American actress Celeste Holm is well known for her portrayal of Anne Dettrey in Elia Kazan's “Gentleman's Agreement” (1947), where she took home Oscar and Golden Globe Awards for her performance. She also received Academy Awards nominations for her work in “Come to the Stable” (1949) and “All About Eve” (1950). After “All About Eve,” however, the character player realized she preferred live theater and has since accepted limited movie gigs. Other film credit includes “Tom Sawyer” (1973), “The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover” (1977), “Three Men and a Baby” (1987) and “Still Breathing” (1997). On the small screen, Holm received Emmy nominations for her guest appearance in the series “Insight” (1967) and as Mrs. Florence Harding in the miniseries “Backstairs at the White House” (NBC, 1979). She received a Daytime Emmy nomination for her work on the soap opera “Loving” (1986) and various TV credits include roles in “Honestly, Celeste” (1954), “Nancy” (1970-1971), “Promised Land” (1996 to 1999), “Falcon Crest” (1985) and “The Beat” (2000). Beginning her stage career in the late 1930s, Holm has performed in numerous Broadway plays, including “Oklahoma,” “Bloomer Girl,” “Affairs of State,” “Invitation to the March,” “Mame,” “Candida,” “Habeas Corpus” and “I Hate Hamlet.”
Holm has been inducted into the Hollywood's Walk of Fame for her contribution to television. She was inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame in 1992. She was also the recipient of the 2000 Marco Island Film Festival's Lifetime Achievement Award, the Susan B. Anthony ‘Failure is Impossible' Award at the 2003 High Falls Film Festival, and the Ellis Island Medal of Honor. In 2006, she was presented with one of the first two Lifetime Achievement Awards awarded by the SunDeis Film Festival at Brandeis University.
Holm has participated in a number of charity organizations, including the Theatre Hall of Fame, Easter Seals, Arts Horizons, the Actor's Fund, the National Health Association, the Creative Arts Rehabilitation Center and the New Jersey Motion Picture and TV Commission. She is a spokesperson for UNICEF.
Childhood and Family:
Celeste Holm was born on April 29, 1919, in New York City, New York. She was the only child of Theodor Holm, a Norwegian insurance adjuster for Loyd's of London, and Jean Parke Holm, an American portrait artist and author. Due to her parents' jobs, 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, Illinois, where she performed in many school stage productions. She then studied drama at the University of Chicago.
In 1936, Celeste married Ralph Nelson (born on August 12, 1916, died on December 21, 1987), an American movie and television director, producer, writer and actor of Norwegian origin, but they divorced in 1939. The marriage produced a son named Ted Nelson. After converting to Catholicism, she married Francis Emerson Harding Davies, an English auditor, on January 7, 1940. They divorced on May 8, 1945. On March 21, 1946, she tied the knot with airline public relations executive A. Schuyler Dunning and gave birth to her second son, Daniel, in November that year. The couple divorced on May 6, 1953. She was married to her fourth husband, actor Wesley Addy (born on August 4, 1913), from May 22, 1966, until his death on December 31, 1996. On her 87th birthday, Celeste married opera singer Frank Basile.
All About Eve
Celeste Holm began her stage career in 1936 with a Pennsylvania stock company. Later that same year, she joined a touring company for “Hamlet.” In 1937, she played a role in Clare Boothe's comedy “The Women” and in 1938, made her Broadway debut in the short lived comedy “Glorianna.” She did not score her first major part on Broadway until she was cast as Mary in William Saroyan's Pulitzer Prize winning play “The Time of Your Life,” opposite William Bendix, Eddie Dowling and Gene Kelly. Before the end of the first run, however, she quit and then starred in the play “Another Sun” (1940). Although the production received good reviews, it soon closed.
Holm continued to offer memorable performances in such short lived productions as “The Return of the Vagabond” (1940), a brief second run of “The Time of Your Life” (1940), “Eight O'Clock Tuesday” (1941), and Arthur L. Jarrett and Marcel Klauber's “My Fair Ladies” (1941, as Lady Keith-Odlyn). In 1942, she acted in a production of “Papa is All” and “The Damask Cheek.”
However, Holm did not gain major prominence until she landed the role of the Ado Annie in the Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II musical “Oklahoma,” which opened on Broadway on March 31, 1943. The original Broadway production was directed by Rouben Mamoulian and choreographed by Agnes de Mille and the cast included Alfred Drake, Joan Roberts, Howard Da Silva, Betty Garde, Lee Dixon and Joseph Bulloff. “Oklahoma” was eventually closed on May 29, 1948, after 2,212 performances.
In 1944, Holm starred in the Harold Arlen-E Y Harburg successful musical “Bloomer Girl,” alongside David Brooks, Dooley Wilson and Joan McCracken. Premiering on October 4, 1944, the play ran for 657 performances on Broadway. It was not long before Holm attracted the attention of movie producers and she was signed to 20th Century Fox in 1946. She had a promising debut in “Three Little Girls in Blue” (1946), where she was cast in the supporting role of Miriam Harrington, and was given star billing in her sophomore effort, “Carnival in Costa Rica” (1947), opposite Dick Haymes, Vera-Ellen and Cesar Romero.
Holm's film career gained a significant boost after her performance in “Gentleman's Agreement” (1947), a film adaptation of Laura Z. Hobson's 1947 novel of the same name that was directed by Elia Kazan and starred Gregory Peck. Portraying fashion editor Anne Dettrey in the film, the actress was handed an Academy Award and Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her effort.
Holm next costarred with Ida Lupino, Cornel Wilde, Richard Widmark and O.Z. Whitehead in Jean Negulesco's “Road House” (1948), with Olivia de Havilland, Mark Stevens and Leo Genn in Anatole Litvak's “The Snake Pit” (1948) and Dan Dailey in George Seaton's comedy “Chicken Every Sunday” (1949). She also had an unaccredited voice role in Joseph L. Mankiewicz's “A Letter to Three Wives” (1949), before portraying the role of Sister Scholastica in Henry Koster's “Come to the Stable” (1949). The last role earned her an Oscar nomination in the category of Best Actress in a Supporting Role. She closed out the decade working with Paul Douglas and Linda Darnell in Edmund Goulding's “Everybody Does It” (1949).
Following a performance with Ronald Colman and Vincent Price in Richard Whorf's “Champagne for Caesar” (1950), Holm was cast as Karen Richards in Joseph L. Mankiewicz's star studded production of “All About Eve” (1950), opposite Bette Davis, Anne Baxter, George Sanders and Thelma Ritter. The film was a box office hit and nominated for 14 Oscars and won for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Sanders), Best Director, Best Writing, Screenplay, Best Costume Design for a Black-and-White film and Best Sound Recording. Holm picked up a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for her performance.
Although successful on the wide screen, Holm bought out the rest of her Fox contract and moved to New York. She returned to Broadway to star in “Affairs of State” (1950), which was written for her by Louis Verneuil, and acted in the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “The King and I” (1952, as Anna), “His and Hers” (with Robert Preston), “Back to Methuselah” (1957), “Third Best Sport” (1958) and “Interlock” (1958).
Holm also ventured to the small screen in the 1950s with guest appearances in “Lux Video Theatre,” “Schlitz Playhouse of Stars,” “Hollywood Opening Night,” “Your Jeweler's Showcase,” “The United States Steel Hour,” “Climax,” “The Steve Allen Show,” “Producers' Showcase,” “Goodyear Television Playhouse,” “Zane Grey Theater” and “Hallmark Hall of Fame.” In 1954, she returned to Hollywood to star in a series on CBS called “Honestly, Celeste,” where she played Celeste Anders, a professor turned reporter in New York City. The sitcom ran from October to December 1954 before being canceled because of low ratings. Although unsuccessful, “Honestly, Celeste” helped Holm get starring roles in the MGM movies “The Tender Trap” (1955) and “High Society” (1956), based on Philip Barry's play “The Philadelphia Story” (both with Frank Sinatra). Also in 1956, she starred in the television movie “Carolyn” (1956).
During the 1960s, Holm appeared in episodes of “ The Christophers,” “Play of the Week,” “Follow the Sun,” “Checkmate,” “Alcoa Premiere,” “Dr. Kildare,” “Burke's Law,” “The Eleventh Hour,” “Mr. Novak,” “Run for Your Life,” “The Long Hot Summer,” “The Fugitive” and “The F.B.I.” and was nominated for a 1968 Emmy for Outstanding Achievement in Daytime Programming - Individual for her portrayal of Mrs. Bern in “Fat Hands and a Diamond Ring,” an episode of the program “Insight.” In addition, she was cast as the fairy godmother in the ABC remake of “Cinderella” (1965), as Mrs. Smith in “Meet Me in St. Louis” (1966), a TV remake the Vincente Minnelli 1944 film of the same name, and Flo Clementi in the TV thriller “Cosa Nostra, Arch Enemy of the FBI” (1967). Holm resumed her film career costarring with Tuesday Weld, Richard Beymer and Terry Thomas in the 1962 comedy “Bachelor Flat,” a revised version of director Frank Tashlin's “Susan Slept Here.” She followed it up with a role in the 1967 comedy “Doctor, You've Got to Be Kidding,” opposite Sandra Dee and George Hamilton. Meanwhile, she also delivered convincing performances in such productions as “Invitation to the March” (1960) on Broadway, “A Month in the Country” (1963, with her soon-to-be husband Wesley Addy), and the Broadway musical “Mame” (1966), where she succeeded Angela Lansbury in the title role. She went on to play the last role in the touring production of “Mame” from 1967 to 1969.
Holm returned to series television as a regular on the short lived NBC sitcom “Nancy” (1970 - 1971). 1970 also saw her star in a Broadway production of “Candida” and as Nancy Lincoln in the TV film “Swing Out, Sweet Land.” In 1973, she was praised for her portrayal of Aunt Polly in the musical film adaptation of the Mark Twain story “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,” titled “Tom Sawyer,” which starred Johnny Whitaker, Jodie Foster and Jeff East. Two years later, she reappeared on Broadway in “Habeas Corpus” (1975). Holm then portrayed Sister Angela in the NBC miniseries “Captains and the Kings” (1976), costarred with Lana Turner and Robert Lansin in “Bittersweet Love” (1976, directed by David Miller) and played the supporting role of Florence Hollister in Larry Cohen's “The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover” (1977). Also in 1977, she portrayed writer Janet Flanner in “Paris Was Yesterday” and reprised the role in 1979. In addition, she received attention on the small screen with her portrayal of Florence Harding in the NBC miniseries “Backstairs at the White House” (1979), for which she netted an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or a Special. The same year, she appeared in the musical “The Utter Glory of Morrissey Hall” on Broadway.
Holm continued to work in a number of TV projects during the 1980s. In addition to guest spots in “Trapper John, M.D.” (1982), “The Love Boat” (1984), “Matt Houston” (1985), “Magnum, P.I.” (1987) and “Spenser: For Hire” (1988), she played the role of Lauren Roberts in the soap opera “As the World Turns” (1981), had a recurring role on “Archie Bunker's Place” (5 episodes, 1981-1983) and portrayed Molly Hayden in the short lived ABC drama “Jessie” (1984). In 1985, she joined the cast of the CBS soap “Falcon Crest” in the recurring role of Anna Rossini. The next year, she briefly joined the cast of the ABC soap opera “Loving,” for which she was nominated for a 1987 Daytime Emmy in the category of Outstanding Guest Performer in a Drama Series for her performance. She also played Jaclyn Smith's mother, Samantha Cromwell, in ABC's series “Christine Cromwell” (1989-1990) and was cast as Miss Snow in “Polly” (1989), a NBC remake of “Pollyanna.” She also appeared in “Midnight Lace” (1981), “This Girl for Hire” (1983), “Murder by the Book” (1987), “Three Men and a Baby” (1987), a comedy starring Tom Selleck, Steve Guttenberg and Ted Danson, and as Nora Richards in the direct to video “Nora's Christmas Gift” (1989).
After reprising her role of Miss Snow in “Polly Comin' Home” (NBC, 1990), she guest starred as Grandmother Gaines in “Cheers” (1992) but did not resurface until 1995 in the TV film “Talking With.” She went on to play roles in the TV films “Home of the Brave” and “Once You Meet a Stranger” (both 1996) before being cast as Brendan Fraser's grandmother in “Still Breathing” (1997). She also played the role of Hattie Greene on the CBS primetime series “Promised Land” from 1996 to 1999 and in several episodes of “Touched by an Angel” between 1996 and 1998. On stage, she appeared in a Broadway production of “I Hate Hamlet” (1991).
Entering the new millennium, Holm portrayed Frances Robinson in the UPN series “The Beat” (13 episodes, 2000). She also costarred in an off-Broadway production of “Don Juan in Hell” and in 2002, appeared in an episode of “Third Witch.” In 2004, she guest starred in “Whoopi” and in 2005, portrayed Iris in the comedy “Alchemy,” which starred Tom Cavanagh, Sarah Chalke and James Barbour.
Recently, in 2011, the elderly actress completed filming the comedy feature “College Debts,” by directors Dexter Warr and Joshua Zilm. She will also portray Mrs. Ginsberg in the upcoming film “Driving Me Crazy,” opposite Keith Black, Jeanine Bartel and Maxine Bahns.
High Falls Film Festival: Susan B. Anthony 'Failure is Impossible' Award, 2003
Marco Island Film Festival: Lifetime Achievement Award, 2000
Academy Award: Best Actress in a Supporting Role, “Gentleman's Agreement,” 1948
Golden Globe: Best Supporting Actress, “Gentleman's Agreement,” 1948