Celeste Holm

Actress
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

Filmography

Actor (70)

College Debts 2014 (Movie)

Grandma GG (Actor)

Whoopi 2004 (Tv Show)

Actor

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

Actor

Broadway Legends 2001 - 2002 (TV Show)

Actor

Third Watch 2002 (Tv Show)

Actor

Promised Land 1996 - 2000 (Tv Show)

Actor

The Beat 1999 - 2000 (Tv Show)

Actor

Touched By an Angel 1996 - 2000 (Tv Show)

Actor

Still Breathing 1998 (Movie)

Ida (Actor)

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

Actor

Talking With 1994 - 1995 (TV Show)

Actor

The Hollywood Fashion Machine 1994 - 1995 (TV Show)

Actor

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

Actor

Cheers 1992 (Tv Show)

Actor

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

Actor

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

Actor

In Vino Veritas 1989 - 1990 (TV Show)

Actor

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

Actor

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

Actor

Three Men and A Baby 1987 (Movie)

Jack's Mother (Actor)

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

Actor

Jessie 1984 - 1985 (TV Show)

Actor

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

Actor

The Shady Hill Kidnapping 1981 - 1982 (TV Show)

Actor

Midnight Lace 1980 - 1981 (TV Show)

Actor

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

Actor

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)

Actor

The Delphi Bureau 1971 - 1972 (TV Show)

Actor

Tom Sawyer 1972 (Movie)

Aunt Polly (Actor)

Nancy 1970 - 1971 (TV Show)

Actor

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

Louise Halloran (Actor)

Kilroy 1964 - 1965 (TV Show)

Actor

Alcoa Premiere 1961 - 1963 (TV Show)

Actor

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

Actor

Zane Grey Theater 1956 - 1962 (TV Show)

Actor

Bachelor Flat 1961 (Movie)

Helen Bushmill (Actor)

The Lux Video Theater 1950 - 1960 (TV Show)

Actor

Jack and the Beanstalk 1956 - 1957 (TV Show)

Actor

High Society 1956 (Movie)

Liz Imbrie (Actor)

The Tender Trap 1955 (Movie)

Sylvia Crewes (Actor)

Hollywood Opening Night 1950 - 1953 (TV Show)

Actor

All About Eve 1950 (Movie)

Karen Richards (Actor)

Gentleman's Agreement 1947 (Movie)

Anne (Actor)

Alchemy (TV Show)

Actor

Backstory (TV Show)

Actor

Captains and the Kings (TV Show)

Actor

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)

Actor

Come to the Stable (Movie)

Sister Scholastica (Actor)

Death Cruise (TV Show)

Actor

Everybody Does It (Movie)

Doris Boreland (Actor)

Loving (TV Show)

Actor

Murder By the Book (TV Show)

Actor

Nora's Christmas Gift (TV Show)

Actor

Once You Meet a Stranger (TV Show)

Actor

Polly (TV Show)

Actor

Polly Comin' Home! (TV Show)

Actor

Road Show (TV Show)

Actor

The Delphi Bureau (TV Show)

Actor

The Love Boat II (TV Show)

Actor

The Snake Pit (Movie)

Grace (Actor)

The Underground Man (TV Show)

Actor

This Girl For Hire (TV Show)

Actor

Three Little Girls in Blue (Movie)

Miriam (Actor)

Biography

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

Relationships

Wesley Addy Actor

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

Frank Basile

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

Francis Davies

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

A. Dunning

Husband
Married March 21, 1946 Divorced May 6, 1953

Daniel Dunning

Son
Born November 1946; father, A. Schuyler Dunning

Theodor Holm

Father
Norwegian Worked for Lloyd's of London

Jean Holm

Mother

Ralph Nelson Director

Husband
Married 1936 Divorced 1939

Theodore Nelson

Son
Born May 1937; father, Ralph Nelson

EDUCATION

City College of New York

New York , New York

University of Chicago

Chicago , Illinois

Lycee Victor Duruy

Paris

University High School for Girls

Chicago , Illinois

Sorbonne

Paris

Milestones

2009

Announced retirement from big screen roles

2005

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

2000

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

2000

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

1997

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

1996

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

1991

Returned to Broadway in "I Hate Hamlet"

1990

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

1989

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

1989

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

1987

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

1986

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

1979

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

1979

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

1977

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

1977

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

1976

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

1975

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

1973

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

1972

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

1969

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

1968

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

1966

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

1966

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

1965

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

1956

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

1956

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

1955

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

1954

Starred in the CBS series "Honestly, Celeste!"

1952

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

1950

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

1950

Returned to the Broadway stage with "Affairs of State"

1949

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

1948

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

1948

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

1947

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

1946

Made film debut in "Three Little Girls in Blue"

1946

Signed to a movie contract under 20th Century Fox

1943

Starred in the Broadway production of "Bloomer Girl"

1942

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

1940

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

1938

Made Broadway debut in "Glorianna"

1936

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

Bonus Trivia

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Holm was knighted by King Olav of Norway in 1979.

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

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

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"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

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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

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

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