Celeste Holm

Active - 1946 - 2005  |   Born - Apr 29, 1917 in New York, New York, United States  |   Died - Jul 15, 2012   |   Genres - Comedy, Drama, Mystery, Crime, Romance

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Biography by Hal Erickson

American actress Celeste Holm made her first stage appearance in 1936 with a Pennsylvania stock company. Sophisticated and poised beyond her years, Holm was cast shortly afterward in a touring company of the ultra-chic Clare Boothe Luce comedy The Women, then played New York in such high-profile productions as The Time of Your Life. Rodgers and Hammerstein cast her as soubrette Ado Annie in Oklahoma! in 1943; both the production itself and Annie's show-stopping song "I Cain't Say No" affirmed Holm's future stardom. Following her film debut in Three Little Girls in Blue (1946), she was cast by her studio, 20th Century-Fox, in the role of the love-starved fashion editor in the prestige feature Gentlemen's Agreement (1947), for which she won an Academy Award. The important role of Bette Davis' understanding friend in another Oscar-winner, All About Eve (1950), has immortalized Holm amongst the film cultists. Stage, nightclub and television assignments followed (she starred in the short-lived 1950s sitcom Honestly, Celeste), and from the late 1950s onward, Holm was more at home on stage than in films. Her performance in the touring company of Mame won Holm the Sara Siddons Award -- coincidentally the same award presented to the title character at the beginning of All About Eve. Always choosy about her roles, Holm remained active through the early 2000s whenever a good part struck her fancy; one of her most frequently rebroadcast assignments was as a custody court judge in an early-1980s episode of Archie Bunker's Place and she appeared in several episodes of Touched By an Angel. She died in 2012 at the age of 95.

Movie Highlights

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  • Was the first to portray Ado Annie in the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Oklahoma! in its original stage production in 1943.
  • Made her screen debut in the 1946 musical Three Little Girls in Blue.
  • Winner of the 1968 Sarah Siddons Award for excellence in Chicago theater. The award was presented by the Sarah Siddons Society, a non-profit organization inspired by the fictitious society in Holm's 1950 film All About Eve.
  • Was knighted by King Olav of Norway in 1979.
  • Appeared alongside then-husband Wesley Addy on the ABC soap opera Loving.