Celeste Holm

A witty and gifted golden age veteran who amassed a daunting list of credits across three mediums, actress Celeste Holm initially planned to become a ballerina before developing a love of acting that blossomed when she ... Read more »
Born: 04/28/1917 in New York City, New York, USA


Actor (70)

College Debts 2014 (Movie)

Grandma GG (Actor)

Whoopi 2004 (Tv Show)


AFI's 100 Years..100 Heroes and Villains 2002 - 2003 (TV Show)


Broadway Legends 2001 - 2002 (TV Show)


Third Watch 2002 (Tv Show)


Promised Land 1996 - 2000 (Tv Show)


The Beat 1999 - 2000 (Tv Show)


Touched By an Angel 1996 - 2000 (Tv Show)


Still Breathing 1998 (Movie)

Ida (Actor)

The 70th Annual Academy Awards 1997 - 1998 (TV Show)


Talking With 1994 - 1995 (TV Show)


The Hollywood Fashion Machine 1994 - 1995 (TV Show)


The 65th Annual Academy Awards 1992 - 1993 (TV Show)


Cheers 1992 (Tv Show)


The 19th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards 1991 - 1992 (TV Show)


Easy Come, Easy Go 1989 - 1990 (TV Show)


In Vino Veritas 1989 - 1990 (TV Show)


Only the Good Die Young 1989 - 1990 (TV Show)


Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade 1986 - 1987 (TV Show)


Three Men and A Baby 1987 (Movie)

Jack's Mother (Actor)

Marilyn Monroe: Beyond the Legend 1985 - 1986 (TV Show)


Jessie 1984 - 1985 (TV Show)


Archie Bunker's Place 1979 - 1983 (TV Show)


The Shady Hill Kidnapping 1981 - 1982 (TV Show)


Midnight Lace 1980 - 1981 (TV Show)


Backstairs at the White House 1978 - 1979 (TV Show)


The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover 1977 (Movie)

Florence Hollister (Actor)

Bittersweet Love 1976 (Movie)

Marian (Actor)

Swing Out, Sweet Land 1975 - 1976 (TV Show)


The Delphi Bureau 1971 - 1972 (TV Show)


Tom Sawyer 1972 (Movie)

Aunt Polly (Actor)

Nancy 1970 - 1971 (TV Show)


Doctor, You've Got to Be Kidding 1966 (Movie)

Louise Halloran (Actor)

Kilroy 1964 - 1965 (TV Show)


Alcoa Premiere 1961 - 1963 (TV Show)


The United States Steel Hour 1953 - 1963 (TV Show)


Zane Grey Theater 1956 - 1962 (TV Show)


Bachelor Flat 1961 (Movie)

Helen Bushmill (Actor)

The Lux Video Theater 1950 - 1960 (TV Show)


Jack and the Beanstalk 1956 - 1957 (TV Show)


High Society 1956 (Movie)

Liz Imbrie (Actor)

The Tender Trap 1955 (Movie)

Sylvia Crewes (Actor)

Hollywood Opening Night 1950 - 1953 (TV Show)


All About Eve 1950 (Movie)

Karen Richards (Actor)

Gentleman's Agreement 1947 (Movie)

Anne (Actor)

Alchemy (TV Show)


Backstory (TV Show)


Captains and the Kings (TV Show)


Carnival in Costa Rica (Movie)

Celeste (Actor)

Champagne for Caesar (Movie)

Flame O'Neil (Actor)

Chicken Every Sunday (Movie)

Emily Hefferen (Actor)

Climax! (TV Show)


Come to the Stable (Movie)

Sister Scholastica (Actor)

Death Cruise (TV Show)


Everybody Does It (Movie)

Doris Boreland (Actor)

Loving (TV Show)


Murder By the Book (TV Show)


Nora's Christmas Gift (TV Show)


Once You Meet a Stranger (TV Show)


Polly (TV Show)


Polly Comin' Home! (TV Show)


Road Show (TV Show)


The Delphi Bureau (TV Show)


The Love Boat II (TV Show)


The Snake Pit (Movie)

Grace (Actor)

The Underground Man (TV Show)


This Girl For Hire (TV Show)


Three Little Girls in Blue (Movie)

Miriam (Actor)


A witty and gifted golden age veteran who amassed a daunting list of credits across three mediums, actress Celeste Holm initially planned to become a ballerina before developing a love of acting that blossomed when she made her mark on Broadway in "Oklahoma!" (1943-48) and "Bloomer Girl" (1944-46). Proficient at acting, singing and dancing, Holm was a natural for the movies and signed with 20th Century Fox in 1946, making her film debut in "Three Little Girls in Blue" (1946) before winning an Oscar for her supporting role in "Gentleman's Agreement" (1947). From there, she did especially fine work in "Come to the Stable" (1949) and "All About Eve" (1950), but Holm returned to the stage with "Affairs of State" (1950-52) and as a replacement lead performer in the Broadway juggernauts "The King and I" (1951-54), while appearing sporadically on screen in films like "The Tender Trap" (1955) and "High Society" (1956). Holm also worked frequently on television as a guest star and recurring performer on a handful of series that often only lasted a season, though she received acclaim for her work on "Insight" (Syndicated, 1960-1983) and "Backstairs at the White House" (NBC, 1979). Even after decades of distinguished work in a commendable variety of roles, which included one of her last appearances on the series "Promised Land" (CBS, 1996-99), Holm always displayed energy and conviction at an age when most performers happily settle into retirement and kept performing right into the next century.

Born on April 29, 1917 in New York, NY, Holm was raised by her father, Theodore, an insurance adjuster for Lloyd's of London, and her mother, Jean, a portrait artist and author. After attending University High School for Girls in Chicago, Holm received her post-secondary education at City College of New York and the University of Chicago, where she studied in the drama department. While in Paris, she attended Lycee Victor Duryui and the Sorbonne, while also spending a number of years studying singing and ballet, the latter being the discipline she originally hoped to adopt. She went on to perform summer stock in Pennsylvania, serving as an understudy for a production of "Hamlet" (1936) starring Leslie Howard and acting in a touring production of "The Women." Holm soon made her Broadway debut in the comedy "Gloriana" (1938), though she lasted only five performances. Also that year, she entered into marriage with director-actor-playwright Ralph Nelson, with whom she had a son named after her father. They divorced three years later.

After a turn in "The Time of Your Life" (1939), which offered her a more significant part, as well as additional roles in a handful of Broadway productions that had brief runs, Holm found stardom playing Ado Annie in the original cast of the Rodgers & Hammerstein smash "Oklahoma!" (1943-48). Her amusing rendition of the song "I Cain't Say No" was considered among the highlights of the show and Holm also utilized her vocal talents by performing at various swanky New York City venues, including the Plaza Hotel. Upon finishing her "Oklahoma!" obligations, Holm joined the cast of "Bloomer Girl" (1944-46), a production designed specifically for her, and enjoyed another success. Following a USO tour of Europe, Holm was courted by several movie studios and finally signed with 20th Century Fox, which had given her an expensive, Technicolor screen test alongside performers like Vincent Price and Sir Cedric Hardwicke. Holm's contract with the studio got off to an inauspicious start, however, when she was placed in a pair of forgettable musicals, "Three Little Girls in Blue" (1946) and "Carnival in Costa Rica" (1947).

Despite Holm's obvious abilities and physical appeal, the studio never gave her the lead role in any pictures, which was odd considering her superb performance in Elia Kazan's study of anti-Semitic bigotry, "Gentleman's Agreement" (1947), which earned her the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. She also garnered much exposure and praise for the superior film noir "Road House" (1948) and the mental breakdown saga "The Snake Pit" (1948), while "Come to the Stable" (1949) and the much lauded Bette Davis drama, "All About Eve" (1950) brought her additional Oscar nominations. While on loan out, Holm finally enjoyed top billing as the lead actress of "Champagne for Caesar" (1950), a raucous satire of game shows that also worked as an offbeat romantic comedy. Holm preferred working on the stage and asked to be let out of her contract with Fox. The studio agreed and Holm was soon back on Broadway in "Affairs of State" (1950-52) and did a turn in the cast of "The King and I" (1951-54). She did make the occasional movie like "The Tender Trap" (1955) and "High Society" (1956), and also worked on television, where Holm's stage experience made her a prime candidate for programs like "Lux Video Theatre" (CBS/NBC, 1950-59), "Schlitz Playhouse of Stars" (CBS, 1951-59), and "Goodyear Television Playhouse" (NBC, 1951-57).

Of course, Holm made attempts to launch her own series with "Honestly, Celeste!" (CBS, 1954), only to be met with failure after only a few weeks on air. Meanwhile, around the time that she was on Broadway in "Invitation to a March" (1960-61), Holm married actor Wesley Addy, with whom she would appear in such off-Broadway productions as "A Month in the Country" (1963) and later "With Love and Laughter" (1982). Holm replaced Angela Lansbury in the title role of "Mame" (1966-70) and would return to the role in 1972 for a touring presentation of the popular musical comedy. She also found time to guest star on a number of primetime programs and played the Fairy Godmother in a television production of "Cinderella" (CBS, 1965) alongside such notables as Ginger Rogers, Walter Pidgeon, and a young Lesley Ann Warren. From there, she had another taste of episodic television as a cast member of the short-lived sitcom "Nancy" (NBC, 1970-71), which was followed by roles in "Tom Sawyer" (1973) and "Bittersweet Love" (1976). Holm went on to grace the successful miniseries "Captains and the Kings" (NBC, 1976) and "Backstairs at the White House" (NBC, 1979), the latter earning her an Emmy nomination for supporting actress.

As a guest star, Holm amassed an impressive résumé that included parts on popular shows like "Archie Bunker's Place" (CBS, 1979-1983) and "Falcon Crest" (CBS, 1981-1990), while on the stage she earned acclaim for her one woman show "Paris Was Yesterday" (1979), which she performed off-Broadway. Holm made the news in 1982, when she and performers like Susan Sarandon, Michael Moriarty, and Treat Williams were arrested for civil disobedience when they tried to stop construction crews from demolishing the Helen Hayes and Morosco theatres, following an unsuccessful legal bid to the Supreme Court. Also at the time, she was appointed to the National Arts Councile by then-President Ronald Reagan, and enjoyed box office success with her first film in a decade, "Three Men and a Baby" (1987). Back on the small screen, she had a successful run as a bag lady on the soap opera "Loving" (ABC, 1983-1995), and was a regular on the primetime dramas "Promised Land" (CBS, 1996-99) and "The Beat" (UPN, 2000). Meanwhile, "I Hate Hamlet" (1991) marked her last appearance on the Great White Way.

During the latter part of her career, Holm also served on a number of boards, including the National Endowment for the Arts, and served as head of the New Jersey Motion Picture and Television Commission. But her last years were marred by a legal battle after she had a falling out with her two sons, one of whom was computer pioneer Ted Nelson. The conflict revolved around Holm's fifth husband, opera singer Frank Basile, whom she married in 2004 at the age of 87. Basile was 46 years younger than Holm, whom the children claimed was suffering from Alzheimer's disease and thus not able to properly manage her affairs. The sons alleged that Basile was intentionally cutting Holm off from the family in order to gain control of her finances. Regardless, Holm continued to act well into her 90s, including appearances in the movies "Driving Me Crazy" (2012) and "College Debts" (2012). Having suffered from ill health in her final decade, including skin cancer, ulcers, a collapsed lung, pacemaker and a hip replacement, Holm was admitted to New York's Roosevelt Hospital in June 2012 while suffering dehydration following a fire in her Central Park West building. She had a heart attack in the hospital, but asked to be released to convalesce in her home. Holm died on July 15, 2012 due to complications from her recent setbacks. She was 95 years old.

By John Charles


Wesley Addy Actor

Married May 22, 1966 until his death Dec. 31, 1996

Frank Basile

Married April 29, 2004 until her death July 15, 2012

Francis Davies

Married Jan. 7, 1940; received into the Roman Catholic church for their wedding Divorced May 8, 1945

A. Dunning

Married March 21, 1946 Divorced May 6, 1953

Daniel Dunning

Born November 1946; father, A. Schuyler Dunning

Theodor Holm

Norwegian Worked for Lloyd's of London

Jean Holm


Ralph Nelson Director

Married 1936 Divorced 1939

Theodore Nelson

Born May 1937; father, Ralph Nelson


City College of New York

New York , New York

University of Chicago

Chicago , Illinois

Lycee Victor Duruy


University High School for Girls

Chicago , Illinois





Announced retirement from big screen roles


Appeared in the romantic comedy "Alchemy," starring Tom Cavanagh and Sarah Chalke


Returned to the stage as co-star of "Don Juan in Hell" at off-Broadway's Irish Repertory Theater


Appeared in recurring role on the UPN police drama "The Beat"


Again made one-shot return to films as Brendan Fraser's grandmother in "Still Breathing"


Played mother of Gerald McRaney on the CBS series "Promised Land"; also made appearances in the same role on CBS' "Touched By and Angel"


Returned to Broadway in "I Hate Hamlet"


Reprised role of Miss Snow in "Polly Comin' Home!" (NBC)


Landed role of Miss Snow in "Polly," the NBC remake of "Pollyanna"


Portrayed Jaclyn Smith's mom on the TV series "Christine Cromwell" (ABC)


Made one-shot return to films after a decade in "Three Men and a Baby"


Briefly joined the cast of the ABC soap opera "Loving"; co-starring her fourth husband Wesley Addy


Cast as First Lady Florence Harding in "Backstairs at the White House" (NBC); earned Emmy nomination


Returned to stage musicals in the Broadway flop "The Utter Glory of Morrissey Hall"


Last film for ten years, "The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover"


First played writer Janet Flanner in the one-woman show "Paris Was Yesterday" at the George Street Playhouse in New Jersey; reprised role briefly off-Broadway in 1979


Portrayed a nun in the NBC miniseries "Captains and the Kings"


Returned to Broadway as part of the American cast of the British hit "Habeas Corpus"


Resumed feature film career after six year absence, playing Aunt Polly in the musical "Tom Sawyer"


Played a regular role on the ABC series "The Delphi Bureau"


Played the press secretary of the First Lady on the NBC sitcom "Nancy"


Earned an Emmy nomination for an appearance on the syndicated religious-themed program "Insight"


Co-starred in the ABC adaptation of the musical "Meet Me in St. Louis"


Succeeded Angela Lansbury in the title role of the Broadway musical "Mame"; toured in the part from 1967 until 1969


Starred alongside Lesley Ann Warren as the Fairy Godmother in the CBS television production of "Cinderella"


Co-starred in a TV production of "Jack and the Beanstalk" (NBC)


Supported Sinatra, Grace Kelly and Bing Crosby in the musical "High Society"; last film for six years


Offered a fine supporting turn in "The Tender Trap"; first of two films with Frank Sinatra


Starred in the CBS series "Honestly, Celeste!"


Played the role of Anna in the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical "The King and I"


Played a supporting role in the classic film "All About Eve"; received third Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination


Returned to the Broadway stage with "Affairs of State"


Portrayed a French nun opposite Loretta Young in "Come to the Stable"; earned a Best Supporting Oscar nomination


Voiced Addie Ross, the unseen woman who authored the title letter in "A Letter to Three Wives"


Co-starred with Olivia de Havilland in "The Snake Pit"


Received a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in "Gentleman's Agreement"


Made film debut in "Three Little Girls in Blue"


Signed to a movie contract under 20th Century Fox


Starred in the Broadway production of "Bloomer Girl"


Originated the role of Ado Annie in the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical "Oklahoma!"


Landed featured role in the Broadway play "The Time of Your Life" opposite fellow newcomer Gene Kelly


Made Broadway debut in "Glorianna"


First professional role was in a production of "Hamlet," starring Leslie Howard

Bonus Trivia


Holm was knighted by King Olav of Norway in 1979.


She was arrested for protesting the demolition of two classic Broadway theaters in 1982.


Holm was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame in 1992.


"In this country, there is currently too much emphasis on sports, which brings out aggression, whereas the arts bring us together in harmony. Is there any better example of disciplined cooperation than a symphony orchestra?" – Holm quoted in The New York Times, April 25, 1996


About the making of "All About Eve" with Davis: "Bette Davis was so rude, so constantly rude. Why I walked onto the set about the first or second day and said 'Good morning,' and do you know her reply? She said, 'Oh sh*t, good manners.' I never spoke to her again – ever." – Holm to Vanity Fair, April 1999


In 2006, Holm was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the SunDeis Film Festival at Brandeis University.