Celeste Holm

Celeste Holm

Born: April 29, 1917
Died: July 15, 2012 (at age 95)
Birthplace: New York City, New York, U.S.

Celeste Holm (April 29, 1917 - July 15, 2012) was an American stage, film and television actress.

Holm won an Academy Award for her performance in Gentleman's Agreement (1947), and was Oscar nominated for her roles in Come to the Stable (1949) and All About Eve (1950). She originated the role of Ado Annie in the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Oklahoma! (1943).

Early life

Born and raised in Manhattan, Holm was 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 the Netherlands, 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. She first appeared on Broadway in a small part in Gloriana (1938), a comedy which lasted for only five performances, but her first major part on Broadway was in William Saroyan's revival of The Time of Your Life (1940) as Mary L. with fellow newcomer Gene Kelly. The role that got her the most recognition from critics and audiences was as Ado Annie in the premiere 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 another supporting role in All About Eve, however, Holm realized she preferred live theater to movie work, and only accepted a few select film roles over the next 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 chaperone 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).


A life member of The Actors Studio, 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, appointed Knight, First Class of the Order of St. Olav by King Olav of Norway in 1979, and inducted into the American Theater 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 1995, Holm's was inducted into the Scandinavian-American Hall of Fame.

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 (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 actor Wesley Addy (1913-1996), until his death at age 83 in 1996. The couple lived together on her family farm in the Schooley's Mountain section of Washington Township, Morris County, New Jersey.
  • 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 though 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 apartment, which Holm purchased for $10,000 cash in 1953 from her film earnings, and which is now believed to be worth at least $10,000,000.

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. She suffered a heart attack on July 13, 2012 in the facility. She died at her Central Park West apartment on July 15, 2012.

She was survived by husband Frank Basile and her sons and grandchildren.



Year Title Role Notes
1946 Three Little Girls in Blue Miriam Harrington
1947 Carnival in Costa Rica Celeste
Gentleman's Agreement Anne Dettrey Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress - Motion Picture
New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress (2nd place)
1948 Road House Susie Smith
Snake Pit, TheThe Snake Pit Grace
1949 Chicken Every Sunday Emily Hefferan
A Letter to Three Wives Addie Ross (voice, uncredited)
Come to the Stable Sister Scholastica Nominated-Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
Everybody Does It Doris Blair Borland
1950 Champagne for Caesar Flame O'Neill
All About Eve Karen Nominated-Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
1955 Tender Trap, TheThe Tender Trap Sylvia Crewes
1956 High Society Liz Imbrie
1962 Bachelor Flat Helen Bushmill
1963 Hailstones and Halibut Bones Narrator (voice) short film
1967 Doctor, You've Got to Be Kidding! Louise Halloran
1973 Tom Sawyer Aunt Polly
1976 Bittersweet Love Marian
1977 Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover, TheThe Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover Florence Hollister
1987 Three Men and a Baby Mrs. Holden
1989 Nora's Christmas Gift Nora Richards video
1997 Still Breathing Ida
2005 Alchemy Iris
2012 Driving Me Crazy Mrs. Ginsberg
2013 College Debts Grandma GG Completed


Year Title Role Notes
1950 All Star Revue Guest Actress Episode "1.6"
1951 Lux Video Theatre Eliza
Margaret Best
Episode: "The Pacing Goose"
Episode: "Second Sight"
1952 Schlitz Playhouse Episode: "Four's a Family"
Lux Video Theatre Katherine Case Episode: "The Bargain"
1953 Lux Video Theatre Miss Prynne Episode: "Lost Sunday"
Hollywood Opening Night Episode: "Mrs. Genius"
Your Jeweler's Showcase Episode: "Heart's Desire"
1954 Honestly, Celeste! Celeste Anders TV series
1955 United States Steel Hour, TheThe United States Steel Hour Madge Collins Episode: "The Bogey Man"
1956 Climax! Mary Miller Episode: "The Empty Room Blues"
Sneak Preview TV series
Carolyn Carolyn Daniels TV movie
Steve Allen Show, TheThe Steve Allen Show Mad Meggie Episode: "2.8"
Producers' Showcase Mad Meggie Episode: "Jack and the Beanstalk"
1957 Schlitz Playhouse Lettie Morgan Episode: "The Wedding Present"
Goodyear Playhouse Maggie Travis Episode: "The Princess Back Home"
Zane Grey Theater Sarah Kimball Episode: "Fugitive"
Yeoman of the Guard, TheThe Yeoman of the Guard Phoebe Meryll TV movie
1960 Art Carney Special Episode: "The Man in the Dog Suit"
Christophers, TheThe Christophers Episode: "Women of the Bible"
1961 Play of the Week Virginia Episode: "A Clearing in the Woods"
1962 Follow the Sun Miss Bullfinch Episode: "The Irresistible Miss Bullfinch"
Checkmate Laraine Whitman Episode: "So Beats My Plastic Heart"
Alcoa Premiere Laura Bennett Episode: "Cry Out in Silence"
1963 Dr. Kildare Nurse Jane Munson Episode: "The Pack Rat and Prima Donna"
Burke's Law Helen Forsythe Episode: "Who Killed the Kind Doctor?"
1964 Eleventh Hour, TheThe Eleventh Hour Billie Hamilton Episode "How Do I Say I Love You?"
1965 Mr. Novak Rose Herrod Episode: "An Elephant Is Like a Tree"
Cinderella Fairy Godmother TV movie
Run for Your Life Margot Horst Episode: "The Cold, Cold War of Paul Bryan"
Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color Mrs. Fuller 4 episodes
Fugitive, TheThe Fugitive Flo Hagerman Episode: "The Old Man Picked a Lemon"
1966 Long Hot Summer, TheThe Long Hot Summer Libby Rankin Episode: "Face of Fear"
Meet Me in St. Louis Mrs. Smith TV movie
1967 Fugitive, TheThe Fugitive Pearl Patton Episode: "Concrete Evidence"
F.B.I., TheThe F.B.I. Flo Clementi Episode: "The Executioners: Part 1"
Episode: "The Executioners: Part 2"
Cosa Nostra, Arch Enemy of the FBI Flo Clementi TV movie
Insight Mrs. Berns Episode: "Fat Hands and a Diamond Ring"
1970 Name of the Game, TheThe Name of the Game Irene Comdon Episode: "The Brass Ring"
Swing Out, Sweet Land Nancy Lincoln TV movie
1970-1971 Nancy Abigail 17 episodes
1972 Delphi Bureau, TheThe Delphi Bureau Sybil Van Loween Episode: "Pilot"
1973 Medical Center Dr. Linda Wilson Episode: "No Margin for Error"
1974 Medical Center Geraldine Stern Episode: "Web of Intrigue"
Streets of San Francisco, TheThe Streets of San Francisco Mrs. Shaninger Episode: "Crossfire"
Underground Man, TheThe Underground Man Beatrice Broadhurst TV movie
Death Cruise Elizabeth Mason TV movie
Manhunter, TheThe Manhunter Episode: "The Truck Murders"
1976 American Woman: Portraits of Courage, TheThe American Woman: Portraits of Courage Elizabeth Cady Stanton TV movie
Captains and the Kings Sister Angela TV miniseries
Columbo Mrs. Brandt Episode: Old Fashioned Murder
1977 Love Boat II, TheThe Love Boat II Eva McFarland TV movie
The Wonderful World of Disney Episode: "The Bluegrass Special"
Wonder Woman Dolly Tucker Episode: "I Do, I Do"
1978 Lucan Episode: "You Can't Have My Baby"
Fantasy Island Mabel Jarvis Episode: "The Beachcomber/The Last Whodunnit"
1979 Fantasy Island Sister Veronica Episode: "The Look Alikes/Winemaker"
Backstairs at the White House Mrs. Florence Harding TV miniseries
Nominated-Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or a Special
Trapper John, M.D. Claudia Episode: "The Shattered Image"
Love Boat, TheThe Love Boat Estelle Castlewood Episode: "A Good and Faithful Servant/The Secret Life of Burl Smith/Tug of War/Designated Lover"
1981 Midnight Lace Sylvia Randall TV movie
As the World Turns Lauren Roberts TV series
Archie Bunker's Place Estelle Harris Episode: "Growing Up is Hard to Do"
Episode: "Custody"
1982 American Playhouse Celebrity Episode: "The Shady Hill Kidnapping"
Trapper John, M.D. Lillie Townsend Episode: "Don't Rain on My Charade"
1983 Archie Bunker's Place Estelle Harris Episode: "Three Women"
This Girl for Hire Zandra Stoneham TV movie
1984 Jessie Molly Hayden TV movie
Jessie Molly Hayden
Love Boat, TheThe Love Boat Florence Flanders Episode: "Buck Stops Here, The/For Better or Worse/Bet on It"
1985 Matt Houston Katherine Hershey Episode: "Company Secrets"
Falcon Crest Anna Rossini 6 episodes
1987 Murder by the Book Claire TV movie
Magnum, P.I. Abigail Baldwin Episode: "The Love That Lies"
1988 Spenser: For Hire Rose Episode: "Haunting"
1989 CBS Summer Playhouse Samantha Orbison Episode: "Road Show"
Polly Miss Snow TV movie
1989-1990 Christine Cromwell Samantha Cromwell 4 episodes
1990 Polly: Comin' Home! Miss Snow TV movie
1991-1992 Loving Isabella Alden TV series
1992 Cheers Grandmother Gaines Episode: "No Rest for the Woody"
1995 Great Performances Episode: "Talking With"
1996 Home of the Brave Hattie Greene TV movie
Once You Meet a Stranger Clara TV movie
Touched by an Angel Hattie Greene Episode: "Promised Land"
1996-1999 Promised Land Hattie Greene 67 episodes
1997 Touched by an Angel Hattie Greene Episode: "The Road Home: Part 1"
Episode: "Amazing Grace: Part 2"
1998 Touched by an Angel Hattie Greene Episode: "Vengeance Is Mine: Part 1"
2000 Beat, TheThe Beat Frances Robinson 13 episodes
2002 Third Watch Florence Episode: "Transformed"
2004 Whoopi Diana Episode: "The Squatters"


Year Title Role Notes
1938 Gloriana Lady Mary
1940 Time of Your Life, TheThe Time of Your Life Mary L
1940 Another Sun Maria
1940 Return of the Vagabond, TheThe Return of the Vagabond His Daughter
1941 Eight O'Clock Tuesday Marcia Godden
1941 My Fair Ladies Lady Keith-Odlyn
1942 Papa Is All Emma
1942 All the Comforts of Home Fifi Oritanski
1942 Damask Cheek, TheThe Damask Cheek Calla Longstreth
1943 Oklahoma! Ado Annie Carnes
1944 Bloomer Girl Evalina
1950 Affairs of State Irene Elliott
1951 King and I, TheThe King and I Anna Leonowens Replacement
1952 Anna Christie Anna Christopherson
1954 His and Hers Maggie Palmer
1958 Interlock Mrs. Price
1958 Third Best Sport Helen Sayre
1960 Invitation to a March Camilla Jablonski
1967 Mame Mame Dennis Replacement
1970 Candida Candida
1974 Habeas Corpus Lady Rumpers
1979 Utter Glory of Morrissey Hall, TheThe Utter Glory of Morrissey Hall Julia Faysle
1991 I Hate Hamlet Lilian Troy
1994 Allegro Grandma Taylor


Year Title Role Notes
1946 Guest on Bob Crosby Show
1950 Everybody Does It Episode of Screen Guild Theater
1952 Up in Central Park Episode of Music In the Air
1952 Foreign Affairs Episode of Screen Guild Theater
1953 Cluny Brown Episode of Star Playhouse
1976 Afterward Episode of CBS Radio Mystery Theater
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[ Source: Wikipedia ]

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