Road House (1948)
- The Snake Pit (1948)
- Chicken Every Sunday (1949)
- A Letter to Three Wives (1949); voiceover as "Addie Ross"
- Come to the Stable (1949)
- Everybody Does It (1949)
- Champagne for Caesar (1950)
- All About Eve (1950)
- The Tender Trap (1955)
- High Society (1956)
- Bachelor Flat (1962)
- Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella (1965)
- Doctor, You've Got to Be Kidding! (1967)
- Tom Sawyer (1973)
- Bittersweet Love (1976)
- The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover (1977)
- Backstairs at the White House (1979)
- The Shady Hill Kidnapping (1982); teleplay by John Cheever
- Three Men and a Baby (1987)
- Once You Meet a Stranger (1996)
- Still Breathing (1997)
- Broadway: The Golden Age, by the Legends Who Were There (2003); documentary
- Alchemy (2005)

Stage appearances

- Gloriana [Broadway] - Cast as Lady Mary. (1938)
- Another Sun [Broadway] - Cast as Maria. (1940)
- The Return of the Vagabond [Broadway] - Cast as His Daughter. (1940)
- The Time of Your Life [Broadway] - Cast as Mary L. (1940)
- Eight O'Clock Tuesday [Broadway] - Cast as Marcia Godden. (1941)
- My Fair Ladies [Broadway] - Cast as Lady Keith-Odlyn. (1941)
- Papa is All [Broadway] - Cast as Emma. (1942)
- All the Comforts of Home [Broadway] - Cast as Fifi Oritanski. (1942)
- The Damask Cheek [Broadway] - Cast as Calla Longstreth. (1942)
- Oklahoma! [Broadway] - Original Production - Cast as Ado Annie Carnes. (1943)
- Bloomer Girl [Broadway] - Original Production - Cast as Evelina. (1944)
- Affairs of State [Broadway] - Cast as Irene Elliott. (1950)
- The King and I [Broadway] - Original Production - Cast as Anna Leonowens [Replacement]. (1951)
- Anna Christie [Broadway] - Cast as Anna Christopherson. (1952)
- His and Hers [Broadway] - Cast as Maggie Palmer. (1954)
- Interlock [Broadway] - Cast as Mrs. Price. (1958)
- Third Best Sport [Broadway] - Cast as Helen Sayre. (1958)
- Invitation to a March [Broadway] - Original Production - Cast as Camilla Jablonski. (1960)
- Mame [Broadway] - Original Production - Cast as Mame Dennis [Replacement]. (1966)
- Candida [Broadway] -Cast as Candida. (1970)
- Babylove [Replacement].
- The Grass Harp [Broadway] - Original Production. (1971)
- Mama [Broadway] - Closed on the road. (1972)
- Habeas Corpus [Broadway] - Cast as Lady Rumpers - A Pillar of the Empire. (1974)
- The Utter Glory of Morrissey Hall [Broadway] - Original Broadway Production - Cast as Julia Faysle Headmistress.(1979)
- I Hate Hamlet [Broadway] - Cast as Lillian Troy. (1991)
- Allegro [Off-Broadway] - Encores! Concert - Cast as Grandma Taylor. (1994)
TV appearances
- Columbo in "Old Fashioned Murder" (1976)
- Honestly, Celeste! as Celeste Anders
- Jessie (1985) as Molly Hayden
- Kilroy as Mrs. Fuller
- Loving as Lydia Woodhouse (1986) / Isabelle Dwyer Alden (#2) (1991-1992)
- Nancy Abigail as 'Abby' Townsend
- Promised Land as Hattie Greene
- The Academy Awards as Herself - Host
- The Delphi Bureau as Sybil Van Loween (pilot film)
- Archie Bunker's Place as Estelle Harris
- Falcon Crest as Anna Rossini
- The New Hollywood Squares as Herself
- Alcoa Premiere as Laura Bennett in "Cry Out in Silence"
- American Playhouse as Herself in "The Shady Hill Kidnapping"
- Burke's Law as Helen Forsythe in "Who Killed the Kind Doctor?"
- Celebrity Time as Herself on 5/6/1951
- Cheers as Grandmother Gaines in "No Rest For the Woody"
- Christine Cromwell as Samantha Cromwell in "Vito Veritas"
- Climax! as Mary Miller in "The Empty Room Blues"
- Columbo as Phyllis Brandt in "Old Fashioned Murder"
- Disneyland as Deirdre Wainwright in "Bluegrass Special"
- Dr. Kildare as Nurse Jane Munson in "The Pack Rat" and "Prima Donna"
- Fantasy Island #1978# as Sister Veronica in "Look-Alikes" / "The Winemaker"
- Fantasy Island #1978# as Mabel Jarvis in "The Beachcomber" / "The Last Whodunit"
- Follow the Sun as Miss Bullfinch in "The Irresistible Miss Bullfinch"
- Ford Startime as Host/Special Guest Star in "Fun Fair"
- Four Star Revue as Guest on November 8, 1950
- The Fugitive #1965-1967#
- Goodyear Television Playhouse as Maggie Travis in "The Princess Back Home"
- Great Performances as Performer in "Talking With"
- Hallmark Hall of Fame as Phoebe Meryll in "The Yeoman of the Guard"
- Inside U.S.A. with Chevrolet as Herself in "Celeste Holm"
- Insight as Mrs. Berns in "Fat Hands and a Diamond Ring"
- Kraft Music Hall as Herself in "Celeste Holm"
- Long Hot Summer as Libby Rankin in "Face Of Fear"
- Lucan in "You Can't Have My Baby"
- Magnum, P.I. as Abigail Baldwin in "The Love That Lies"
- Manhunter Clara in "The Truck Murders"
- Matt Houston as Catherine Hershey in "Company Secrets"
- Medical Center as Dr. Linda Wilson in "No Margin for Error"
- Medical Center as Geraldine Stern in "Web of Intrigue"
- Mr. Novak as Guest Star in "An Elephant is Like a Tree"
- Play of the Week as Virginia in "A Clearing in the Woods"
- Producers' Showcase as Mad Meggie in "Jack and the Beanstalk"
- Run for Your Life as Margot Horst in "The Cold, Cold War Of Paul Bryan"
- Schlitz Playhouse of Stars as Guest Star in "Four's a Family"
- Schlitz Playhouse of Stars as Guest Star in "The Wedding Present"
- Spenser: For Hire as Rose in "Haunting"
- Studio 57 as Guest Star in "Robin"
- Stump The Stars as Herself on April 15, 1963
- The Academy Awards as Herself in The 70th Annual Academy Awards
- The Academy Awards as Herself in The 75th Annual Academy Awards
- The Academy Awards as Herself - Performer in The 25th Annual Academy Awards
- The Beat #2000# as Frances Robinson in "Can I Get A Witness?"
- The Beat #2000# as Frances Robinson in "Three Little Words"
- The Colgate Comedy Hour as Guest on 4/15/1951
- The Colgate Comedy Hour as Cameo on 8/7/1955
- The Dick Cavett Show as Herself on October 20, 1972
- The Ed Sullivan Show as Herself in Edith Piaf / Celeste Holm / Betty Comden & Adolph Green / Pat Suzuki"
- The Ed Wynn Show as Guest in Celeste Holm
- The Eleventh Hour #1962# as Billie Hamilton in "How Do I Say I Love You?"
- The F.B.I. as Flo Clementi in "The Executioners" #2#
- The F.B.I. as Flo Clementi in "The Executioners" #1#
- The Fugitive #1963# as Pearl in "Concrete Evidence"
- The Fugitive #1963# as Flo Hagerman in "The Old Man Picked a Lemon"
- The Jimmy Durante Show as Guest on 11/19/1955
- The Jimmy Durante Show as Guest on 11/19/1955
- The Love Boat as Guest Star in "The Buck Stops Here"/"For Better or Worse"/"Bet On It"
- The Love Boat as Eva McFarland in "The Love Boat II"
- The Love Boat as Estelle Castlewood in "A Good & Faithful Servant"/"Secret Life of Burl Smith"/"Tug of War"/"Designated Lover"
- The Lux Video Theatre as Katherine Case in "The Bargain"
- The Lux Video Theatre as Miss Prynne in "Lost Sunday"
- The Lux Video Theatre as Margaret Best in "Second Sight"
- The Lux Video Theatre as Eliza in "The Pacing Goose"
- The Mike Douglas Show as Herself on Week of May 11, 1970
- The Mike Douglas Show as Herself on May 6, 1971
- The Mike Douglas Show as Herself on September 10, 1970
- The Mike Douglas Show as Herself on February 2, 1965
- The Mike Douglas Show as Herself on April 5, 1973
- The Name of the Game as Irene Comdon in "The Brass Ring"
- The Pat Boone Chevy Showroom as Herself on November 28, 1957
- The Rosie O'Donnell Show as Herself in Show #806
- The Streets of San Francisco #1972# as Mrs. Shaninger in "Crossfire"
- The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson as Guest in 700525
- The United States Steel Hour as Madge Collins in "The Bogey Man"
- The Vic Damone Show as Herself on September 24, 1956
- The Virginia Graham Show as Herself on September 4, 1970
- Third Watch as Florence in "Transformed"
- Toast of the Town as Herself in "The Richard Rodgers Story" #Part 2#
- Toast of the Town as Herself in "Tribute to Rodgers & Hammerstein w/Celeste Holm; John Raitt; Florence Henderson"
- Toast of the Town as Herself in "Eartha Kitt / Celeste Holm / John Raitt / Janis Paige"
- Touched by an Angel as Hattie Greene in "Vengeance is Mine" #1#
- Touched by an Angel as Hattie Greene in "Promised Land"
- Touched by an Angel as Hattie Greene in "The Road Home" #1#
- Trapper John, M.D. as Claudia in "The Shattered Image"
- Trapper John, M.D. as Lillie Townsend in "Don't Rain on My Charade"
- We the People as Guest Star in "Edith Piaf/Celest Holm"
- What's My Line? as Mystery Guest in EPISODE #446
- What's My Line? as Guest Panelist in EPISODE #306
- What's My Line? as Mystery Guest in EPISODE #41
- Wonder Woman #1979# as Dolly Tucker in "I Do, I Do"
- Zane Grey Theater as Sarah Kimball in Fugitive

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